Early Intervention

The Autism Society recognizes the importance of intensive early intervention for young children across the autism spectrum, including those labeled with autism, Asperger’s syndrome, and other pervasive developmental disorders. While these children share a common diagnostic label, each has unique needs. Because of the differences among these children, the Autism Society supports an individualized approach that addresses the core deficits of autism spectrum disorders (e.g., communication, social, sensory, academic difficulties) and that matches each family’s preferences and needs. In designing effective programs, the Autism Society encourages professionals and family members to consider the following components:

  • A curriculum that addresses deficit areas, focuses on long-term outcomes, and considers the developmental level of the child. Deficit areas include:
      - Ability to attend to relevant aspects of the environment, shift attention, and imitate the language and actions of others;

- Social interactions, including appropriate play with toys and others, and symbolic and imaginative play; and

- Language comprehension and use, and functional communication.

  • Programs that capitalize on children’s natural tendency to respond to visual structure, routines, schedules and predictability.
  • A focus on generalization and maintenance of skills, using technology such as incidental teaching approaches.
  • Effective and systematic instructional approaches that utilize technology associated with Applied Behavior Analysis, including chaining, shaping, discrete trial format and others.
  • Coordinated transitions between service delivery agencies, including 0-2 programs, early intervention/preschool programs, and kindergarten environments.
  • Use of technology associated with functional behavioral assessment and positive behavioral supports with a child who presents behavioral challenges.
  • Family involvement, including coordination between home and involved professionals, an in-home training component, and family training and support.

The Autism Society encourages applied research to identify the interventions and approaches that are most effective for all children with autism spectrum disorders, and to encourage common usage of these practices for each child with an autism spectrum disorder, regardless of geographic location.

- Prepared by the Autism Society Panel of Professional Advisors. Approved by Autism Society Board of Directors, April 2000