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We offer behavior support to help children and families increase behaviors that are helpful and decrease behaviors that are harmful or negatively impact learning.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the application of behavioral laws to change socially significant behavior to a meaningful degree. ABA is based on the science of learning and behavior. ABA helps us to understand:

  • how behavior works,
  • how behavior is impacted by the environment, and
  • how learning takes place.


The principles of ABA form the basis for many behavioral treatments including discrete trial learning, incidental teaching (or natural environment training), verbal behavior, pivotal response training, and the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM), what our intervention is based on at YMC. All of these techniques focus on antecedents (what happens before a behavior occurs), the behavior emitted, and the consequences (what happens after the behavior).


ABA is considered an evidence-based “best” practice treatment for autism by the US Surgeon General and by the American Psychological Association. “Evidence-based” means that ABA has passed scientific tests of its usefulness, quality, and effectiveness. The methods of behavior analysis have been used and studied for decades. In addition to helping children with autism, they have helped many kinds of learners gain different skills including:

  • increasing language and communication skills;
  • improving attention, focus, social skills, memory, and academics; and 
  • decreasing problem behaviors.

The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) is an evidence-based intervention specifically developed for very young children with autism. The ESDM is designed to be highly engaging and enjoyable for the child while skills are systematically taught within a naturalistic, play-based interaction that integrates the well-validated teaching practices of ABA with a relationship-focused developmental model.


The ESDM aims to improve skills across developmental domains while decreasing the symptoms of autism that impact the child’s functioning. Its core features include:

  • a transdisciplinary team;
  • a curriculum that addresses all domains of early development;
  • a focus on building positive relationships, adult sensitivity, and following the child’s lead;
  • building up complex behaviors from the simplest to the most complex;
  • systematic individualization;
  • teaching occurs during natural play and everyday activities; and
  • deep parental involvement and parent coaching.


The Early Start Denver Model is the only comprehensive early intervention model that has been validated in a randomized clinical trial for use with children with autism as young as 18 months of age. It has been found to vastly improve language, cognition and social skills for children with autism across a wide range of learning styles and abilities. YMCC is the only early autism intervention program in Arizona that utilizes the ESDM. To find out more call us at 602-237-6653.

The National Research Council, an organization that advises the U.S. Congress on policy, made a set of recommendations about best practices for early intervention with young children with autism. These straightforward recommendations can serve as a basic guide and yardstick by which to assess the effectiveness of an intervention program you’re considering. The criteria are as follows:

  • Intervention should begin as soon as possible.
  • The intervention program should be individualized for each child, taking into account each child’s unique characteristics, strengths, and challenges.
  • The intervention program should be designed and overseen by a trained, professional, interdisciplinary team.
  • A curriculum that focuses on the specific areas of challenges in ASD should be used.
  • The program should provide for ongoing data collection on the progress the child is making in each skill area, and adjustments to the program should be made when progress is not evident.
  • The child should be actively engaged in the intervention activities and should receive at least 25 hours of structured intervention each week.
  • Parents should be closely involved in the intervention, as well as in setting goals and priorities, and should be taught how to implement the intervention strategies as home.

For behavior therapy, YMC currently accepts BCBS and United .