Autism and the Benefits of Early Intervention

September 17, 2018

The number of people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) continues to rise at a steady pace. Recent studies estimate that 1% to 2% of individuals worldwide have been diagnosed with autism, and in the United States alone, one out of every 59 children is on the spectrum.1 Despite these growing numbers, there is good news. Research shows that early behavioral intervention therapies can improve cognitive and language skills and create positive changes in social responsiveness.2 However, neuroplasticity decreases as children get older, making them less receptive to such therapy and therefore increasing the importance of early intervention.

Early Intervention is the Most Effective Way to Address Autism

As rates of ASD increase, medical professionals recognize the impact of early intervention, such as the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM), a comprehensive behavioral approach for autistic children age 12 to 48 months.3 Currently, many insurers are reluctant to pay for the care, though this is expected to change as new research suggests the costs associated with the intensive treatment show children needing fewer services over time - decreasing total spend in the long run.4 In a recent ESDM study, after two years of intensive intervention children showed a greater increase in IQ, adaptive functioning, communication, and other measures when compared to the control group.5

A Wide Range of Therapies Can Help Children with ASD

Treatment plans for children on the autism spectrum often include a wide range of techniques and approaches:

  • Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA)— Applied Behavioral Analysis is a critical component of ESDM. ABA therapy focuses on helping children understand how their actions and skills affect their environment, be it physical or social.6 Products that may help teach early language skills include the Autism and PDD Early Intervention book series, featuring characters that teach critical early language skills, joint attention, and social reciprocity through engaging stories and hands-on activities.
  • Speech and Language Therapy— Some individuals on the autism spectrum do not speak, while others love to talk but find conversation and certain linguistic nuances challenging. It can also be difficult for many with ASD to pick up on nonverbal cues when communicating with others. If begun at an early age, speech and language therapy can help address these challenges. Fewer than 10% of nonverbal children remain nonverbal when following an early intervention program.7 Early Social Behavior Books, Elementary Language Processing Tests, and Functional Language Programs for Children are just a few pediatric speech therapy tools that can be used in therapy.
  • Occupational Therapy— Children with autism often have difficulty with both fine and gross motor skills. Catching, running, skipping, and climbing can improve gross motor skills while playing with a variety of textures such as rice, beans, sand, cooked noodles, and specialty products like Color Coded Therapy Putty help in the development of fine motor skills.8
  • Sensory Processing— Children with autism typically exhibit delays and deficits in sensory processing and modulation.9 Input processing can be improved through heavy work-playing games and deep pressure therapy, while vestibular stimulation can be promoted by playing on swings, such as the Skillbuilders™ Swing Seat, using a variety of motions.
  • Physical Therapy— Children with autism, children with autism often need help developing their motor skills or have low muscle tone.  A carefully designed program of physical therapy can help improve balance and coordination skills, build muscle for support and endurance, and improve functional mobility and motor skills.11

AliMed Has Products to Help with Early Intervention Therapy

As diagnoses of Autism Spectrum Disorder increase, caregivers, pediatricians, speech therapists, occupational therapists, and physical therapists must have the tools to treat children on the spectrum through early intervention. Learn more about AliMed’s selection of autism products by visiting today.



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