The Early Learning Institute (TELI) | April 16th, 2019 |

How Can Early Intervention Help a Child with an Autism Diagnosis?

By: Nichole Merz, teli Developmental Specialist

Early Intervention provides an enormous advantage for a child with autism. An early diagnosis can be valuable to ensure that a child has every possible opportunity to address delays associated with an autism spectrum diagnosis.  Most recently, screening for autism as early as 2 years of age has been recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.  With greater awareness and understanding of the signs and symptoms, the prevalence of the diagnosis has gone from 1 in 150 children in the year 2000 to 1 in 59 children in 2018.

autismWorking with children with autism for more than 10 years both in homes and in a therapeutic preschool setting, we have found that it may be difficult for parents to recognize a developmental delay. However, the ability to identify the signs of autism early and take action is such an important step on the way to the child’s future development. The primary delays that are associated with autism tend to be in relation to social and communication skills. Typically, a screening for autism is completed by pediatricians at the 2 year well child visit and based on those results appropriate referrals will be recommended.

At teli, therapists support families on their journey to confirm a diagnosis of autism by listening to the parents and the concerns they raise about their child’s communication or behavior.  We encourage families to consult with their pediatrician or a psychologist for further evaluation.  Based on the results of that evaluation we will work as a team to support the family and the child.

Some typical “red flag” behaviors of children with autism that parents may identify include:

  • My child does not talk and seems to have trouble understanding me
  • My child can’t describe what they want or need and gets very frustrated in the process
  • My child has trouble understanding directions
  • My child doesn’t engage with other children to play
  • My child doesn’t make appropriate eye contact with others
  • My child is not responding to their name

The range of therapies available to support families affected by autism has grown over the years as awareness has grown. While the diagnosis is never easy to process as a parent, the therapists at teli work very closely parents so they can learn the skills to help their child. The most important thing is to teach parents how help their child be successful.

Based on the individual child’s need, teli Developmental Specialists, Speech Therapists, Occupational Therapists and Physical Therapists have extensive experience in coaching families with suggestions such as the following:

  • A child that that can’t ask for what they need may be successful through the use of photos or pointing to begin to identify needs. A visual schedule is also beneficial to help the child identify what is coming next in their day.
  • For children having trouble with following directions or processing a request, the introduction of pairing a gesture with verbal cues can help.
  • For children having difficulty with social interaction with others, modeling play with your child and encouraging imitation can be helpful.  Social stories that depict interaction between two people are also very helpful to explain social interactions to a child. These stories provide visual guidelines to describe situations and behaviors to help the child understand how to manage a social concept or interaction.

Learn more about Early Intervention at teli, please call us at 412-922-8322… we can help!

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