Importance of Early Autism Intervention [Infographic]

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Importance of Early Intervention for Children with Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorder

It is widely known that our formative years are some of our most important ones developmentally. A child’s early years are when he or she learns basic cognitive functions as well as speech, physical hand-eye coordination and comprehension.

Did you know that today 1 in 88 children are identified with an autism spectrum disorder? Known simply as ASD, this group of developmental frailties can cause major behavioral, social and communication challenges. Since Autism occurs on a spectrum of symptoms, each person with the disorder will be impacted differently. This is why it is vital to practice early intervention for children with autism.

Early intervention isn’t a one size fits all cure, but studies show that a combination of applied behavioral analysis, which is the use of psychology training techniques to teach behaviors and skills, as well as ongoing, parent-mediated interventions can help to reduce some of the most debilitating autism symptoms. Skills including walking and social interaction are learned from birth to the age of three, so these early forms of treatment can truly alleviate years of pain and suffering down the road. Impressively, data has shown that high-quality early interventions, make enough impact that many children with ASD no longer meet the diagnostic criteria for autism.

Importance of Early Autism Intervention [Infographic]

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The Importance of Early Intervention for Children with Autism


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges

Because ASD occur on a spectrum, ASD impact each person differently and can range from mild to severe

Level 1

Requiring Support


  • Difficulty initiating social interactions
  • Atypical or unsuccessful response to social overtures of others
  • May appear to have deceased interest in social interactions


  • Inflexibility of behavior
  • Difficulty switching activities
  • Problems of organization and planning hamper independence

Level 2

Requiring Substantial Support


  • Marked deficits in verbal and nonverbal social communication skills
  • Social impairments even with support
  • Limited initiation of social interactions
  • Reduced/abnormal responses to social overtures from others
  • Has noticeable odd non-verbal communication


  • Inflexibility of behavior
  • Limited to special interests
  • Distress/difficulty changing focus

Level 3

Requiring Very Substantial Support


  • Severe deficits in verbal and nonverbal social communication skills
  • Very limited initiation of social interactions
  • Minimal response to social overtures from others
  • Makes unusual approaches to meet needs, and responds only to very direct social approaches


  • Inflexibility of behavior, extreme difficulty coping with change
  • Repetitive behaviors markedly interfere with functioning in all spheres
  • Great distress/difficulty changing focus or attention


1 in 88 children has been identified with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (According to the CDC)

1 in 6 children in the U.S. had a disability ranging from speech and language impairments to serious developmental disabilities, such as intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and autism (During 2006-2008)

5x more common among boys

1 in 54

1 in 252 than among girls

18% of children who are diagnosed with Autism were diagnoses before the age of three

ASD commonly occurs with other developmental, psychiatric, neurologic, chromosomal, and genetic diagnoses

10% Co-occurence of one or more psychiatric diagnoses with ASD

83% Co-occurence of one or more non-ASD developmental diagnoses with ASD

ASDs occur in all racial, ethnic, and socio-economic groups


Early Development

  • Important skills like walking, communication, and social interaction are learned from birth to three years old
  • Delays can have significant impact on development and can cause years of further unnecessary training

Early Intervention is Proven Effective

  • of the children who weren’t speaking in two-word phrases at age 4
  • 70% reached the milestone by age 8 as a result of early intervention
  • High-quality early interventions make enough impact that some children with ASDs no longer meet the diagnostic criteria for autism

Reduces Cost in the Long-Term

  • $3,569/mo.* Child on high-quality ESDM program
  • $5,033/mo. Child not on ESDM program

*Computed based on four years following a two-year intensive high-quality behavioral intervention program

— In the U.S. approximately $137 billion is spent each year related to ASD



Individuals with Disabilities Act

Children under the age of three who are at risk of having developmental delays may be eligible for state-provided services and evaluation

Early Start Denver Model (ESDM)

ESDM uses techniques from applied behavioral analysis (ABA) for early intervention with toddlers

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA)

ABA uses behavioral psychology and training techniques to teach skills or behaviors

  • It can be personalized
  • It can be measured

Data can be collected and changes in behavior can be analyzed to demonstrate whether the ABA program has been effective

Parent-Mediated Interventions

A review of multiple studies on parent-mediated interventions found that the evidence for positive change in patterns of parent-child interaction was strong

Quality is Important

A recent Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders study found that the quality of teaching program was more important than the specific program used


Because ASDs vary between the children, it is important to choose a program that works best. Even in a high-quality program, not every child will experience the same benefits or any benefit.





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