The Importance of Early Intervention for Individuals with Autism
Hello and Happy New Year, friends! Let's make 2013 rock! This year my resolution is to continue educating myself and you about anything and everything autism and special needs related so be sure and look for my blog post every week.
So why is early intervention for autism so important?
Studies have shown that infants and children up to age 5 have high neural plasticity, which means that their brain absorbs information and acquires new skills at a rapid rate. Neural plasticity typically declines with age, so sooner is definitely better when it comes to getting treatment for your child. It's best not to gamble with the idea that your child's learning delay is just a phase that they will grow out of.
This does not mean that older children and adults cannot continue to learn and progress, because that isn't true. Humans continue learning throughout life, however it's easier to learn skills and modify behavior at a younger age. Though it's never too late to get help and begin treatment, sooner is preferred. Early intervention is known to have long-term results. It is common for children with autism to learn at a slower pace than their typically developing peers, which is another reason to begin intervention as early as possible to get them on track with their peers and prepare them for adulthood.
What type of intervention is most effective and what are the goals?
Though there are many therapies available to individuals with autism, applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the most effective evidence-based therapy available. The recommended number of hours of intensive therapy is 25-40 per week according to recent studies. Consistency, reinforcement and teaching a variety of different skills are all essential to effective therapy.
The goals of early intervention are play skills development, cognitive skills development, social skills development, functional communication and eliminating or minimizing problem behavior. Many successes have been made and lives have been changed with the help of intensive ABA therapy.