Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tip Tuesday! Son-Rise vs. ABA for chidren with Autism?

Today I'll be talking about the differences between the Son-Rise program and ABA (applied behavioral analysis).

I placed this blog as part of my April ASD series here AFTER introducing one aspect of applied behavior analysis known as DTT (discrete trial training) and discussing Greenspan's DIR and Solomon's P.L.A.Y. project so that we have a foundation of the two "camps" of therapy out there possible for ASD children.

As you read on you will notice that the Son-Rise program is much more closely related to DIR and P.L.A.Y. project in the way they approach ASD as a social disorder as compared to Lovass's ABA therapy.

DISCLAIMER:  Just to disclose, I am NOT an expert in ABA or the Son-Rise program.  Nor and I going to address the research (and in some cases, lack there of) supporting or contradicting these programs.  If you are considering either option, I encourage you to explore all of your options and make the best decision based on research as well as your personal preferences.  I am NOT in favor of one program over another.  I am not soliciting either model nor am I being paid to support either of these programs or any models mentioned in any blog posts past or present.  I am simply sharing information so that you can become more knowledgeable about the possible therapy programs available for children with ASD and can make your own clinical and parental decisions re: how you want to move forward with your client/child.  

The following information was taken from a webinar series on Youtube by Ron Kaufmann, CEO of Son-Rise program. You can find part 1 of the webinar here.  For more information on the Son-Rise program go to Autism Treatment Center of America's website.

The following table has the main points I feel regarding the differences between these two programs.  As you can see, Son-Rise, like DIR and P.L.A.Y project, feel it is crucial to build social relationships and see ASD as a social disorder first and foremost and  feels it is imperative to train parents to use these techniques as well.  The one aspect that appears to be different is that the Son-Rise program appears to accept stimulatory behaviors and does not seem to address sensory processing issues in a traditional sense (i.e. sensory diet) as other models attempts to do.  At least that is how I understood Ron's information.  Unlike the P.L.A.Y. project, Son-Rise also appears to be more intensive than the recommended daily 2 hour home intervention, in 15-20 mins increments.  Again I am not an expert, this is just how I understood the information presented in the webinar series.

If you want to listen to them, feel free to click on the link above.

If you would like a copy of this table for your reference you can download it here.

I hope this series is providing you with a bit more information on additional theoretical models for treating children with ASD.  These are by NO MEANS a comprehensive list.  There are so many more models, techniques, and curriculum (e.g. TEACCH, SCERTS, Hanen, Carol Gray's Social stories, Michelle Garcia Winner's Social Thinking, Maurice curriculum, etc. just to name a few) one can explore for their child with ASD.  So if any of these are not what you are looking for or have not worked for your child don't get discouraged because as I believe with all my heart, there is no "one size fits all" approach.  Keep exploring your options and find the fit for your child!

Good luck and join us next month as we begin our series on the nonverbal child, a discussion that will continue through ASHA's Better Speech and Hearing Month of May!

Happy Talking!


  1. Hi there.
    I stumbled on your blog today and thought I'd give it a look. I'm a third-year ABA student at a university in the south, and though I largely agree with your list of important ABA components, there were a couple I'd like to clarify.
    First, the use of aversives... it's a long story, but back in the day when Dr. Lovaas gathered up a lot of wonderful research and began implementing "behavior modification" aversives were used more freely and sometimes without merit. NOW, "aversives" or punishment procedures are used in a last-case scenario only if multiple reinforcement interventions have failed. Or, if the behavior is life-threatening or serious like head-banging or severe self-biting, it's possible to jump immediately to an effective form of punishment that includes blocking paired with reprimands, or protective equipment, etc. Further, extinction is the process of removing a pre-existing reinforcer so it is not the same as punishment. Extinction occurs when a child tantrums for a candy bar at the store, usually gets it (reinforcement), and then one day the candy bar isn't provided anymore and he eventually stops tantruming once he realizes that crying no longer results in candy (slow process, but it works!).
    Lastly, DTT is only one of the many procedures we used to teach children new skills. We also use something called incidental, or naturalistic, teaching which may be closer to the other therapies you mention. In this case, a more student-led environment occurs. If a nonverbal child is playing and then reaches for a favorite toy, we use this opportunity to guide and prompt vocalizations that sound anything like the name of the toy ("say, 'ba' and you can have your ball!"). We capitalize on his motivation and then once any utterance is made, he is quickly given the toy and praised highly. Then we work to get closer approximations of the actual word by encouraging practice in those natural moments when he reaches for that toy.

    Hope this gives a little more insight into ABA. Thanks for your blog and for giving people some things to consider!

    1. Thank you Charity for your comment! This particular blog post is one of a series of blog posts on ASD that I wrote last April for Autism Awareness Month. I want to state that the above list is NOT MY list of ABA and Son-Rise components but what Ron Kaufman stated as his understanding of the differences between the two. I do agree with you that ABA has become more humanitarian in that traditional aversives are no longer being used as often (although there is disagreement among various professionals/therapy camps whether "informational no" is still an aversive), and there are increased attempts to add more learning opportunities in one's naturalistic environment over the past decade or so. PRT is one example of a way ABA therapists are trying to use natural consequences to improve communication skills, and that's great!

      I try to put a disclaimer in each blog when talking about various models or types of therapies that I am NOT soliciting one type over another as I feel every child is different and I believe in individualized therapy (no "one size fits all" approach for kids).

      So thank you for sharing your ABA knowledge with us! I think the more parents read and learn about their therapy options the better they will be at making a choice that fits best for their child!


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