Study: Early Intervention ABA Therapy for Children With Autism is Critical
An extensive clinical report on autism spectrum disorder released by the American Academy of Pediatrics summarizes more than a dozen years of research – and concludes what our Akron ABA therapy team has been preaching for years: Early intervention is key.
The analysis, which lists a huge source of references and clinical findings over the years, also officially scraps the diagnoses of Asperger’s syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder and puts all children with these diagnostic characteristics under the umbrella of “autism spectrum disorder,” or ASD for short. Symptoms (as you may be well aware) include:
- Difficulties with conversation
- Trouble with nonverbal communication
- Challenges reading social cues and relationships
- Restricted behavior patterns
- Repetitive movements
- Sensory differences
- Fixated interests
- Rigid routines
The key point made, however, was that we have an increased understanding and awareness of conditions that often occur simultaneously with autism, which has led to more planning and support. Additionally, there has been a greater emphasis on early diagnosis and referral for treatment, such as ABA therapy, even when ASD is suspected but not yet confirmed. The earlier the treatment begins, the better outcomes are recorded.
Goal is To Start Therapy as Early as Possible
Although the average age of an autism diagnosis is currently around 4 years, the AAP states the goal is to make a diagnosis far sooner, well under age 2. This is particularly true for kids who may be at higher risk of developing ASD, for instance with those who have a brother or sister with the diagnosis. These individuals should receive early screenings and close monitoring.
Although our Akron ABA therapy team at Therapy & Wellness Connection understands that some parents are reluctant to “label” their child, an autism diagnosis is best thought of as a key that unlocks the door to critical services. Early intervention is especially important given that wait lists at specialty clinics can be extensive. Taking a “wait-and-see” approach can cause kids to lose valuable ground.
Even if they are wait-listed for full evaluations or therapy services, toddlers and young kids can be referred to specialty preschool programs and intervention teams. The report’s authors, developmental and behavioral pediatricians and professors, say these new guidelines are partially intended to encourage physicians not to shy away from the diagnosis.
Why ABA Therapy is So Important
Children on the autism spectrum can expect to be prescribed a range of treatments, including speech therapy, occupational therapy and behavior therapy (ABA is short for Applied Behavioral Analysis).
ABA in particular is considered the “gold standard” of autism treatment, as it targets certain “unexpected behaviors,” identifies the triggers and rewards “expected behaviors.”
The sooner a child begins ABA therapy, the better they’re going to learn how to socially communicate.
More Blog Entries:
ABA Therapists Use “Extinction” to Reduce Interfering Behavior, March 11, 2020, ABA Therapy Blog