Program Description

AIM provides educational, behavioral and psychological services for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other Developmental Disabilities. We work with children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other Developmental Disabilities. We work with our clients across a variety of settings, including home, school and the community. We work with high functioning adults in individual and group psychotherapy.

AIM is a vendor for the San Diego Regional Center (SDRC). We also work with the following insurance companies:

  • Blue Cross/Blue Shield
  • Magellan
  • HealthNet
  • UBH Optum
  • Anthem
  • Aetna
  • UHM&V - Military & Veterans

    We adopt an integrative treatment approach in working with children with ASD and DD. We take into account that each of these treatment modalities has strengths and weaknesses and each of our clients has unique needs. We combine these treatment modalities in ways that best meet individual clients learning and behavioral needs.

    AIM provides a wide range of services including home, school, and community-based intensive behavioral treatment, applied behavior analysis (ABA), social skills groups, parent training, community in-services, assessments and psychotherapy. We work hard to provide comprehensive training for our staff to ensure that they are knowledgeable and well versed in working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other Developmental Disabilities.

    The AIM staff members, the Clinical and ABA Supervisors and the Behavioral Interventionists are trained on a wide range of behavioral and educational treatment modalities, including:
  • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
  • Discrete Trial Training (DTT)
  • Pivotal Response Training (PRT)
  • Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
  • Social Stories & Comic Strip Conversations
  • Intensive Behavioral Speech and Language Training

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

AIM utilizes Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in treating our clients with Autism Spectrum Disorder. All treatment modalities focusing on changing behaviors by analyzing behavioral output and causal and maintaining factors fall under the umbrella of ABA. ABA is used to determine why, how, when, how long, and where best to increase or decrease behaviors to improve an individuals functioning.
ABA is based on the principles of Operant Conditioning. Operant Conditioning postulates the theory that consequences have an affect on future behaviors. That is, we modify, eliminate, or decrease maladaptive or problematic behaviors by changing the causal and maintaining factors surrounding the occurrence of the behaviors. We also modify, increase and improve skill deficits in the same way.

Discrete Trial Training (DTT)

Discrete Trial Training (DTT) is the first behavioral training modality created specifically for young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This is a very structured and repetitive teacher/trainer directed teaching modality that is based on operant conditioning. Specifically, DTT breaks down the target skills into discrete behaviors and we train each discrete behavior individually and separately. As each discrete behavior reaches mastery, they are chained, shaped, blended or combined into more complex skills.
DTT is a teacher directed behavioral treatment modality, so that a wide range of skills can be taught, such as speech and language skills, communication skills, play skills, social/emotional skills, self-help skills, and motor skills while focusing on decreasing behavioral excesses, which are the problematic behaviors.

Pivotal Response Training (PRT)

Pivotal Response Training (PRT) is a child-centered, play-based behavioral treatment modality. PRT addresses behavioral excesses based on operant conditioning and behavior modification. PRT utilizes ABA concepts as well to address the target behaviors and skills. As the name implies, PRT focuses on teaching pivotal responses (i.e., core and foundation skills) that will assist the generalization and development of other skills and behaviors. The two pivotal behaviors that PRT targets are:

  • Motivation (to learn)
  • Responsivity to Multiple Cues

PRT is based on the theory that once the individual with ASD becomes motivated to learn and develops attention to multiple cues in the environment there will be a wide spread positive effect on many other behaviors. This becomes an efficient way to produce generalized improvements in the behavior of the individual with Autism Spectrum Disorder (Koegel et. al., 1989).

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is a visual system that helps individuals to communicate their wants and needs. The primary focus of PECS is to provide nonverbal and pre-verbal individuals with a nonverbal communication system. The secondary focus of PECS is to assist verbal individuals who have pragmatic difficulties and help them to create longer, more complex and appropriate sentence structure.
For nonverbal individuals, PECS helps them to clearly communicate their wants and needs. PECS requires the individuals to physically take an object or a picture symbol (i.e., photographs or picture symbols) and give it to another person in exchange for what they want. For preverbal individuals (i.e., babbles, makes consistent speech sounds, but not consistently utilizing speech for appropriate communication purposes), PECS helps them to consistently communicate their wants and needs as well as provide opportunities to stimulate verbal language with the use of the visual cues.


The TEACCH methodology was created specifically for individuals with ASD. TEACCH focuses on using visual and environmental structures to help individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder to become increasingly more independent in their daily functioning. The TEACCH methodology is successfully implemented in work training sites, actual work sites, at schools, and in the homes of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder experience difficulty interpreting and predicting their environment so that transitions and changes within familiar environments can be extremely stressful for them. Thus, the use of visual structures, such as picture/word schedules can help these individuals transition across activities, tasks, and locations without becoming distressed. The environmental structures include the use of left to right and top to bottom visual systems that help these individuals follow a work routine to create independence and self-reliance. The visual system also decreases the need for them to depend on another person to help them make transitions and function in life. TEACCH creates fluid and visually structured living spaces and learning and work environments that helps these individuals become increasingly independent in their daily functioning.

Social Stories & Comic Strip Conversations

Carol Gray developed the Social Stories and Comic Strip Conversations to provide individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder individualize social skills training to meet their specific social needs and deficits. The Social Story and Comic Strip Conversations are effective way to teach individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders social awareness, to problem solve interpersonal conflicts and to understand social rules through a story format. These methods are to write a story or draw a comic strip that is specific to the client and his/her problem, dilemma, and the confusing situation. The individualized stories help the clients attend to the stories and help them generalize the information provided in the stories to their lives.

Intensive Behavioral Speech and Language Training

There is a natural progression in childrens speech development that goes from babbling, to babbling in strings (i.e., babbling a slew of different sounds with our without intent to communicate) with some recognizable words, to saying single words, then to two to three word phrases to sentences. Our goal is to assist the clients to gradually progress from one phase of speech development to the next. In order to so, there are a number of different behavioral methods and strategies that we utilize to facilitate speech and language development, such as through verbal imitation and pairing movements and visual cues to promote independent and spontaneous verbal output.

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