In just the past ten years, there has been immense progress in the field of autism research. We now know that signs of autism spectrum disorder can be seen as young as 18 months–perhaps even younger–and the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends a screening for all children between 18 and 24 months old.
As we learn more about ASD and children receive diagnoses at younger ages, what’s become undeniable is the positive outcomes that result from early intervention. When young children are given behavioral, occupational, or speech therapy under the age of 5, it greatly impacts their overall development and sets them up for a more successful life.
The Reason “Early” Matters
While the brain is always learning and forming new connections, the most vital time for brain development is before three years old. This is also when those connections are the most malleable. According to the CDC, “The connections in a baby’s brain are most adaptable in the first three years of life. These connections, also called neural circuits, are the foundation for learning, behavior, and health. Over time, these connections become harder to change.” The amount of overall progress and the rate at which that progress is made correlates with the age the interventions begin.
Those connections in the brain are a direct result of the experiences and interactions the child has and what that child is exposed to. Those who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder often need assistance with those experiences and interactions. They need to be specifically and intentionally taught how to play appropriately, how to interact with those around them, and how to manage certain behaviors. As a young child’s brain is so open and adaptable, the social and behavioral skills focused on by ABA has proven to be highly effective.
The Results of Early Intervention
Through the repetitive, purposeful practice ABA offers, such treatment caters to the minds of children on the spectrum. The skills are broken down into palatable steps, which allows the child to feel repeated success and clear growth. This type of therapy, especially for young children and especially early in life, can prevent or mitigate developmental delays.
The most exciting part of early intervention services is the ability research has shown it has to minimize the effects of ASD. Those who started treatment at an earlier age have been more likely to succeed in general education classrooms, improve their IQ significantly, and reduce many of their symptoms. In addition, those children who have started treatment as nonverbal often end up acquiring verbal skills.
After years of a “wait and see” philosophy, we are now seeing the importance of jumping into action right away, even before an official diagnosis. Treatments and therapies for young children have been proven to result in more positive outcomes with more advanced capabilities. Focusing on our children early, by getting them ready for the world around them at an age when they are being introduced to it, can make all the difference.
If you’re wondering if early intervention is the right move, give us a call today. Ready Set Connect provides early intervention services at multiple locations across New Hampshire, and is backed by over 65 years of experience in special education. We also provide ABA Therapy, Life Skills, and Social Skills programs for children of various ages.Contact Us