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Autism Intervention: The Role Of Parents and Families

Therapy Must Continue At Home

Many autism interventions take place outside of the home, at a therapist’s office or school. There are home-based therapies, such as “Floortime” that can be extended to the home; all family members can get involved in simply playing with and engaging a child on his or her level.

Families of autistic children can extend speech, occupational, and physical therapies to the home setting.

Therapists can give advice and instruction to family members to help them engage children in therapy outside of the therapist’s office.

Simple things such as helping a child to recognize words can happen anywhere: encouraging a child to name a color, pointing out an interesting tree, encouraging a child to say “hello” can all be extensions of more formal therapy.

Educate Yourself

Parents’ education about autism and involvement with other parents can help them understand their child’s interventions. Parents can participate in – or just listen to – parent support groups that will help educate them on different therapy techniques to try at home.

Learning about the best and most recent therapies can help parents to become a better advocate for their child. Getting involved in a community can not only educate parents but empower them as well.

Maintain Routine

Keeping the family routine and structure may be difficult when a child first enters intervention. Appointments can take up a lot of time and put a strain on siblings’ activities.

Keeping an established routine, though, can help the effectiveness of intervention by providing the child a solid place from which to start.

Communicate

Parents should ask as many questions as they need about interventions to be sure they understand how they work and what the goal of each therapy is.

Keeping open communication between parent and therapist or other treating professional is crucial to helping a child receive the most effective intervention.

For more on how autism affects families, see Your Family and Autism.

Resources For Autism Early Intervention

Early Intervention is low- or no-cost services mandated by the US Congress for infants and toddlers with disabilities. Physicians routinely refer these services to children at risk of a developmental delays or disability.

Early intervention services were mandated by the US Congress in 1986 through Public Law 105-17.

Designed to provide early, intensive interventions to children who have been identified as at-risk for developmental delays, the services “enhance the development of infants and toddlers with disabilities and minimize their potential for developmental delay.”

According to Public Law 105-17, “Early Intervention [is] a statewide, comprehensive, coordinated, multidisciplinary, interagency system that provides early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families.”

States use federal grant money to provide services, administered by each state and provided within parameters set by the federal government. States also establish eligibility criteria in line with federal criteria.

Because early intervention for children with autism is critical to ensuring the most positive outcome possible, these services are a crucial part of treatment for autism.

Children who qualify for early intervention services have a delay or disability in one or more of the following developmental areas: cognitive, adaptive, physical, communicative, and social and emotional development.

Your pediatrician may offer you information about these services as part of the screening and/or assessment process. If he or she does not offer information about these services, be sure to ask about where you can find out more.

Screening and assessment, counseling, family training and home visits, speech, occupational, and physical therapy, as well as social work services are some of the services offered. The services are offered at no cost to families except for a few exceptions.

To learn more about early intervention resources in your state, see the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center’s State Part C Coordinator Contact Listing.