Over the years, many individuals with Autism have not received a diagnosis during the pivotal period of 18-months to 3 years of age, often out of fear of placing a lifelong label on the child. While it has been understood that Autism is a lifelong developmental disability, there is increasing evidence that many of the symptoms of Autism may not necessarily be lifelong. Studies have shown that many individuals previously diagnosed with Autism who received early intensive Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) intervention no longer meet the diagnostic criteria in later years.
ABA therapy is the application of the science of behavior and learning that is widely used to teach skills to individuals with a wide range of needs, including those on the Autism spectrum, to lead fulfilling lives. For young children, this is applied by teaching skills systematically through direct, naturalistic, and play-based instruction in a manner that ensures understanding and real world application.
Early diagnosis plays a tremendous role in ensuring that those who are diagnosed get the intervention and support they deserve to live a better life, both in the short-term and long-term. The earlier the intervention begins, the earlier problem behaviors can be reduced and age-appropriate skills can be taught. In addition to the child gaining skills in the short-term, early intervention helps to prevent problem behaviors from worsening and an increase in skill gaps. This also results in financial savings, as children who have received early intervention often require less, if any, structured or intensive intervention later in life.
Clearly early intervention will leave a lifelong impact and overall improvement in quality of life, which alone is well worth ensuring that an Autism diagnosis is sought out and obtained as early as possible.