The early months of a child’s life are often the most challenging time for parents. However, some children begin struggling with social interactions, and the parent suspects autism. In such cases, an early autism diagnosis can make a world of difference for parents and children with ASD. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) presents in 1 in 4 children with signs and symptoms as early as six to eight months of age. Children with autism usually respond well to early intervention therapy programs that help them develop verbal and nonverbal language skills. Through early intervention, they gain social skills and begin to understand the world around them. Early intervention programs help parents and their children bond and develop a communicative home life while encouraging healthy social life and overall independence as children age.
At EMIT, we offer early intervention telehealth therapy programs for children ages 1.5 to 18 with varying degrees of autism across New Jersey. Learn more about our programs by calling us today at 844.983.0240.
What Is Early Intervention for Autism?
Early intervention programs help children around age 2 or 3. During this time, a child’s brain is considered more “plastic” or changeable, giving habit-forming activities a long-lasting effect. This plasticity makes early intervention a tool to improve symptoms, and, for some, it can even lead them to grow out of the spectrum as they reach adulthood. Early intervention focuses on a child’s lack of mirroring skills, difficulty, lack of communication, and other developmental challenges in the early months of life. Early intervention treatment therapy may include the following:
- Speech therapy: Speech therapy helps children strengthen their mouth, tongue, and neck muscles while practicing diction and inflection for clear speech.
- Mirroring games: Mirroring practices help children develop social cues and socially interact with the surrounding world.
- Games: Visual games with cards and images can help children identify objects, practice reading facial expressions, and use images to communicate, even if they are nonverbal learners.
- Nutrition counseling: It’s becoming increasingly popular to assess a child’s allergies and nutrition to determine how their diet impacts their symptoms.
- Physical therapy: Strengthening exercises with a therapist can help muscle tone and development for those with physical developmental delays and challenges.
- Family therapy: A strong support systems are crucial at any stage of an autism diagnosis. Family therapy works to create and maintain systems for support, understanding, and resilience that support the entire family.
For many, early intervention is the key to living a relatively normal life with a strong and supportive family. While each therapy is as unique as each child’s autism symptoms, it’s always best to find a treatment program and clinicians to support your child and family’s unique lifestyle and needs.
What to Look for in an Early Intervention Program
There are many types of early intervention therapies for autism. However, many of the most successful programs utilize the principles of ABA or applied behavioral analysis therapy. ABA focuses on rewarding good behavior and ignoring less desired behavior to train a child through positive response. ABA programs are relatively easy to use in early intervention. We can tailor the treatment to each child’s symptoms, adapting as a child learns and grows.
ESDM or Early Start Denver Model uses ABA techniques to help children express feelings and bond while playing to build social-emotional and language skills. PRT or pivotal response treatment also uses play to help children develop specific skills, such as naming toys or foods. These and other early intervention therapies focus on repetition, building patterns and skills through practice. They use play as a method of connection and engagement while parents and therapists watch a child’s progress over time.
Other programs might promise “quick fixes,” but early intervention is about a learner’s marathon, not the sprint to a cure. The best programs keep parents and children engaged, growing, and communicating as the child grows to develop social, emotional, and language skills.
Contact EMIT for More Information
Each child with autism deserves to be the best version of themself possible, and, with the help of early intervention services, they can be. To determine what treatment is best for your child, please contact EMIT today at 844.983.0240.