Early diagnosis makes a difference when it leads to effective treatment. Research has shown that young children with autism who receive comprehensive, intensive intervention based on ABA are much more likely to catch up to peers by the time they are 6 years of age than are young children who receive less ABA - even combined with other services like speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and preschool programs (e.g., Eldevik et al, 2009; 2010; Howard, et al, 2004; 2015, Cohen et al, 2005).
Treatment should be comprehensive.
Young children with autism are delayed developmentally in many areas: language, behavior, play, self-help, self-awareness, social skills, and cognition. Treatment needs to focus on all these areas in order to have a chance to catch up by kindergarten. Our integrated approach means that the findings from the field of speech and language pathology are built into every child’s program, every day, in every interaction
ABA should be intensive.
Children don’t catch up in all developmental areas with a mixture of therapies and some ABA. Young children who receive 25-35 hours (therapeutic levels) per week of ABA are much more likely to test in the normal range in intellectual ability, self-help skills, and language than children who receive a mixture of therapies and sub-therapeutic levels of ABA (< 25 hours). Treatment usually involves 300 goals and objectives over a year so that all areas are covered. We focus on building foundational skills that will help each child learn in the same ways that typically developing children do: including imitation, observational learning, and seeking information.
Treatment should be individualized. Some children begin with a lower treatment intensity (15 hours per week) which then increases to 25-35 hours within 4-6 weeks. Other children are able to respond well to higher treatment intensity levels from the beginning.