According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, research shows that early diagnosis of and interventions for autism are more likely to have major long-term positive effects on symptoms and later skills. Early interventions occur at or before preschool age, as early as 2 or 3 years of age. Early intervention programs often include:
- Family training
- Speech therapy
- Hearing impairment services
- Physical therapy
- Nutrition services
In this period, a young child’s brain is still forming, meaning it is more “plastic” or changeable than at older ages. Because of this plasticity, treatments have a better chance of being effective in the longer term.Early interventions not only give children the best start possible, but also the best chance of developing to their full potential. The sooner a child gets help, the greater the chance for learning and progress. In fact, recent guidelines suggest starting an integrated developmental and behavioral intervention as soon as ASD is diagnosed or seriously suspected.
There are many types of early intervention treatment. It is important that yo research what is the best fit for your child and family. A program that only provides 1-2 hours a week is not going to be as intensive as a program that provides 10-15 hours a week. You may need multiple therapies including speech, occupational therapy, and behavioral to put together a program that meets your child’s needs.
In California, there are different ways to get these services, but the two main ways for children who have autism or are suspected of having autism are:
- Early Start (through the Inland Regional Center)
- Medical Insurance