“He was my first child. I hadn’t spent much time around babies or toddlers so I didn’t know what was “normal,” but I could feel it in my gut that my child was different. I kept my concerns to myself for as long as I could because I was worried others would see his difference as a bad thing, something to be fixed. As a new mom, I was worried others wouldn’t appreciate or understand how amazing my son was. They didn’t get to spend the time I did with him, so what if they didn’t see the person I saw.”
Many parents can relate to these feelings of worry and fear: Something seems different about the way your baby or toddler responds to people or things in the environment. They don’t seem to act like some of the other children you see out and about, at the playground or a friend’s home. You can’t necessarily pinpoint what it is and you don’t want others to see your child as less than perfect, but it feels like something is different or unique about them. Then, you stumble upon the word autism, maybe from a book, a friend, a doctor or family member, and you realize that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may fit what you see from your child. Finally, whether you hate or are happy to have a name for what might explain your child’s uniqueness, you recognize your child may be on the autism spectrum and you need to identify what your next steps will be.
Every child is unique and has strengths and needs: Those first steps may be difficult but can make a huge difference for your child, especially when you connect with services that will respect, appreciate, and build on your child’s strengths, while identifying and supporting their needs. As noted by Autism Speaks, “Applied Behavior Analysis involves many techniques for understanding and changing behavior. ABA is a flexible treatment” that is adaptable to the unique needs of an individual and can be provided in a variety of settings and situations (Autism Speaks, 2021).
Early intervention is HUGE: Recent guidelines suggest early intervention begin as soon as ASD is diagnosed or seriously suspected. Research clearly documents the benefits of early intervention for children with ASD. As noted by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, “research shows that early diagnosis of and interventions for autism are more likely to have major long-term positive effects on symptoms and later skills.” Early intervention gives a child the greatest opportunity to reach their full potential and with early intervention, some children with autism make so much progress they no longer require services (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2017).
Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI), a comprehensive behavioral treatment based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), is an established practice shown to increase communication, higher cognitive functions, play skills, interpersonal skills, personal responsibility, and motor skills of individuals with ASD, in addition to decreasing problem behaviors and general symptoms associated with ASD (NSP2, 2015).
EIBI involves intensive service delivery, 20 to 40 hours per week for 2 to 3 years, provided by a behavior technician under the supervision of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Researchers have learned that while ABA can be a highly effective intervention for all ages, when adapted and applied to infants and toddlers in the form of EIBI, the impact is even more impressive. Applying ABA techniques when a child is at a very young, impressionable stage of learning, gives EIBI a huge advantage. Please see the ABA page for more detailed information on ABA procedures.
EIBI starts a process that contributes to your child’s growth across their lifespan: A study published by the Princeton Child Development Institute concluded that “60% of the children with autism enrolled in the program before age five had improved enough to be successfully mainstreamed, not just included” (1985). EIBI programs are more effective the earlier they begin.
Not all individuals are an appropriate fit for EIBI. Please contact us for more information to see if your child would benefit from EIBI.