Early Intervention

Early Intervention.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) impacts approximately 1 in 54 children in the United States, spanning various ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Whether the prevalence of ASD is on the rise, or our diagnostic abilities have improved, it’s evident that early intervention plays a crucial role in children’s development.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Therapy emerges as a vital early intervention tool for children with ASD. Initiating ABA therapy early equips children to excel in the classroom, reducing disruptive behaviors and enhancing their learning potential. Although autism lacks a cure, intervening as early as 18 months offers the best chance for promoting healthy development.

Early intervention plays a key role in addressing challenging behavior, enhancing IQ, and facilitating the acquisition of age- and developmentally-appropriate language and learning skills, effectively preparing children for kindergarten and beyond.

The sooner a child receives ABA therapy, the better equipped he or she will be to grow into a productive learner in the classroom. In turn, this can reduce problem behaviors and boost an ability to learn.

When a child with ASD starts ABA therapy after beginning school, they may already lag behind their peers in terms of meeting developmental and academic milestones.

  • The earlier a child begins ABA therapy, the more prepared they become for successful learning in the classroom.
  • Many children can now receive an ASD diagnosis by age two, a diagnosis that can be made as early as 18 months due to the ability to identify signs of ASD at this young age.
  • ABA therapy directly influences brain development, improving the child’s ability to communicate effectively in everyday situations.
  • Infants and toddlers with ASD often exhibit changes in their social and language skills, as well as potential differences in behavior.

ABA therapy helps children with ASD learn skills to increase positive behaviors (like communicating) and reduce challenging behaviors (like tantrums).

ABA focuses on diminishing challenging behaviors and preparing children for a smoother transition into group learning settings as they approach school age.

Initiating ABA therapy early equips children to excel in the classroom, reducing disruptive behaviors and enhancing their learning potential.

Early signs of ASD fall into three skill categories: communication, social, and behavioral: 

Communication Skills

  • Doesn’t respond to his/her name
  • No single words by 15 months or 2-word phrases by 24 months
  • Repeats words but doesn’t seem to understand the meaning
  • Lack of interest in communicating

Social Skills

  • Failure to maintain eye contact
  • Lack of response to smiling/facial expressions 
  • Inappropriate facial expressions
  • Difficulty reading facial expressions
  • Not looking at objects when they are pointed out
  • Not pointing out objects

Physical/Behavioral Skills

  • Rocks, spins, twirls fingers, flaps hands
  • Walks on toes for a long time
  • Likes routines and has trouble with change or transition to new activities
  • Can become obsessed with a particular object or interest
  • Repeats activities continually
  • Overly sensitive or not sensitive at all to smell, sound, light, texture, or touch

For the first time in 12 years, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated its screening guidelines (January 2020) for children with autism to be administered by healthcare professionals regularly beginning at 9 months for 9-month intervals up to 30-months visits.

Autism Spectrum Disorder affects all races and ethnicities, but research shows that as many as 1 in 4 children with autism go undiagnosed, the majority of whom are African-American and Latino children with autism. Early diagnosis of ASD can make a significant difference in the life of a child, possibly reducing the disorder’s effects and helping the child thrive in life.

Diagnosis and early intervention for children as young as 18 months is effective for improving IQ, language ability, and social interaction. ABA therapy forms the basis for most interventions delivered early in childhood, changing a child’s developmental path and improve outcomes for children and families.