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  • Writer's pictureRachel Brehm

Early Intervention Works

A recent article published by UC Davis Health confirms a theory that so many medical professionals, special needs advocates, and pediatric healthcare specialists firmly stand behind: early intervention works. At Orange County Speech Services, we see the value and impact of early intervention nearly every day as we work side by side with our clients. With hard work and early intervention, we see physical goals being achieved as our physical therapists work with children. With practice, and early intervention, our occupational therapists see difficult fine motor skills become more fluid and natural, food aversions become more tolerable and enjoyable, and sensory issues become more manageable and less noticeable. With repetition and early intervention, our speech therapists see confidence grow, speech issues improve, reading difficulties dissipate, and language skills grow and flourish. With practice, play, and structure, we see the benefits of early intervention as children become more comfortable with their peers. More proficient in age appropriate social skills. More successful in their daily lives.

Because of early intervention, we see change. 

The work is not always simple, and there are many setbacks and obstacles along the way, but the path is clear. Working diligently, and promptly following a diagnosis, has so many obvious advantages.

In their recent findings, UC Davis Health explains breakthrough research regarding children with autism and the immense improvement gained through early intervention. UC Davis Professor Sally Rogers, a professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the MIND Institute, found that children with autism (as young as 18 months) can vastly improve their language, cognition and social skills with an early intervention. 

In 1981, Roger created a development approach to autism (the Early Start Denver Model) improving long-term outcomes for very young children. The ESDM has since become a method used throughout the US and across the world.

The new study, which replicated an ESDM study in 2010, found that children receiving intensive ESDM in their homes for an average of 15 hours per week made significantly greater language gains than did children in the community interventions, and this was true for both children with more severe delays and those with less. Rogers emphasized that replication studies are rare and costly but critical to validate novel scientific findings.

“The idea that little children with autism who are getting good treatment can make this much IQ and language gain means we should expect this from quality early-intervention experiences,” Rogers said. “These findings should raise families’ hopes a whole lot.”

A bit different from the traditional behavioral methods used with children with autism, the ESDM combines developmental and behavioral approaches used in everyday routines. It utilizes moment-to-moment interactions that children have with their peers and parents - narrowing in on the child’s unique interests and favorite activities to make sure the social interactions are interesting and fun.

The idea is that the learning opportunities are already there. They exist in classrooms, on playgrounds, and in every day social interactions.

What this means is that the developmental path and learning capacity of young children with autism is more plastic than we realized, and the hard work and time devoted to early intervention is important. 

So, parents, teachers, early childhood specialists, and healthcare professionals - please remember: huge gains in language, IQ, cognition, and social skills can be made. A child does not need to remain stuck or confined by the delays and obstacles created by Autism. 

Act early, and act fast. 

Early intervention works, and the therapists at Orange County Speech Services are here to help. (714) 916-0641

Orange County Speech Services is in the final stages of becoming a vendor for Regional Center of Orange County's Infant Development Program. We are excited to work with RCOC to provide families with the necessary support and resources needed in the early stages of development. Stay tuned!

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