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Importance of Early Intervention in Autism Therapy

What is Early Intervention?

In Canada, Autism Spectrum Disorder affects 1 in 68 children and as of 2014, 1% of the world has been diagnosed with ASD (Autism Society). Known as a disorder with no cure, it is increasingly prevalent in our communities.

YOU MIGHT WANT TO READ: What is ABA & IBI?  What are the differences?

However, Early Intervention methods have brought light to the Autism community. It refers to a system of services and supports for young children under 5 years of age with developmental delays or disabilities and their families. 

Studies show that Early Intervention practices (ex. Intensive Behavioural Intervention) implemented both at home and in-treatment centre, can have a lasting positive impact on a child’s development. In some cases, the diagnosis was lost.

Benefits of Early Intervention

In the span of 1 to 2 years, studies show improvements in the following areas:

  • Significant acceleration of developmental rates (IQ)
  • Significant language improvements
  • Improved social behaviour and decreased symptoms of autism

Does it really work?

Some research clinics report that through Early Intervention, as many as 25% of children will lose the diagnosis completely (International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology).

While some studies suggest that up to 25% of children will lose their diagnosis, this does not mean that every child will benefit from Early Intervention in the same way. Results vary depending on the severity of the disorder, parental involvement, methods of implementation, and the age of the child.

Professor Louise Kaczmarek from the University of Pittsburgh School of Education writes that Early Intervention strategies seem to be the most successful when implemented through a hybrid approach. In other words, when integrating development and/or relationship-based techniques with those of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA).

Parental Involvement is Key

Early Intervention should implement your children’s natural routines and activities during the day. While treatment centres do an incredible job at providing ABA or IBI therapy (and should be implemented as well), early intervention is a continuous process that requires parental involvement and cannot be implemented with just occasional or weekly hourly sessions. In this case, parents are the primary providers because “not only do they spend the most time with their children, but they can also gain important parenting and relationship-establishing skills to improve the quality of life in the home.” (Kaczmarek, Louise)

YOU MIGHT WANT TO READ: Signs and Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children and Adults

While official diagnosis often does not happen until the child is about 4 to 5 years of age, Autism can be seen as early as 12 months of age. Parents should also keep an eye on more high-risk children, such as children with siblings diagnosed with autism. If parents are finding themselves overwhelmed, it might be a good idea to look for parent-support groups or parent training sessions in your area.

Terrace Wellness offers services in ABA, IBI, parent training, respite services, and more. If you’re experiencing doubts regarding you child’s options to treatment, please do not hesitate to contact our team leader at ahayes@blog.terracewellness.com to book a consultation. You might also want to subscribe to our mailing list to stay in the loop of any upcoming events and services.


  • Koegel, L., Koegel, R. L.  et al. (n.d.). The importance of early identification and intervention for children with or at risk for autism spectrum disorders. Retrieved March 1, 2018, from http://bit.ly/1hKhHRm
  • Brief Report: Early Intervention in Autism Sally J. Rogers 1 University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Vol. 26, No. 2, 1996
  • Hobbs, K. G. (2017, October 30). Autism and the Benefits of Early Intervention. Retrieved March 01, 2018, from https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/autism-early-intervention-benefits/
  • Autism Speaks. (2012, July 24). Retrieved March 02, 2018, from https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/prevalence
  • Facts and Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved March 01, 2018, from http://www.autism-society.org/what-is/facts-and-statistics/
  • Kaczmarek, L., The Benefits of Early Intervention for Children with Autism. (n.d.). Retrieved March 01, 2018, from https://www.education.pitt.edu/newsletter/PittEd/article.aspx?id=25#.WplqJpPwbLY

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