Early Intervention for Effective Outcomes
By Rose Akinsehinwa
Research has shown that children with Autism who got early intervention made faster and remarkable progress than those who did not. Early intervention is important – so when children at about ages 2 to 3 years start showing the early signs like: delayed speech, non-responsiveness to their names, prolonged crying and tantrums, disinterest in playing with other children, poor eye contact, challenges with school and paying attention, amongst others, such parents should begin to seek professional help and intervention, rather than assume that “it will just go away”. Parents can get help from a variety of sources, including but not limited to the following:
- Hospitals: Even though there is currently no medical test to detect autism, some doctors have been trained to screen and diagnose some of the underlying physiological challenges that present with autism – e.g. problems with digestion, high levels of toxins, allergies and intolerances to certain foods or environmental factors, sensory disorders and nutritional deficiencies.. Trained doctors can administer bio-medical treatments that can help to address these issues and assist the children with their recovery. A strong relationship has been established between these physiological challenges and the symptoms of autism.
- Intervention Centers: Autism intervention centers are usually specialized in education, speech therapy, gross and fine motor skills, social interaction issues and behavioral interventions. Before any of these interventions are carried out, an assessment of the child is done to determine which intervention is required and done appropriately.
- Schools: As the incidence of autism is increasing, some schools have incorporated an inclusive curriculum to be able to accommodate all children including those with autism. Special educators are being trained to teach these children at their pace with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). Inclusive programs run by schools provide children on the autism spectrum opportunities to receive the intensive specialist education that they need and at the same time get mainstreamed into normal school classes.
- Dieticians and Nutritionists: A number of children on the autism spectrum have need special diets due to a combination of physiological deficiencies, allergies and intolerances that they may have. They may therefore need to see a nutritionist or dietician to provide appropriate food/supplement recommendations based on the outcomes of the medical examinations conducted.
- Parent’s Fora and societies: Parents should take advantage of peer groups and meetings where parents of children with autism and other stake holders meet to share experiences, get trained and interact. Here, parents can parents can get support from each other and expand their knowledge and understanding of the condition and how best to cope.
With the available help options, parents should not ‘wait and see’ but take immediate action as it has been proven that early intervention gives better outcomes for most young children with autism. It is hoped that by providing intervention at a very young age, children can achieve better results on their journey of autism.