Why Was the Ziggurat Model Created?

The Ziggurat Model was created when Drs. Aspy and Grossman sought to speak to teachers about how to work with students on the autism spectrum. They wanted to improve services for individuals on the autism spectrum. In planning the presentation, they discussed the common pitfalls in typical approaches to developing intervention plans. First, while parents and professionals often felt lost in how to help. Often, interventions were haphazardly assembled without giving thought as to which would be appropriate for a specific person or to address a specific behavior. Next, intervention plans were made without a complete picture of the person’s challenges. Simply put, parents and professionals were working in the dark. Moreover, without an understanding of autism, there was a tendency to label behaviors—and individuals—as being defiant or oppositional. Last, there was a tendency to adopt a few intervention techniques in an attempt to address complex needs. In doing so, critical needs were overlooked.

Drs. Aspy and Grossman created the Ziggurat model in response to these and other concerns. The Ziggurat Model offers a step-by-step process for addressing the complex needs of individuals on the spectrum. It is a roadmap in which to navigate the maze. The Model incorporates assessment tools that help users to identify the deficits and strengths of an individual on the spectrum and to better understand behaviors. Once these are known, interventions can be developed to target the challenges while building on strengths and established skills. A key premise of the model is that autism is apervasive developmental disorder. It is shortsighted to think that a narrow approach will address complex needs. The Ziggurat Model results in a comprehensive intervention plan. The Model provides a five-tiered framework that an intervention plan must address. Use of the levels facilitates a more complete intervention plan.