Yet, people are still surprised when they hear that Therapy can start as early as 18 months. We often hear questions like “why so early!?” “Shouldn’t kids be playing and learning through play at that early age?” “Can children handle early intervention therapy?” and finally, “What do you do in therapy anyway?”
The answers to these questions can help parents understand why early intervention is important for a child. Therefore, here we will separate the questions listed above and provide answers to each.
An accurate diagnosis of Neurodiversity can be detected in a child as early as 18 months. From the perspective of Neuroscience, there has been adequate evidence on Neuroplasticity – if we intervene early, we have a better chance of changing the developing brain.
From the point of behavior, early intervention stops problematic behavior from becoming a habit as age increases. Also, it’s ideal for children to receive early individualized therapy (like Pediatric ABA Therapy) to remediate any delays. This will definitely prepare a child to enter group learning when they reach school age mentally and physically.
Play is an essential development task for children, indeed! In fact, it’s the kids’ job to Play! However, the issue was a core symptom of Neurodiversity is the lack of appropriate skills accompanied by a pattern of repetitive activities.
Typical developing children often Pick various skills as they observe and imitate others. Neurodivergent children, however, tend to be engrossed in objects and activities that interest them.
They are less likely to engage in various social interactions and imitate others on the spur of the moment. This is not to argue that autistic youngsters cannot pick up acceptable play skills.
While we look at the research, Dr Ivar Lovaas showed that approximately 50% of the children who received intensive ABA Therapy catch up to the average range in their intellectual and educational functioning. In the first 2 years, the children received an average of 40 hours of Therapy.
Later, somewhat reduced hours in the next 2 years of Therapy. Further studies replicated Lovaas’ in the US, UK and Norway. The consensus is that larger gains in cognitive functioning is associated with higher intensity therapy (up to 40 hours/ week).
Children with Neurodiversity learn best through even with small steps and with repeated, consistent practice. For instance, in Pediatric ABA Therapy, putting on shirts is often taught with nearly 4 or more steps, and each step is practiced sufficiently. On the other hand, more complex skills, such as having a back-and-forth conversation, requires more building blocks and learning.
Early signs of behavioral issues majorly fall into one of three categories. These are Social, Communication and Behavioral. However, remember that these differences can vary widely, depending on the child and the severity of the child.
The first and foremost benefit is called Neuroplasticity. The term refers to the brain’s ability to adapt and change based on experiences. Regarding ASD, early intervention can create a better chance of changing or enhancing an individual’s brain development. In some cases, this can prevent challenging behaviors from becoming regular habits. Also, there’s a better chance that children with ASD will be better prepared to start onboard school.
Learn Playing Skills
Children generally learn to play by observing others. However, children with neurodiversity and dereistic thinking, need to be taught how to learn from others. Often, neurodiverse children don’t prefer to interact and imitate in the same way others do. Also, they are too engrossed in activities of interest, to notice others playing.
Children with Developmental Disability can be taught play and social skills by breaking down the elements and repeating them until each step is mastered. Depending on the complexity of the skill, this can take a long time of therapy.
Help a Child Up to their Peers
A study by Dr. Ivar Lovaas showed that around 50% of children who engaged in early intensive behavioral intervention and ABA Therapy were able to catch up to average ranges in both intellectual and educational function. The children in the Lovaas study received 40 hours of therapy in the first two years, followed by a decrease in hours over the next two years.
More studies show that early intervention is more beneficial for children. Besides, children who receive intense therapy may move higher on the ASD scale (the big improvement).
Improves Patient Child Relationships
As a parent, learning about your child’s world can help you to find a degree of empathy and connection you may not achieve otherwise. According to parents, there’s something magical about relating at that level. Additionally, controlling behaviors that can annoy other family members can be a benefit to parents, improving the bond.
Improves Coping Skills
Children with neurodiversity may not always be able to verbalize their challenges, but that doesn’t mean they don’t. They do, and the upheaval is frequently severe. They also tend to focus on particular pursuits, interests, or behavioral habits, making them angry when things don’t go their way. Early intervention can teach kids how to deal with their anxieties and annoyances, and healthily.
At Empower Life Skill Clinic, we strive to teach the desired developmental and social skills interestingly and engagingly. When we start Child ABA Therapy, we prioritize associating the therapy and therapist with a positive experience for the child. In therapy, learning targets are tailored to the child’s level.
When dealing with behavioral challenges like Neurodiversity, ABA Therapy looks at the relationship between factors in your environment. During the Therapy sessions, we uncover the reasons behind challenging behavior and what the child is getting out of this behavior. Then, we can develop and implement a consistent behavior plan with the justification for Early Intervention. The child’s behavior will improve, and inappropriate behavior will be reduced thanks to this method.
Empower Therapy is a full service multi-disciplinary therapy practice located in Austin, Texas that serves the developmental needs of children from birth to 18 years of age. Learn more about our services by contacting our clinicians to improve the lives of children and their families.