Interventions and Treatments
Interventions are available for children of any age. Intensive early education and therapy shows greatest long term outcomes.
Fortunately, children in the US with disabilities are entitled to publicly provided services if they are sufficiently delayed and later unable to access the standard public school curriculum because of their needs.
Infants and Toddlers
Children under three receive Early Intervention services, which typically include speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and/or a developmental educator. Early Intervention may include play groups at a center, services provided at a child’s daycare, or even services provided at home.
Preschoolers and School-age children
Public school systems provide evaluations and services for children from the age of three. Preschoolers may be offered specific services with or without a specialized classroom program. In elementary school and beyond, students found eligible for Individualized Education Plans may be given a range of individualized interventions, such as (but not limited to)
- small-group reading programs
- individualized math teaching
- learning support in a Resource Room
- special education by a trained teacher within the regular classroom setting
- extended time for tests
- modified directions
- speech and language therapy
- occupational therapy
- physical therapy
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
Children with ASD comprise a growing population. Like other children with disabilities, their services are provided through publicly funded programs.
The National Academy of Sciences gathered a Committee on Educational Interventions for Children with Autism to address early intervention, preschool, and school programs for children with autism from birth to age 8. The committee report contains findings and conclusions about the current state of knowledge, policy issues, and compelling research needs. In their final publication, Educating Children with Autism (National Academy Press, 2001), the committee advocated several vital components, such as
- implementing early intervention as soon as an autism spectrum disorder is seriously considered
- including intensive instructional programming – a minimum of a full school day, at least 5 days (25 hours)/week, throughout the year
- utilizing repeated teaching that is organized around brief intervals with individual and very small group instructions
- including a family component
In order for intervention to be provided early and appropriately, children with needs must be identified and referred. Routine validated screening helps providers move toward this goal and mirrors the committee’s emphasis on the central role of the family in meeting the needs of children with developmental disabilities.