Early Intervention

The Autism Society recognizes the importance of intensive early intervention for young children across the autism spectrum. Because of each child’s different needs and abilities, we support an individualized approach that addresses the core challenges of autism spectrum disorders (e.g., communication, social, sensory, academic difficulties) and matches the 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 areas of difficulty, focuses on long-term outcomes, and considers the developmental level of the child.  Areas include: Attention to relevant aspects of the environment, shifting attention, and imitating the language and actions of others; Social interactions, including appropriate play with toys and others, and symbolic and imaginative play; Language comprehension and use, and functional communication.
  • Programs that capitalize on children’s 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 instruction that uses technology associated with Applied Behavior Analysis, including chaining, shaping, discrete trial format and others.
  • Coordinated transitions between service providers, 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 with 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 disorder. We also encourage the use of these practices for each child with autism spectrum disorder, regardless of geographic location.

For guidance in connecting with an Early Intervention provider in your area, please contact us.

– Prepared by the Autism Society of America Panel of Professional Advisers. Approved by Autism Society Board of Directors, April 2000