We have all heard that it is best to give children who are diagnosed on the autism spectrum and or with any other developmental disorder early childhood intervention. With the assessment processing often feeling overwhelming and daunting I thought it would be helpful to explore why early intervention is important and look at why is intervening early so important. As well as outlinging what early childhood intervention programs should look like. 

Many signs of autism are observable well before the age of three, however the average age for diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder is around four years old.  If a parent notices many of these early signs, they should bring up their concerns with a psychologist, general practitioner or their paediatrician for further evaluation.

Research shows that intervention focusing on social and communicative development should start as soon as possible. 

Why start therapeutic intervention early? 

Therapeutic services for children from birth through five years old, are considered early intervention. Study after study shows that children who receive early and intensive treatment have far better outcomes in areas of cognition, social behaviours and communication. 

Young children’s brains are growing at a rapid rate, this is a time where so much is happening, and their brains are more malleable. Early education and intervention provide the child with opportunities to learn and grow which will help them achieve greater success in the future and an improved quality of life.

What does early intervention look like?

Early intervention can include a variety of therapies that focus on areas of weakness or delay including psychology, speech, occupational, physical and ABA therapy. Programs should be research based and tailored to the child’s needs. They ought to actively involve the adults in a child’s life (e.g. paretns) to faciliate a greater rate of change and gneralisation of skills from one area to another. 

Therapeutic programs will traditionally include spontaneous communication, cognitive development, play and social interaction skills and proactively approach problem behaviours.

References:

https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/index.html

http://www.nationalautismcenter.org/

http://ectacenter.org/contact/619coord.asp