The parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often notice the signs within the first two years of a child’s life; they might lack responsiveness, facial recognition, or play skills for example. At this point, an assessment should be made to determine whether the condition is present. The silver lining of an early diagnosis lies in the fact that an eighteen-month-old autistic child is not too far behind in development compared to their peers at this young age. Both ASD and non-ASD children are still learning to talk, walk, and interact with others. If treatment begins at a stage where children’s brains are in a constant state of retention, the probability of making significant progress is high.
The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) is an intervention model that incorporates behavioural intervention and naturalistic teaching to treat young children diagnosed with ASD. It is a long term, intensive therapy that trains children as young as eighteen months until they’re as old as five years, and is intended to equip them with the learning abilities and social skills they’ll require in grade school. Approximately 4-5 hours of ESDM for 5 days a week (20-25 hours each week) over a two-year period can produce improvements in IQ, language, and adaptive behaviours.
If a clinic doesn’t use the ESDM, the treatment options may be limited, so make sure you do your research and find out what each facility offers by way of treatment options. If you’re looking for autism treatment programs in Toronto, make sure to work with a clinic that uses the ESDM. Be sure that goals are set for each individual child by a group of professionals; ESDM views ASD as a complex disorder affecting all areas of functioning and therefore it requires an interdisciplinary approach. At Simone Friedman SLS, a clinic located in Toronto’s west end, a psychologist, speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, and physician all have a role in the treatment of a child. Teaching occurs within typical family routines such as meals, bathing, playtime, chores, and community outings targeting the child’s affected areas of development. These might include receptive communication, expressive communication, social skills, cognition, play, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, or personal independence.
Studies show that compared to children who had community-based intervention, the children who underwent ESDM improved significantly more than their peers. Two years after starting their intervention,those who did ESDM had IQ gains up to 18 points more compared with the 4 points gained by alternative interventions. Furthermore, an 18-point improvement in listening and understanding contrasted with the 10-point improvement in the community-based group, and adaptive behaviour reached a similar level to that of neurotypical children.Some even reversed their autistic diagnoses, and had them changed to milder conditions.
These findings underscored the importance of early detection and intervention in autism. Because of the carefully structured teaching methods and relationship-based approach, ESDM is proven to alter the trajectory of brain development. Furthermore, the techniques implemented can be transferred outside the classroom or clinic. Instructors can give parents tips and hands-on strategies they can use when performing daily activities or playing with their child. This way, the training extends to every aspect of a child’s life when they’re at the pinnacle of their development.
If you have a child diagnosed with ASD, consult a therapist, or speech-language pathologist about ESDM today. By committing to the model early on, your child will be lead on a highly-structured path of learning that could shape the course of their futures.