RECENT studies suggest that the direct and intrusive approach of reinforcement techniques is effective in significantly increasing the verbal and nonverbal behavioral repertoires of autistic children.1-3 Using these methods of behavior modification with two mute autistic children, Hingtgen, et al4 found that a three-week intensive imitative traning period resulted in substantially increased attending responses, the establishment of a large number of verbal and nonverbal imitative behaviors, and the development of more complex behaviors during subsequent training. Since food rewards were used extensively during training, the observed gains in behavior suggested that at least some of the behavioral deficiencies identified with infantile autism might be due to poor motivation for attending to appropriate cues. Their previous nonattention could be partially the result of an inadequacy of social stimuli to serve as rewards for autistic children.
In spite of increased motivation however
Hingtgen JN, Churchill DW. Identification of Perceptual Limitations in Mute Autistic ChildrenIdentification by the Use of Behavior Modification. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1969;21(1):68-71. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1969.01740190070009