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Early Intervention

Autism - ASD - ABA Therapy - AG Behavioral Services - Edgewater, NJ - Early Intervention

The importance of early intervention for children with autism is highlighted by numerous studies and expert opinions. Research consistently shows that early diagnosis and interventions for autism have a significant long-term positive effect on symptoms and later skills. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can sometimes be diagnosed in children before they are 2 years old, and some children who appear to develop typically up to that point begin to regress around age 2.

Early interventions, occurring at or before preschool age, as early as 2 or 3 years old, are particularly effective due to the “plasticity” of the young brain, which is still forming and more adaptable than at older ages. This plasticity increases the chances of treatments being effective over the long term. Early interventions not only provide children with the best start possible but also enhance their chances of reaching their full potential. The earlier a child receives help, the greater the likelihood for learning and progress. In fact, guidelines suggest starting an integrated developmental and behavioral intervention as soon as ASD is diagnosed or seriously suspected.

One notable study, the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM), blended applied behavioral analysis (ABA) teaching methods with developmental ‘relationship-based’ approaches. It was designed for children as young as 12 months old. The intervention, provided in a toddler’s natural environment and delivered by trained therapists and parents, focused on building a relationship with the child and embedding learning opportunities in play. The results of this study were significant. Children in the intervention group displayed an average IQ improvement of approximately 18 points, compared to just over four points in the comparison group. Additionally, the intervention group showed nearly 18-point improvement in receptive language. Some children in the intervention group made enough progress to warrant a change in diagnosis from autism to ‘pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified’ (PDD-NOS), a milder condition.

The ESDM study emphasized the importance of structured teaching and a relationship-based approach to learning, highlighting the critical role of parental involvement. Parents were taught strategies for engaging their children and promoting communication, which were integrated into daily routines. This comprehensive approach significantly contributed to the children’s social, communicative, and overall developmental progress.

These findings underscore the critical importance of early intervention for children with autism, demonstrating that timely, structured, and family-inclusive interventions can lead to substantial improvements in various developmental areas.


What does the CDC say about Autism?

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Identifying Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be challenging as it lacks a definitive medical test, such as a blood test, for diagnosis. Instead, physicians assess the child’s developmental and behavioral patterns to determine the presence of ASD.

ASD can potentially be identified as early as 18 months. By the age of 2, a diagnosis made by a skilled professional is generally regarded as highly dependable. Yet, a definitive diagnosis often comes much later for many children. This postponement in diagnosis can result in a delay in receiving early intervention, which is crucial for children with ASD.

At present, there is no known cure for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). However, studies indicate that early intervention treatments can significantly enhance a child’s developmental progress. These early intervention services are aimed at children from birth to 3 years of age (36 months), focusing on developing vital skills. They may encompass therapies to assist the child in developing speech, mobility, and social interaction capabilities. Consequently, if you suspect your child might have ASD or any developmental issues, it is crucial to consult with your child’s healthcare provider promptly.

Children who have not been formally diagnosed with ASD might still be eligible for early intervention treatments. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), children younger than 3 years (36 months) who are potentially at risk of developmental delays can qualify for these services. These are available through an early intervention system in each state, where you can request an evaluation for your child.

Furthermore, specific symptom treatments, like speech therapy for language delays, often do not require a formal ASD diagnosis before beginning.

The full range of causes for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) remains unknown, but it is believed to arise from multiple sources, leading to various types of ASD. A combination of factors, including environmental, biological, and genetic influences, may increase a child’s likelihood of developing ASD.

It is widely accepted among experts that genetics play a key role as a risk factor in the development of ASD. The risk is higher for children who have a sibling diagnosed with ASD. Additionally, individuals with specific genetic or chromosomal disorders, like fragile X syndrome or tuberous sclerosis, are more prone to developing ASD.

Certain medications prescribed during pregnancy, namely valproic acid and thalidomide, have been associated with a heightened risk of ASD. Research suggests that the critical window for the development of ASD is around the time before, during, and immediately after birth. Furthermore, children of older parents face an increased risk of ASD.

ASD remains a critical issue in public health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with families impacted by ASD, are dedicated to uncovering the causes of this disorder. Gaining a deeper understanding of what predisposes an individual to ASD is crucial. To this end, the CDC is conducting one of the most extensive studies in the U.S., named the Study to Explore Early Development (SEED). This study investigates various potential risk factors for ASD, encompassing genetic, environmental, pregnancy-related, and behavioral factors.

ASD affects individuals across all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. However, it is observed to be approximately four times more prevalent in boys than in girls.

For more than ten years, the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network has been tracking the prevalence of ASD among children in the United States. This monitoring has provided substantial insights into the number of U.S. children affected by ASD. Continuously employing these tracking methods over time is vital to understand the evolving trends and learn more about the nature of the disorder.


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