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Importance of Early Intervention in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder is defined as a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in social communication and social interaction and the presence of restricted repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities present during early periods of development that negatively impact social, occupational or other domains. 

Early intervention refers to the special services and support that are provided to meet the child’s unique needs that help to further their optimal and maximal development. 

ASD can sometimes be detected at 18 months of age or younger. By age 2, a diagnosis by an experienced professional can be considered reliable. However, many children do not receive a final diagnosis until much older. 

The identification of an Autism Spectrum Disorder is difficult before the age of about 12 months but diagnosis is ordinarily possible by the age of two years. 

Some early signs of Autism include: 

  • Lack of eye contact 
  • Delayed or absent language development 
  • Acquired speech and lost it 
  • Stereotyped and Repetitive motor behavior 
  • Remains aloof 
  • Overly sensitive to sensory stimuli such as touch, light, or sound 
  • Has difficulty in developing social relationships 

In addition, it is frequent for individuals with an autism spectrum disorder to show a range of other non-specific problems such as fears or phobias, sleeping and eating disturbances, temper tantrums, and aggression. Self-injury (such as wrist biting) is fairly common, especially when it is associated with intellectual disability. 

Some children stop using language, play or social skills that they’ve already learned, which could be a red flag for Autism. 

If you find any of the above symptoms in your child do visit your doctor or nearby Therapy centre for further assessment as Early intervention in Autism has proved to give a major long-term positive effects on symptoms and later skills. 

Early interventions occur at or before preschool age, as early as 2 or 3 years of age. In this period, a young child’s brain is still forming, meaning it is more “plastic” or changeable than at older ages. Because of this plasticity, treatments have a better chance of being effective in the longer term. 

Early intervention typically involves a combination of  Therapies such as Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy and Special Education. 

Occupational Therapists use holistic approaches with children and their families that emphasize functional, developmentally appropriate approaches. By recognizing that children are part of a 

family system, the therapist designs programs that fit into the family’s daily routine, considers sensory, motor (gross and fine), social, and cognitive aspects of performance, and emphasizes play as 

the child’s primary occupation.

"Early intervention strategies: A boy child happily playing with his mom.- Autism Connect

Early Speech Therapy has proved to show a substantial increase in cognitive ability, effective communication, better social skills, and most importantly, a decrease in anxiety levels. In addition, children with ASD could better express themselves, improving their self-esteem. 

 

Special education programs provide therapies and educational services to preschool and school-age children in the least restrictive environment. Early intervention and special education programs provide support and services to children with disabilities so they can develop, learn, and grow to reach their fullest potential. 

"Early intervention strategies: A girl child happily playing with her mom - Autism Connect

Interprofessional collaboration using a multidisciplinary approach can be a major determinant in increasing the positive health care and educational outcomes of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder(ASD). 

 

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