Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by difficulties in social communication with restricted and repetitive behaviors. The CDC estimates the prevalence rate of ASD to be 1 in 44 children with boys 4 more times likely to be diagnosed than girls. The main concern for parents for children with ASD is their child’s speech and language development (Richards et al., 2016). Speech and language play an essential role in social skills and emotional regulation. For more information on autism visit: https://tacanow.org/about-autism/
So how can parents have confidence that their child with ASD is going to have a great life? Through early intervention.
Early intervention is a commonly used strategy to help individuals with ASD learn lifelong skills. Early intervention takes an individualized approach, tailored to the child’s needs, strengths and interests. Early intervention is targeted towards hitting developmental milestones for the child which they currently have not met. By using evidence-based practices, early interventions can address the specific need for the child depending on where they are in their development.
Think of early intervention as a bike tire pump. When a tire is flat, it’s hard to ride the bike. The ride can be bumpy and dangerous, which is like the first stages of a child being diagnosed with ASD. But as soon as you start to pump the tire up, the ride becomes much smoother and more enjoyable, which is like receiving the right early intervention. Early intervention aims to support and pump up your child’s skills so they can have a smooth and enjoyable life. https://www.autismspeaks.org/autism-statistics-asd provides more information on interventions and supports.
Early intervention utilizes evidence-based practices to ensure the strategies used have substantial research and evidence behind them. This way parents can have confidence that they are not wasting their money on strategies that have little proof of being effective. There are a lot of strategies that claim to be effective all over the internet. The problem for parents is trying to find what works for their child and have confidence that what they are paying for actually works. Early detection and intervention can help parents determine the best therapies for their children. For more information visit: https://tacanow.org/family-resources/therapeutic-interventions/
With all these claims on the internet, parents can be overwhelmed with making a decision that’s best for their child. Astrid360 wants to help parents make this decision much more streamlined and easier so that parents aren’t wasting their precision time on finding, researching and trying interventions that may not work for their child. Using professional guidance, Astrid360 can help parents identify their childs greatest areas of need and provide education on testing and interventions to discuss with their care team. Every individual’s circumstances are different and therefore require different solutions.
Astrid360 recommendations are tailored to the individuals specific needs, ensuring parents aren’t wasting time and money.
The significance and importance of early interventions means children with autism can hit development milestones that by themselves, they would struggle to achieve. A critical development milestone is the acquisition of language. This typically starts to happen between 1-2 years old. Language milestones have served as predictors for future expressive language and adaptive skills (Kover et al., 2016). By engaging in early intervention, children can hit this milestone quicker and therefore have better outcomes on expressive language and adaptive skills. This reduces the cost of lifelong care as future interventions, such as speech pathology, may not be required if the individual can communicate using expressive language.
Lifelong longitudinal studies on the use of early intervention have demonstrated its effectives for improving outcomes in children with ASD. The study by Frazier et al. (2021b) investigated the use of early intervention for language in children with ASD. Language measures were taken for participants from 6-36 months. Children who engaged in early intervention showed substantial increases in language when compared to what was normally expected. Earlier age at early intervention start was a predictor of better language trajectories. Frazier et al. (2021b) study provides fantastic insight into the importance of early interventions and lifelong outcomes.
Outcomes of early interventions include:
- Decreased lifelong cost of care
- Increasing lifelong skills
- Achieving developmental milestones
- Decrease in ASD symptom severity
By decreasing the cost of lifelong care, parents can save money and know that their child will have improved lifelong outcomes compared to what is normally expected. Early intervention that is tailored to a child’s greatest area of need is key for successful outcomes for children with ASD.
Lifetime social costs have been estimated to cost $3.6 million for individuals with ASD (Cakir et al., 2020). With the prevalence rates of ASD on the rise, this cost is expected to increase well into the future.
If parents can utilize effective early intervention when their child is younger, this will substantially decrease the cost of lifelong care. Through early intervention for children with ASD, parents could save up to $1.2 million in lifelong costs (Frazier et al., 2021a). This saving not only helps parents but means that their child with ASD will have a better overall quality of life.
Overall, early intervention has shown to reduce ASD symptom severity and maintain gains, made through early intervention, well into the future (Estes et al., 2015). This reduction in ASD symptom severity can translate to dollars saved for parents. Parents can have confidence that by using an evidenced-based early intervention, that their child will have the support tailored to their needs, have more successful treatment outcomes and reduce ASD symptom severity.
For more information on early interventions check out: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/treatment.html
Cakir, J., Frye, R. E., & Walker, S. J. (2020). The lifetime social cost of autism: 1990-2029. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 72. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rasd.2019.101502
Estes, A., Munson, J., Rogers, S. J., Greenson, J., Winter, J., & Dawson, G. (2015). Long-term outcomes of early intervention in 6-year-old children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 54(7), 580–7. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaac.2015.04.005
Frazier, T. W., Coury, D. L., Sohl, K., Wagner, K. E., Uhlig, R., Hicks, S. D., & Middleton, F. A. (2021a). Evidence-based use of scalable biomarkers to increase diagnostic efficiency and decrease the lifetime costs of autism. Autism Research : Official Journal of the International Society for Autism Research, 14(6), 1271–1283. https://doi.org/10.1002/aur.2498
Frazier, T. W., Klingemier, E. W., Anderson, C. J., Gengoux, G. W., Youngstrom, E. A., & Hardan, A. Y. (2021b). A longitudinal study of language trajectories and treatment outcomes of early intensive behavioral intervention for autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 51(12), 4534–4550. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-021-04900-5
Kover, S. T., Edmunds, S. R., & Ellis Weismer, S. (2016). Brief report: ages of language milestones as predictors of developmental trajectories in young children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 46(7), 2501–2507. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-016-2756-y
Richards, M., Mossey, J., & Robins, D. L. (2016). Parents’ concerns as they relate to their child’s development and later diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics : JDBP, 37(7), 532–40. https://doi.org/10.1097/DBP.0000000000000339