Understanding the Significant Impact of Early Intervention
Early intervention can make a significant difference in the life of a child and their family. Although many children do not receive a formal diagnosis until closer to the age of 2, there may be signs that your child’s development is not progressing as early as 9 months. Screening can now detect indications of Autism Spectrum Disorder as early as 12 months. For the past three decades, ABA therapy has been the cornerstone of treatment in young children with autism. In fact, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the only therapy approved by the U.S. Surgeon General in the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Research indicates that early, high intensity intervention beginning with children who are 2-4 years old may have the best outcomes for improving a child’s development. During this time, a child’s brain has a high degree of neuroplasticity which allows the brain to form new connections, especially while learning. As such, when a child begins an ABA therapy program earlier, there is a greater opportunity to foster a significant difference in their progress and development.
Areas of Development That Can Be Addressed
Areas of development that can be addressed during early intervention include social skills, play skills, communication skills, cognitive skills, daily living skills and managing problem behaviors that are in excess. When young children receive therapy based on the best practices and research, it helps them gain skills to be successful and have meaningful interactions across settings such as their home, community, and school.
Early intervention helps address areas of concern by using alternative teaching strategies. Complex skills are broken down into smaller steps. These steps can be more easily taught and understood to decrease frustration. Intense early intervention allows the child to continually practice each step of the task until they are able to string together the steps into a complex skill. Visual aids or pictures may be used to increase the child’s understanding of spoken words and instructions. Additionally, written schedules and predictable routines can help the child understand what to expect, therefore decreasing problematic behaviors.
Early intervention particularly helps once a child attends school and is expected to learn in a group. Group learning can be difficult for children with autism. Early intervention gives a child a foundation to stand on because they have already worked on learning readiness skills and are familiar with the information and expectations being presented in school. This will give the child confidence at school because they feel prepared and ready to learn new things.