Autism can be reliably diagnosed by age 2 – in some instances, as young as 18 months of age. Early diagnosis is important because research shows that high-quality early intervention can improve learning, social skills and daily function well into the school-age years, and likely across the lifespan. Early intervention involves a child’s entire family working closely with a team of professionals. Studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of several intensive early intervention programs based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). They include the Early Start Denver Model, Pivotal Response Therapy and JASPER (Joint Attention, Symbolic Play, Engagement and Regulation).
Atlanta Autism Center
These programs emphasize play-based interactions that encourage shared, or joint, attention and communication. Your child’s early intervention program should also enlist the appropriate specialists needed to address any autism-related sensory, speech, language, feeding and motor issues. Such specialists include occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, physical therapists and others.