Early Intervention With Autism

December 05, 2017


Pinnacle_SignsofAutismInfographicAutism is increasing in numbers and is the fastest growing developmental disability in the US. The frequency of autism increased 119.4 percent in a timespan of 10 years — 2000 to 2010. The dramatic increase of people with autism is a hotly debated topic, but it could be partly because more doctors are able to identify and diagnose it, or the fact that it has a broader definition some more people are being included in the spectrum.


30 years ago autism was still in its infancy, and a lack of research and support left parents and caregivers overwhelmed and frustrated when it came to understanding their child’s needs. As research continues to emerge and more people are becoming aware of what autism is, the better we can serve those who have it.


Why early diagnosis is important


With all controversy aside, every autism advocate and expert can agree: the earlier autism is detected and treated, the better. Afterall, a child’s brain has much more plasticity and is greatly more adaptable, therefore early intervention and intensive therapy can give the brain a little nudge to reroute itself around the faulty pathways. Therapies differ, but the most effective strategies come from applied behavior analysis (ABA) that encourage and teach kids life and social skills that come naturally to most of us — things like making eye contact, engaging with groups of people, and controlling behavior.


For children on the autism spectrum, early intervention is helpful for them to prepare to relate better emotionally, and hopefully lessen their separation experiences. Even in the most severe forms of autism which leave a child unable to verbally communicate, early intervention can teach them ways of doing so.


Overall, early intervention with ABA therapy is a way for the child to focus solely on their behavior, and receiving positive feedback when they’re able to relate to the world around them. Early intervention is also crucial for parents to learn what positive responses to reward to get the most out of their child.    


How do I determine an early diagnosis?


The prior accepted diagnosis for a child couldn’t be firmly diagnosed and treated until the age of three, which by today’s standards, is late. Autism diagnostics have come a long way, and there are now screenings that can help diagnose a child with autism as early as 18 months, maybe even younger. Autism, however, may present itself in different ways, unique to that child. If you as a parent sense something is off, advocate for your child. Doctor’s often misdiagnose autism in babies as colic, but it can be tough for both the doctor and parent because the doctor doesn’t spend the amount of time with your child as you do. Be persistent; your doctor has the best of intentions, but they may not be keen to early warning signs and developmental delays.


Always trust your instincts


You are around your child more than anyone, so don’t discount that. Always trust your instinct if you think your child has autism, and seek second opinions if need be. When you see your pediatrician and raise concerns, be very direct. At the beginning of the appointment tell them exactly what you see, such as “my child doesn’t look me in the eyes,” or “my child didn’t reach a specific milestone.”


If your child is under the age of three, you may be able to take advantage of state-funded early intervention screenings. These screenings provide a free developmental assessment, and can reference your child to different specialists. So, if you have questions or need a specialist, resources are available.


Pinnacle Autism Therapy


At Pinnacle Therapy, we offer comprehensive services from in-home services, clinical and specialty services, to community outreach and workshops.


Call us today for more information.

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