Understanding autism
Understanding autism

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

Understanding autism

6.6 1980s: an intervention to help children with autism

An influential early development in therapeutic interventions adopted the idea that autistic people have acquired, through learning, a set of ‘maladaptive’ or inappropriate behaviours, which can be eradicated or ‘retrained’. The psychologist Ivar Lovaas pioneered behaviour modification techniques for children with autism, using rewards to encourage ‘desired’ behaviour such as language and to discourage ‘difficult’ behaviours (Lovaas, 1987). While these days some practitioners are highly critical of behaviour modification, arguing that it does not address the underlying psychological difficulties, approaches based on Lovaas’ ideas are still in use. Other approaches which aim to tackle the core problems more directly may nonetheless incorporate the basic principles of behaviour shaping.

Described image
Figure 5 Ivar Lovaas 1928-2010

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus