What Are Developmental Therapies?

The goal of developmental autism therapies is to build the ability of parents to understand, emotionally support, interact with, and guide their children.  Challenges embedded in fun, natural interactions leads to learning.

Developmental therapies use information about how children develop social connection and communication, and work to support children’s movement along that pathway.

Usually parents are trained to work with their children under the guidance of therapists in the natural environment of the home.  This type of therapy is less costly than therapies that hire tutors to work 1:1 with children, and it is easier to teach other family members and caregivers how to help.  An intensive level of intervention is achieved, because parents can make every interaction with their child an opportunity to learn.

Developmental therapies can be used on their own, or families might choose to use different therapies at different times, as their child’s needs change, since different kinds of therapy target different skills and capacities.

Although they are based in the science of developmental psychology, they also have connections to strategies in inclusive education.  Speech and language pathology and occupational therapy also contribute strategies used in developmental therapies.

Parent Implemented Interventions are recognized as evidence based by the National Professional Development Center, and research support for developmental therapies is building.  Developmental approaches include:

  • DIR/Floortime and PLAY Project
  • Relationship Development Intervention (RDI)
  • Hanen

For more information, check out our booklet describing these three approaches.