Behavioral therapy focuses on changing old and/or developing new behaviors in order to function better at home and in society. Classically, behavioral therapy uses different forms of behavioral conditioning to shape the specific targeted behavior. Neuro-behavioral therapy incorporates additional activities to improve the brain functions underlying these targeted behaviors, which may not directly shape the behavior but improves the brain function which then allows the behavior to be better shaped using more direct methods.
For example, there are many areas of the brain that are affected in the etiology of autism, including (and possibly surprisingly to some people) the cerebellum. The cerebellum is typically known to regulate balance and coordination, but the truth is that it does so much more than that – it is involved in the detailed functions of every major activity in the brain, such as motor activities, cognitive activities, emotional activities, sensory integration, etc. Therefore, improving the functions of the cerebellum allows a person with autism to better learn how to speak, to remember and learn better, to regulate their emotions better, etc. Thus, we use balance, coordination activities, and other cross-hemispheric communication activities such as playing table tennis or learning to juggle to improve the functions of the cerebellum. Neuro-behavioral therapy synergistically works in combination with more traditional behavioral therapy techniques, such as applied behavioral analysis [ABA]-like activities, to improve behavioral outcomes.