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What is Early Intervention?

What is Early Intervention?

If your toddler or preschooler was recently diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), you may have a lot of questions. Some of your questions may be about the term “early intervention.” Maybe a child psychologist or your pediatrician recommended that you seek “early intervention” care, or you have read about it online but are not sure what it is or how it can help. You aren’t alone. If you have questions about early intervention, please read on.

At Opya, we help hundreds of children with ASD each day using early intervention care, which are therapies that start as soon as your toddler or preschooler is diagnosed with ASD. In this article, we explain what early intervention care means, share the research behind it, and explain the tremendous benefits early intervention therapies can provide for your child.

Early intervention means starting care at an early age

As the phrase suggests, early intervention care means starting treatment and therapy for developmentally challenged children as early as eighteen months old to help them overcome these challenges and work toward meeting important developmental milestones. Treatments typically last for two to three years and should be tailored to meet a child’s specific needs and goals.

Starting early can make a huge difference

Most professionals agree that early intervention child care for autism is essential because of the concept of “neuroplasticity,” which is the ability of a person’s brain to form new connections that help it develop as the person learns based on experiences. Our brains develop the most in the earliest years of life, and it is no different for children with developmental challenges. So, the earlier we can identify and start care for developmentally challenged children, the better chance they have to learn, grow, and succeed.

Early childhood therapy can dramatically improve a child’s overall development. Children who receive autism-specific care at early and key developmental stages are much more likely to learn essential social skills and achieve better outcomes.

When therapy starts at an early age, the child’s family benefits too. The education and training that we provide to our families give them the skills they need to help their children when the therapist is not with them, so they can improve in all aspects of their lives, including behaviorally, mentally, and emotionally.

Consistent care and frequent reinforcement are key

Another term that is commonly used is “Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention” (EIBI), which is based on the proven concept that care should be provided early and often to best support skill development, reinforce positive behaviors, and minimize negative behaviors. Frequent reinforcement helps young brains learn more quickly and the learning last longer. The therapy is broken up into small steps that are more manageable for the child so that the child is not overwhelmed and can master one set of skills at a time. In addition, EIBI also helps children focus their attention, improve their ability to understand conversations, talk more, and work on their daily living skills.

There are two main characteristics of early intervention programs designed for children with ASD: the intensity of the program and the age at which children begin the program. Most early intervention programs involve about 30 hours of therapy per week to provide the greatest impact of the therapy and optimize outcomes for each child.

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