Early intervention important for autism
Early intervention for children with autism is important in helping them better improve their lives.
Although often difficult to diagnose, milestones to look for in an autistic child include developmental delays.
Many of the signs of autism tend to be subtle, noted Dr. Cora Taylor, a pediatric psychologist at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville.
“Fairly new research can show abnormalities in the first year of life,” she said. “Sometimes it’s very hard to put your finger on. Most families don’t bring a child to clinical attention in the first year or so.”
And yet, it’s that first year of life that is such a very important time in a child’s development.
The Centers for Disease Control describes Autism Spectrum Disorders as “a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.”
People with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways different from most others. The learning, thinking and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged.
There is no known single cause for autism, although research points to genetic components. Autism is 4 1/2 times more likely to affect boys than girls.
Why is early intervention of autism so important?
“We can have more of an influence then,” Taylor said. “We can ultimately see better outcomes.”
Early intervention is offered in schools and through other programs and services.
Speech and occupational therapy and applied behavior analysis are among the outreach strategies for helping autistic children.
“Schools are really integral partners.” Taylor said. “There is a range of services a child can get within a school system.”
She noted the placement of a child with autism should focus on a particular individual’s needs.
Taylor said there seems to generally be an increasing awareness of autism.
Still, many parents who suspect a child may be autistic are unsure of where to turn.
“Talk to the primary care doctor,” Taylor said. “They can contact early intervention. It can start even without an autism diagnosis. Intermediate Units are there. Talk to school officials. I really encourage parents to talk.”
The good news is that autism is being better recognized in infants than ever before.
The Centers for Disease Control’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring reported last year that about 1 in 68 children in the U.S. has been identified with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.