Autism Therapy Guides

Step-by-Step plans for a variety of skills that often come up when working with children with autism – Plus, wording for your goals!

What is Task Analysis?

Task analysis is the process of breaking a larger skill down into smaller, sequential steps.  With each step that the child masters, he grows closer to being able to perform the full skill independently.  Tasks analysis is an evidence-based instructional method which has been found especially effective for children who do not respond to regular instruction, which makes it perfect for the children on our case loads.

While the process of task analysis has been studied and backed by research, there aren’t always agreed-upon ways to break down a skill.  Every SLP may have a slightly different method of breaking down skills into step-by-step plans.  What’s important is that the steps are achievable and sequential so that the child sees incremental success on the way to learning a new skill.

The following therapy guides represent our task analysis for each skill.  You’ll also find sample text for your goals.

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Full Membership Includes…

  • Therapy ideas for each step below
  • No Prep Worksheets
  • Troubleshooting Advice
  • Access to our staff and community for asking questions
  • Monthly webinars for ASHA CEUs

Our Step-By-Step Guides:

How to Use:
Click the skill that you’d like to expand.  You’ll find our task analysis of the steps you can follow in therapy to teach that skill.  You’ll also find sample text to include in yoru goal writing.  To get detailed therapy activities for each step below, please join our membership program to get access to the full Therapy Activity Database.

  1. Determine the cause/purpose of the echolalia: Decide between possible causes such as: Child has a limited vocabulary
     Child is echoing to request something
     Child doesn’t know how to answer questions
     Child thinks that your next line (like praise) is supposed to be part of the response
     Echoing is self-stimulatory or habit
     Child is learning language as gestalts (such as the 6 stages of language development for children on the autism spectrum)
  2. Treat specific causes of echolalia independently: Now you will proceed with therapy strategies that you would use regardless of the diagnosis or the presence of echolalia, depending on the cause.  (Our Therapy Activity Database has specific therapy recommendations for each of them)
  • Establish Joint Attention and Engagement: Student will establish joint attention and engagement in an activity with the speech-language pathologist.
  • Introduce an AAC System (if needed): Student will use an alternative means of communication for functional communication skills if speech skills are not adequate.
  • Improve Imitation Skills and Work Toward Speech: Student will imitate motor movements and eventually speech sounds.
  • Teach Basic Communication Skills: Student will use language to communicate for a variety of purposes in various settings and with various communication partners.
  • Parent/Teacher Training if Possible: The SLP will include parents and teachers in the therapy process whenever possible.
  1. Identify Overall Life Goals: As a multi-disciplinary team that includes the parents and child if possible, determine what the child’s life goals are for the immediate future.  Possible options include: 
    1. Employment
    2. Vocational/Technical Training
    3. Higher Education
    4. Residential
    5. Transportation/mobility
    6. Financial/income
    7. Self-determination
    8. Social competence
    9. Health/safety
  2. Pick Out Speech/Language/Communication Skills that Support the Child in Those Goals: Look at what communication tasks the child will need but is still lacking.  Possible options include: 
    1. Planning and sequencing a task
    2. Read a recipe/follow directions on a package
    3. How to find reliable information online
    4. How to be safe online (what to share, what not to share)
    5. How to ask for help or report a problem
    6. How (and when) to call emergency services
    7. Conflict Resolution
    8. Reading a map/navigating through town
    9. Work-Place communication tasks
    10. Ordering food at restaurants or making purchases at stores
    11. Making, keeping, and cancelling appointments
    12. Greeting strangers
    13. Answering questions
    14. Self-advocacy (asking for special accommodations if needed)
  3. Teach Communication Skills and Social Expectations: Student will attend to social stories or other presentations of life skills as related to his/her life goal plan.
  4. Role Play New Skills: Student will demonstrate identified life skill with the therapist in the therapy room (or in a more natural environment) with prompts from the speech-language pathologist.
  1. Identify a Behavior to Teach: The SLP will identify a behavior to teach that will either reduce the use of maladaptive behaviors or support the child socially.
  2. Take pictures of the child doing those behaviors: The SLP will stage photos of the child doing the expected behavior.
  3. Put the pictures together in a book: The SLP will use positive “I” statements to write a story about the expected behavior.
  4. Read the book and act it out: Student will attend to a social story being read about expected behavior.  Student will then participate in a role-playing scenario to practice the expected behavior.
  5. Refer to the Book for “Re-Dos” in Natural Environment: After situations where the expected behavior should have occurred but did not, Student will participate in a “re-do” with an adult by referencing the social story for the expected behavior and role-playing the expected behavior in the specific situation that occurred.  
  6. Generalization of Skill to Other Environments: Student will follow adult prompts and cues to use the expected behavior in a variety of environments.

What Do I Do in Therapy?

If you’re still not sure what to do in therapy, don’t worry!  We have more resources for you!  The full Therapy Activity Database (available only to paid members) contains detailed descriptions of what you can do in therapy for each of the steps listed above.  Join today to get all of the therapy ideas, worksheets, and support!