The term developmental therapy refers to a set of therapies intended to directly address the core deficits of autism, i.e. difficulties with social and communication skills and emotional engagement. It is also very child-specific, and requires a great deal of involvement, effort, and creativity on the part of parents.
Developmental therapy stands in contrast to a number of other more traditional therapies:
- behavioral therapy
- pharmaceutical intervention
- biomedical intervention
- speech therapy
- physical therapy
- occupational therapy (OT)
The about.com article linked below is the source for all of the above and is good reading.
In practical usage – especially with regard to government-funded mental health social services (in the US, anyway) – the term is apparently broadened somewhat to include any activities intended to address behavioral issues, such as going for walks or other outings if this helps the client to relax and be more receptive to other interaction.
In this usage, it is one of several categories of care, including: