We know that early intervention for autism is key. And it can be so difficult to have concerns, only to be told it will be months before you child can be seen for assessment or therapy. So we’ve created this free resource for parents to offer some support and start on the path.
Early Intervention for Autism
Early intervention for autism has been proven crucial for children who present with delays. According to research, the two areas of difficulty for children with autism that best predict future language success are joint attention, and symbol use (Botemma-Beutel, 2016; Paul & Norbury, 2012). Therefore, it is essential that early intervention programmes address these behaviours.
Joint Attention is a term that describes the ability to coordinate attention between others and objects. When a parent points to an airplane in the sky, children will generally look to the airplane, look back to the parent and smile. This shared experience is an example of joint attention.
Symbol Use describes the ability to understand that an object can represent another object (real or imagined), or abstract idea. For example, a child’s toy block can represent an airplane.
The best way to develop these skills and behaviours in the early years is through play and natural interactions. Therefore, our EI supports are guided by the practices and principles of Naturalistic Developmental Behavioural Interventions (NDBIs). These are a set of interventions that blend the principles of applied behaviour analysis with developmentally appropriate practices. In other words, we use our knowledge of how to break down and most effectively teach skills, to teach developmentally appropriate and important behaviours.
There are many different evidence-based NDBI models, some of which include:
- Incidental Teaching
- Pivotal Response Training (PRT)
- Early Start Denver Model (ESDM)
- Reciprocal Imitation Training (RIT)
- Project ImPACT: Improving Parents as Communication Partners
Our senior therapist has completed advanced training in the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM). However, we use various NDBI assessment and intervention tools depending on the child and intervention needs.
How do our Early Intervention services work?
Before intervention, it is important that we understand what you would hope to achieve, and define what level of support your family requires. We recommend an initial consult involving interview and observation. Following this, our therapist will discuss with you the recommended level and form of support, and agree to next steps.
We provide a range of options and intervention supports.
Assessment and Programme Development
You may choose to proceed with a full assessment of all early intervention domains. In this case, we will conduct further assessment and provide a full report outlining results, goals, and intervention strategies. This report is useful in guiding families to use strategies in everyday routines, but can also be used to help inform home programmes for children receiving the home tuition grant. To learn more about how we can develop and support home programmes, please visit our Home Programmes page.
We know that children make the most rapid and meaningful progress when parents are able to embed strategies throughout the day across different settings and activities. This is why our preferred model of early intervention support is through parent coaching.
We provide individualised coaching to help parents and carers learn ways to teach language, communication, and play behaviours through natural interactions and daily routines. This typically involves a series of 6-8 individual sessions conducted in the home, or remotely via video conferencing methods.
Virtual Coaching Groups
We’re delighted to offer a new EI option for families who may need more flexibility in scheduling. Our virtual coaching groups offer families information on practical, proven strategies through online meetings and access to a private Facebook page. Parents can attend live, or view the same content recorded, but still have access to individual guidance and support.
Learn more about our virtual coaching groups.
Botemma-Beutel, K. (2016). Associations between joint attention and language in autism spectrum disorder and typical development: A systematic review and meta-regression analysis. Autism Research, 10, 1021-1035.
Paul, R., and Norbury, C. (2012) Language disorders from infancy through adolescence: Assessment & intervention, 4th ed., St. Louis: Mosby