Early Diagnosis and Early Intervention is Crucial!
In his Proclamation, Governor Northam stated that “it is important that Virginia’s citizens know about the early intervention services available for infants and toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities so families may utilize every opportunity to provide for the health and well-being of their children.” Children under the age of two who are suspected of having a developmental delay or developmental disability to include autism may qualify for publicly funded Early Intervention services such as Speech and Occupational Therapy under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) which are facilitated by PEIDS and the Infant Toddler Connection. Children of any age may also qualify for private intensive therapy covered by private insurance and/or Medicaid.
- Speech Therapy assists children in the areas of speech, language, thinking, and swallowing. A Speech Therapist can provide nonvocal children with an alternative form of communication; assist a child in expanding their length of communication; improve articulation; assist with receptive language deficits; as well as assist with feeding issues.
- Occupational Therapy assists children in succeeding in their daily activities such as: playing, learning, and socializing. An Occupational Therapist can assist children with sensory processing issues, problem solving, and provide environmental modification solutions.
- Applied Behavior Analysis assists children with skill acquisitions in areas including but not limited to: communication (receptive and expressive), social skills, play skills, toileting, food acceptance, etc. Applied Behavior Analysis assist children with decreasing dangerous/undesirable behaviors to include but not limited to: aggression, tantrum, self-injury, property destruction, elopement, non-compliance, etc.
- “Investigators have suggested that, to achieve the best possible outcomes, children with autism should begin intensive behavioral treatment as early as possible, preferably before the age of 4 years” (Green, 1996).
- “Intervention for childhood autism based on applied behavior analysis and delivered intensively at home during the preschool period can bring about significant changes in children’s functioning” (Remington et al., 2007).
- Thomas Frazier, Chief Science Officer for the autism advocacy group Autism Speaks, states: “there is compelling data from many studies that early intensive behavioral intervention is effective. Many children who receive early intensive behavioral intervention show substantial improvements in cognitive function, language, and daily living skills.”