Several research studies show that early diagnosis and interventions for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are more likely to have sustainable and significant positive effects on the symptoms and later skills of a child with Autism. In fact, proper early interventions may even erase the signs of Autism altogether and alter the course of life of children with ASD. It is possible to diagnose ASD in children as early as 18 months old. Similarly, it is entirely possible to start treatments, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy as soon as your child receives an Autism diagnosis.
The qualified and experienced ABA therapy experts at AB Spectrum explain the importance and advantages of early interventions in treating Autism.
ABA therapy is one of the most powerful, evidence-based treatments currently available for treating ASD in children and adults. Over the years, ABA therapy has evolved significantly, and today, it represents a broad group of techniques that use rewards and positive reinforcements for treating individuals with ASD.
Here are just a few examples of ABA-based early interventions used to treat Autism
Early Start Denver Model (ESDM): Applies ABA techniques through play therapy to help the child speak, express feelings, and forge relationships. ESDM focuses on building the child’s social-emotional makeup while strengthening language and cognitive skills.
Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT): Another form of play therapy, PRT targets pivotal developmental areas, such as self-management and motivation. The child learns how to respond to verbal clues and other social skills, such as speaking quietly, sitting still, playing nicely, and more.
Joint Attention, Symbolic Play, Engagement & Regulation (JASPER): This is a combination of behavioral and developmental principles and techniques that target the foundation of social communication.
Discrete Trial Training (DTT): In this technique, the therapist breaks down the target skills into smaller steps and focuses on repetition and incidental teaching.
There are several other ABA-based techniques that Autism treatment centers use for training the individual with ASD, or even their families. For example, in the Preschool Autism Communication Trial (PACT), the therapists teach parents or caregivers how to recognize the child’s attempts to communicate and respond with enhanced sensitivity.
There is no shortage of scientific evidence about the effectiveness of early interventions in helping individuals with ASD. However, as parents, you may have several other questions. For example:
Isn’t it too early to start therapy? It is never too early, sooner the better! From a neuroscience perspective, the earlier you intervene, the greater the chances of changing and remolding the developing brain of your child. Early autism interventions have the power to reduce and prevent challenging behaviors from becoming a habit as age increases. In fact, early individualized therapy also helps in preparing your child for the group learning environment that they will experience when they reach school age.
Shouldn’t we let the child play and learn on their own? Neurotypical individuals usually pick up a number of skills on their own through observation or imitation. However, children with ASD may need a helping hand in developing everyday skills, such as how to handle toys or objects or interact socially. ABA-based therapies involve breaking down, deliberately teaching, and practicing such skills, which in turn help the child to participate in play or peer group activities.
Will the therapy be too demanding for my child? Experts suggest that early interventions, such as ABA therapy produce the most effective results when conducted for an average of 30-40 hours per week over an extended period of time. Although that may sound like intense therapy, ABA-based techniques are customizable to the needs and goals of each child. This means it is up to your therapists to create fun and engaging sessions and ensure that the child’s learning is meaningful and long-lasting.
What do you do in therapy that we cannot do by ourselves? Qualified and experienced ABA therapists can design a learning curriculum that focuses on your child’s unique needs and situations. Your inputs and active participation in the therapy will help in applying the principles and techniques of ABA to real-life experiences, beyond the formal therapy sessions. Hence, ABA therapy is also an opportunity for you to learn new techniques that will benefit the quality of interactions you have with your child.
At Autism and Behavior Spectrum (AB Spectrum), our goal is to promote the function and independence of every child with ASD and improve the quality of life of the entire family. Since no two children learn in the exact same way, our ABA therapy specialists:
Create tailor-made development programs and learning strategies based on your child’s unique needs.
Modify the length and frequency of the sessions to ensure that they remain enjoyable and engaging for the child.
Conduct regular reviews and adjust the curriculum according to the child’s progress.
Provide flexible therapy options through our ASD therapy centers in Chesterfield and St. Charles, or through in-home sessions, or a combination of both.
Focus on early interventions for developing the child’s self-help skills, communication skills, and school readiness skills.
As the world’s first Reggio Emilia ABA therapy center, we use a “Learning through play” approach and follow the philosophy of Natural Environment Training (NET) to bring about positive and sustainable changes for families dealing with ASD.
To know more about early interventions for Autism, speak to the experts at AB Spectrum. Call 314.648.2687 or book a no-fee consultation at one of our ABA therapy clinics in the St. Louis area of Missouri. Are you concerned that your child is showing signs of Autism? Use our free online Autism screening questionnaire to find out more.
Helt, M., Kelley, E., Kinsbourne, M., Pandey, J., Boorstein, H., Herbert, M., et al. (2008). Can children with autism recover? If so, how? Neuropsychology Review, 18(4), 339–366.
Dawson, G., Rogers, S., Munson, J., Smith, M., Winter, J., Greenson, J., et al. (2010). Randomized, controlled trial of an intervention for toddlers with autism: the Early Start Denver Model. Pediatrics, 125(1), e17–23.
National Research Council, Committee on Educational Interventions for Children with Autism. Educating Children With Autism. Lord, C., McGee, J. P., eds. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2001.