Early Intervention Therapy in Autism provides an enormous advantage for a child.
Did you know that April is Autism Awareness month? At teli we recognize the parents and their children diagnosed with autism. We also acknowledge the outstanding work of the teli therapists helping those children reach new heights!
An early diagnosis can be valuable to insure that a child has every possible advantage to address delays associated with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) 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 of autism, the prevalence of the diagnosis has gone from 1 in 150 children in the year 2000 to 1 in 68 children in 2010.
Nichole Merz, a teli Developmental Therapist has been working with children with autism for more than 10 years both in homes and in a therapeutic preschool setting. “While it may be difficult for parents to recognize a developmental delay, 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,” reflects Nichole. “The primary delays that are associated with autism tend to be in relation to social and communication skills. Typically, a screen for autism is completed by pediatricians at the 2 year ‘well child’ visit and based on those results appropriate referrals will be recommended.”
In Nichole’s work at teli, she has supported many families on their journey to confirm an autism diagnosis and identify further resources. “Families may come to us with concerns about their child’s communication or behavior. We encourage them 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.”
Here are some of the typical behaviors of children with autism that parents have shared with Nichole:
- 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
“A child that can’t ask for what they need may gain some help through the use of photos or pointing to begin to identify needs. A visual calendar or schedule are also beneficial to help the child identify what is coming next in their day” notes Nichole. “For children having trouble with following directions or processing a request, the introduction of pairing a gesture with verbal cues can help.”
When working with children when a social interaction with others is difficult, Nichole has some valuable suggestions for families “We support the child by modeling play and encouraging imitation. Social stories 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.”
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, the work of the therapists at teli can provide parents with a number of skills to help their child. “We work very closely with parents to transfer the skills we are using with their child. I think the most important thing we can do is teach parents how help their child.”
Read more about Nichole and her work with children with autism.