- Effective programs for treating autism spectrum disorder: Applied behavior analysis models
Betty and Randy Williams have given parents, teachers, administrators, other professionals, and the interested public a valuable guide to the characteristics, causes, and treatment of autism spectrum disorder. They devote the first part of the book to introducing the reader to the disorder, its potential causes, and various categories of treatments. They do this by describing the evidence related to each aspect of the disorder, possible cause, and treatment category. Their approach is to provide the reader with an understanding of how to interpret the evidence related to each aspect, possible cause, and treatment category or program they are describing throughout the book. They do this by describing their own reasoning for the conclusions they provide regarding the disorder, its causes, and treatments. They provide a rationale for determining whether treatments are scientifically based, promising, have limited supporting evidence, or are not recommended. This approach is what takes this otherwise well written book and makes it into a valuable guide.
The second part of the book elaborates on the principles and procedures of Applied Behavior Analysis that form the basis for the scientifically based treatments and promising practices to be examined in depth in part three. It gives readers the introduction or review of Applied Behavior Analysis they will need to get the most out of the descriptions of effective treatment programs provided in part three. It provides sufficient details, examples, and references to allow the novice to understand how Applied Behavior Analysis comes to be the leading approach to the treatment of autism spectrum disorder while reminding the expert of the nuances of the approach.
The third part of the book reviews eight Applied Behavior Analysis based treatment programs serving persons with autism spectrum and other disorders. Betty and Randy visited all but one of the programs to observe first hand their operations and interview face to face the staff members and managers of the programs. This approach allowed them to gather information regarding the development of the program that may not always make it into the published program descriptions. They comment on aspects of the everyday operations of each treatment program that are not usually a part of the literature describing the programs. Sufficient details, examples, and references are provided to allow readers to judge for themselves whether a given treatment program is one they may want to access or recommend for persons with autism spectrum disorders in their lives or professional [End Page 413] practices. Another benefit to be derived from their descriptions of the range of treatment programs is to see how each treatment program emphasized slightly different aspects of applying behavior analysis principles and procedures in the treatment of autism spectrum disorders. In this way readers come to understand the generality of these principles and procedures.
The fourth and final part of the book provides readers with the authors' integration of their experiences preparing this book and from across two lengthy careers serving persons with learning challenges and preparing others to do the same. Their optimistic summary of what the science of behavior analysis has offered, how others can be prepared to take advantage of what it has offered, and what the future might hold for continuing development of effective treatments for autism spectrum and other disorders is both reassuring and uplifting. I highly recommend this book to parents, teachers, administrators, other professionals, and interested others whose lives are enriched by persons with autism spectrum and other disorders. [End Page 414]