Autism Early Intervention: The Key to Success
Early intervention can lessen the severity of an autism diagnosis and give children the tools they need to succeed.
Many children diagnosed with autism are unable to communicate effectively, may engage in repetitive behaviours and may struggle to learn in a traditional environment. Our goal is to jumpstart their learning through naturalistic teaching: building play skills, social interaction, eye contact and requesting skills. We also work on developing a child’s language and vocabulary through feature, function and class training. For example, the child would learn to identify colours or size of an item (feature), what you do with that item such as bounce (function of an item) and finally the category in which the item belongs such as instruments. We also focus on teaching asking and responding to wh-questions. For example, the child may ask “where are we going today?” or learn to respond to questions like “why do we sleep?”. These are important skills that are needed to maintain a conversation with another.
What is autism?
ASD—Autism Spectrum Disorder—is characterized by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication. Individuals diagnosed with autism engage in repetitive behaviours and often have limited interests. No two individuals with autism are the same, as each person is assessed on a spectrum of severity. For some, autism may impact their life more than others. Depending on the severity of the disorder, if left untreated, children diagnosed with ASD may not learn to speak, build social interaction skills or develop other essential life skills.
How do we intervene?
Our mandate is to prepare children for school by setting pre-academic goals, table skills and on-task behaviours. Our centre uses a Verbal Behaviour Approach: building Mands (requests), Receptive skills (listening skills), Tacts (labelling abilities), Intraverbals (conversational skills), Echoics and Imitation. A big part of what we can help families to do is reduce and manage problematic behaviours.
Individualized programs are developed after an assessment has been completed. Each program is graphed and monitored to track improvements or make revisions to ensure that the child is moving forward and learning. Parent training and coaching, to enhance the efforts made in the program, are made available by setting up home visits, meetings or video observations.
What is Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA)?
ABA is a well-developed scientific discipline that focuses on analyzing, designing, implementing, and evaluating the environment so that change in behaviour is observed.
ABA utilizes assessment procedures to determine underlying causes of behaviour and allows therapists to change the environment so that behaviour can change. Building new skills and decreasing problem behaviours are the primary focus and these assessment procedures are the basis on which a program of intervention is developed.
What is Intensive Behaviour Intervention (IBI)?
IBI is a recognized treatment for ASD, around the world. In Ontario, IBI is funded by the government to support the education of children who are diagnosed with autism. The goal of IBI is to improve the child’s rate of learning and develop language, social, play and self-help skills.
IBI uses the bases of ABA in developing the core treatment plan for the child. The key in selecting a quality program is being aware that the treatment is based on the principles and procedures of ABA, because ABA is the well-developed science that supports the overall program design.
What is Natural Environment Teaching (NET)?
Part of the intervention program that is developed includes aspects of NET—Natural Environment Teaching. Play based teaching is a crucial part of a child’s learning. Before a child can learn to deal with instructions, they will need to learn joint attention, play, following eye-gaze and following cues, during these interactions. These are basic behaviours that are building blocks for future learning.
How does Parent Training/Coaching help?
It is important to have trained therapists working with your child, but we also want parents to feel empowered and to learn how to handle situations at home. Some parents want to get right in there and work with their child, while others don’t have a lot of time but still need to know the basics. We want parents to participate in their child’s program and development, as this too is a very important aspect of success.!
This overview of the approaches and methods isn’t meant to be exhaustive and we welcome any questions that you might have about early intervention and the programs that work for kids with autism. Call us at 289-474-5075 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.