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Autism Spectrum Disorders and Early Intervention Services


  • Published: 2012-01-04 (Revised/Updated 2017-02-26) : Author: Wendy Taormina-Weiss : Contact: Disabled World
  • Synopsis: Research has demonstrated early intervention services can greatly improve the development of a child with autism spectrum disorder.

Children with autism can benefit from early intervention services. Research has demonstrated that early intervention services can greatly improve a child's development.

Autism is broadly defined as a complex developmental disability that causes problems with social interaction and communication. Symptoms usually start before age three and can cause delays or problems in many different skills that develop from infancy to adulthood. Different people with autism can have very different symptoms. Health care providers think of autism as a "spectrum" disorder, a group of disorders with similar features. One person may have mild symptoms, while another may have serious symptoms. But they both have an autism spectrum disorder. Currently, the autism spectrum disorder category includes: Autistic disorder (also called classic autism); Asperger syndrome; Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (or atypical autism). In some cases, health care providers use a broader term, pervasive developmental disorder, to describe autism.

Early intervention services are designed to serve children who are between the ages of birth and three years old, helping them to learn skills that are important.

Early intervention services include therapy to assist children with talking, interacting with others, and walking. It is very important to speak with your child's doctor as soon as you can after your child has been born if you suspect your child has a form of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or perhaps another form of developmental disability. Even if you haven't received a diagnosis of an ASD for your child, the might be eligible for early intervention services.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) states that children who are under the age of three, and who are at risk of having developmental delays, might be eligible for services. Early intervention services are provided to you through a system that is located in your own state. You can approach the early intervention services system in your state and ask for an evaluation for your child.

One of the things that is really helpful where early intervention services is concerned is that treatment for specific symptoms, such as speech therapy for language delays, many times don't require parents to have a formal diagnosis of ASD for their child. It's also important to remember that while early intervention is very important, intervention at any age certainly helps.

What Does Early Intervention Services Do for My Child?

Early intervention services is wonderful because the services concentrate on every one of the skills that are basic and brand new that babies commonly develop while they are in the first three years of their lives. These skills include areas such as:

Early intervention services are ones that are designed to meet the needs infants and toddlers with autism, developmental disabilities, or other forms of disabilities have. At times parents are aware from the moment a child is born that early intervention services are something that will be essential to the growth and development of their child. Many times this is so for children who have been diagnosed from the time they were born with a particular condition, or who were born prematurely, have a low birth weight, an illness, or have experienced a surgery soon after they were born. Parents might be given a referral to a local early intervention services office before they even leave the hospital.

Every child is a unique individual, and some children have a fairly routine birth - yet might develop more slowly than other children, or experience set backs, or develop in ways that appear different than other children. A visit with a developmental pediatrician, as well as thorough evaluation, might lead to a referral to early intervention services. No matter how a child gets referred, assessed, and determined to be eligible, early intervention services provide supports that are vital to their needs, enabling them to grow and thrive.

The Process of Evaluation and Assessment

After a parent has contacted early intervention services, the system assigns a person to work with them and their child through the process of evaluation and assessment. The person is their, 'temporary service coordinator,' and has a background in early childhood development, as well as ways to assist young children who might experience developmental delays. The temporary service coordinator is a person who should also be aware of the policies related to early intervention programs and services in a parent's specific state.

Under IDEA, evaluations and assessments don't cost parents any money because the costs are covered by the state and the federal government. Early intervention services will determine of your child is eligible by setting up and carrying out a multidisciplinary evaluation and assessment of your child. The evaluation and assessment will be provided to you and your child in a timely and comprehensive manner. There are essentially two main purposes for the evaluation and assessment; early intervention services needs to find out:

The term, 'multidisciplinary,' when used in relation to early intervention services evaluations means that the evaluation group is comprised of people who are qualified and who have received training in different areas. The evaluation group knows about children and things such as:

The evaluation group knows how to work with children, to include very young children, and how to find out if your child has a problem or is developing within average ranges. The members of the evaluation group might evaluate your child together, or they may choose to do so individually.

The term, 'evaluation,' is used to refer to the procedures professionals follow in order to find out if your child is eligible for early intervention services. While all of this may sound confusing, what it comes down to is a team of professionals will observe your child, ask your child to do certain things, talk with you and your child, and use other methods as they gather information. The procedures the team uses will help them to discover how your child functions in five areas related to development:

After your child has been evaluated, both you and a team of professionals will meet to review the information that has been gathered about your child, as well as the results and reports. The team will tell you whether your child meets the criteria under IDEA and your state's policy for having autism, a developmental delay, a diagnosis of mental or physical condition, or whether your child is at risk for experiencing a substantial delay. If your child meets the criteria, your child is usually found to be eligible for early intervention services.

If your child is eligible for services they will go through an assessment. 'Assessment,' is a term used to refer to the procedures early intervention services uses while your child is receiving services. The purpose of the ongoing procedures are to identify your child's strengths and needs, and to find out what services are needed to meet your child's needs.

When early intervention services does an evaluation and assessment, the team members might get information from different things like:

The numbers of children who experience a form of autism is rising, something that makes early intervention services even more important and valuable to parents. Family members, parents in particular, are crucial participants in the early intervention process. Parents and family members make contributions on individual levels and are intimately involved in determining the services their child will receive. Parents and family members are also extremely important on an organizational level as well; they help to determine the policies and scope of the early intervention services.

If you give your consent, your family's needs will also be identified by early intervention services. The family-directed process is intended to identify the resources, concerns, and priorities of your family. The process also identifies the services and supports you might need to build your family's ability to meet your child's developmental needs. A family assessment is something that is usually done through an interview with the parents.

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