Early intervention can sound a bit scary. Some professionals are even hesitant to diagnose autism too young, for fear of “labeling.” But the truth is, studies show that early intervention can benefit children with autism in some amazing ways. Let’s break down why.
General Development Evaluation
For Children with autism, behavioral signs can emerge as early as 6 to 12 months. Most professionals will wait until 18 months to officially diagnose, as symptoms can continue to emerge or dissipate in that time. However, between 18 months and 24 months, symptoms can re-emerge, like children showing signs of regression.
That back and forth can be a lot to worry and wonder about. However, If a parent is concerned about the general development of their children, they should be sure to seek general development evaluations at every checkup with their pediatricians. It’s never too early for these evaluations, as they help check on general development. They can also cue professionals in to whether or not a child is displaying early signs of being on the autism spectrum.
Early Intervention Improves Children’s Outcomes
Starting an early intervention program shortly after diagnosis has been shown to improve children’s behavioral outcomes drastically. A scientific commentarypublished by the University of California, Santa Barbara, found that “the earlier the onset of intervention, the greater likelihood of an improved developmental trajectory.” This means early intervention can have long term benefits that last throughout a child’s life, improving the chances that they will enter adulthood with more developed social skills and confidence, having overcome their challenges early.
How to Find an Effective Early Intervention Program
The most impressive and effective programs tend to have similar characteristics.
- For one, they are designed to be autism-specific and not just for general behavior issues. This ensures they program with children on the spectrum’s unique needs and strengths in mind.
- They tend to be instructional- teaching your child in a way that highlights their skills, rewarding positive behavior, and reducing instances of repetitive behavioral issues.
- They offer information and transparency to parents. In other words, they are clear about your child’s progress, updating you and providing further support and resources to supplement the therapy at home.
- They are highly structured- but use a mix of methods to strategically treat your child and ensure they are enjoying themselves as they learn.
- Last but not least, they are backed by proven results and research, and are administered by appropriately certified therapists.
One such program is Applied Behavior Analysis therapy, also known as ABA therapy. ABA therapy is backed by research and proven to be an effective treatment for children with autism if intensive and well-structured.
You can never be too careful when it comes to your children. Early intervention can help children on the spectrum lead independent and fulfilling lives, by highlighting their strengths and helping them overcome behavioral challenges and social barriers