Our Intervention Approach

At ANNA we use an intervention approach called Naturalistic Developmental Behavioral Intervention (NDBI) to support the growth and independence of young children with autism up to age 7. NDBI combines well-researched strategies from Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA, designed to teach new skills) with well-researched strategies from developmental psychology (designed to support children in their natural development). This means that NDBI is focused on creating learning opportunities for your child during activities that are natural and fun for them, such as in play, social interactions, and daily routines.

What skills can we work on with your child?

Communication Skills

We will help your child continue learning how to communicate their needs and interests, and to respond to communication from others.

Daily Living Skills

By teaching your child during daily routines, we will help them develop skills that are important for taking care of themselves such as dressing, toileting, handwashing, toothbrushing, and feeding.

Social Engagement

Our child-led approach helps your child learn how to initiate and engage in comfortable, fun social interactions with others.

Play Skills

Your child will learn new ways to explore and learn from their environment through play. We will also help your child develop other important play skills such as sharing and taking turns.

Learning Skills

Our approach supports your child’s attention and their ability to learn new skills from their environment.

Reduction in Dangerous Behaviors

If your child is using any behaviors that may be dangerous to themselves, we will gently teach your child safer behaviors and skills they can use to have their needs met.

Recognizing and Responding to Feelings

Our approach emphasizes the importance of establishing positive relationships with each child so that they receive the positive, nurturing environment necessary for supporting brain development in areas critical for emotion regulation (recognizing and responding to feelings).

Caregiver Empowerment

Our goal is to teach a child’s caregivers how to use NDBI strategies that will help them feel more confident in their own ability to support their child’s development.

How does our NDBI approach differ from traditional Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services?


Traditional ABA

Teaching occurs in natural settings such as play or daily routines so that children learn to use skills where they matter most.

Teaching occurs in a highly-structured context, often at a table. Complex skills are broken down into small components that children practice repeatedly in isolation.

NDBI leverages the child’s unique strengths and interests to create motivation for learning opportunities

The child’s motivation to learn is often built by using rewards such as food.

Emphasizes the importance of following the child’s lead in play and establishing a social relationship with the child as a foundation for learning.

Traditional ABA services often uses adult-directed activities. The adult determines what toys or activities the child has access to.

NDBI actively incorporates caregivers in the intervention process. Teaching caregivers to use NDBI strategies in the context of play and daily routines ensures consistency in the approach across different environments, provides the child with more hours of intervention, and empowers parents to actively support their child’s development.

Caregiver involvement is not a central aspect of intervention delivery. The highly-structured teaching approaches do not easily fit into everyday life.

NDBI reflects a collaborative approach to autism intervention, incorporating principles and theories from a range of professional disciplines such as psychology, speech language pathology and early childhood development.

Traditional ABA services are typically delivered with high intensity, with limited collaboration and input from other professional disciplines