How early intervention can help your child with autism

Source: Verywell Health
Written by: Lis Jo Rudy

Common knowledge says that parents, upon receiving an autism diagnosis for their child, should run—not walk—to the nearest early intervention center.

Early intensive intervention, it is said, is the key to “optimal outcomes” for children with autism. Scientists have long known that the brain grows quickly between the ages of zero and three, which suggests that early intervention would be an ideal way to treat a childhood disorder.

Can Early Intervention Cure Autism?

At least one study suggests that about 14% of children with autism who undergo two intensive years of a program called the Early Start Denver Model will improve radically. In fact, those children would no longer qualify for autism diagnoses if they were being evaluated at a later age. A similar program called LEAP had similar outcomes. There is even some evidence that these programs can change the way the brain functions. Click here to read the rest of the story

There are, however, a few caveats to this finding.

  • First, of course, is the fact that the vast majority of children who undergo intensive early intervention do not improve radically. Yes, their symptoms may improve, but they may still have very significant delays and challenges.
  • Second is the finding that even those children whose autism symptoms improve radically are left with developmental and/or behavioral challenges. In fact, those children are often diagnosable with disorders such as ADHD, learning disabilities, intellectual disability, and so forth.
  • Third, an accurate autism diagnosis is, by definition, a lifelong diagnosis. Symptoms that are difficult to identify in a 6-year-old can become serious challenges in a 20-year-old. Problems with pragmatic speech, anxiety, and repetitive behaviors often emerge as people are exposed to more complex and challenging situations.

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