Over the years, doctors and practitioners have grown more skilled at diagnosing autism early on. When autism is diagnosed early, treatment can begin earlier. In most cases, doctors will recommend that children and their parents enroll in an early intervention program, as this tends to have a positive impact on long-term development. But what are the major elements of an early intervention autism program?
In order to help a child with autism succeed, everyone in the family needs to be on the same page. So, a lot of early intervention focuses on teaching the parents and siblings how to best interact with the child with autism. You'll learn a little more about autism, why your child displays certain behaviors, and how to respond to these behaviors. This can be a really good experience for the child's siblings and can help you all feel like this is something you're working on together, as a family.
Speech difficulties are often one of the first symptoms that turn a parent on to the fact that their child may have autism. The earlier a child with autism receives speech therapy, the more likely they are to develop good speech problems as they grow. Children with autism learn differently from other children, and a speech therapist with experience treating children with autism can use specialized methods to help them begin to speak or speak more clearly.
If your child struggles with fine motor skills and things like feeding themselves, then occupational therapy will be a big part of their early intervention program. At first, the occupational therapist may work on the very basics, like gripping a fork. But over time, they will start working with your child to teach them new, more specialized skills that they need to succeed in school and at home.
The final element of most early intervention programs is nutritional therapy or dietary counseling. Children on the autism spectrum often need to be on a specific diet in order to get enough nutrients and to avoid triggering foods. The dietitian can work with your whole family to design a diet that is beneficial for your child and also appealing enough that they will actually eat the foods.
The earlier your child starts receiving treatment for autism, the better the outcome is likely to be. Talk to your child's pediatrician for more information.
Visit an intervention center like Empower Behavioral Health & Intervention to learn more.