Why Early Intervention Is So Important
Whether your child has autism or not, it is important to understand the red flags (this link goes to Autism Speaks, which is a great site to check out.)
Why should all parents understand the red flags of autism? Autism is generally not diagnosed until 18 months and sometimes (a lot of times) it's not diagnosed until age 3. I believe that Early Intervention is huge! And the earlier you start, the better it is for your child. Here's my plug for the P.L.A.Y. Project. Because the P.L.A.Y. Project is based on functional developmental levels, and the intervention is all about play and relationships, it can be used with any child whether they have autism or not. So if you're concerned at an early age, even if your child has no diagnosis, you can get started with some intervention.
So why is Early Intervention so important? Think of all the things that a child learns between the ages of 0-6. The brain is has the highest rate of growth in those first 6 years of life. We want to take advantage of that. Kids will have a natural progression, but if we are able to add to it with methods and techniques that will help them grow in the right direction, then let's do it!
I'll be honest, before I started working in Early Intervention and Preschool, I had no idea that it was important. I was used to working with adults, I had never looked into Early Intervention before. I think a lot of people are in the same boat, if they've never had a need, then they never had a reason to look into it. As the legislature seems to be cutting more funds from Early Intervention programs, I realize that they don't understand it either. The more we put into the early education of our kids with special needs, the less they will need as they get older. It doesn't mean that they won't need anything as they get older, but they will need less because they will gain valuable skills at a younger age that they can take with them.
By law, if your child qualifies for special education services, you will receive it for free within your school district if you are living in the United States. If you are having concerns about your child development, google your school district's Early Intervention program and make an appointment. Sometimes there's a wait to get in for an appointment, so the earlier you do it, the better.
Schools are great, and I loved teaching in the school setting. There are always going to be limits, no matter how much you wish there weren't. Schools need to show that they are giving a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), they do not need to show that they are performing miracles. There will be times when you may want more intervention or therapies for your child, and that's great. That's when programs like mine come into play.
There are a lot of therapies out there for children with autism, and it can be overwhelming and confusing. I have had the opportunity to become familiar with a variety of interventions, and I honestly feel that with kids on the spectrum being so different from one another, you have to find out what will work for you. I personally chose The P.L.A.Y. Project (Play and Language for Autistic Youngsters) because I like the idea of the parents being the therapists. I like that it focuses on relationships, which is one of the core deficits of autism. I like that it focuses mostly on family relationships. I also feel that some of the other interventions also have their strengths, and I'm all for that.
Two of the main interventions for autism are Behavioral and Developmental. Check out my post Autism Therapies Comparison if you missed it.
Utah PLAY Project Home Consultant
Early Intervention Services for Children with Autism
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