How Children with Asperger's Syndrome Benefit From Early Childhood Intervention Programs

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IDEA-Funded Early Intervention Services for Asperger’s Syndrome

Children who are diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome typically struggle with various communication issues. They often avoid eye contact, fail to engage in two-way conversations in a socially appropriate way, and strictly adhere to repetitive routines. These characteristics can cause a child with Asperger’s to have problems relating to family members, teachers, and classmates, sometimes to a severe extent. There are therapies available that can help, and they are most effective when started at the earliest age possible. It is important for parents who suspect their child may have Asperger’s syndrome or autism to begin the process of Early Intervention.

Early Childhood Intervention programs that are federally funded by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provide Asperger’s children with therapies at no cost to the family. Referrals can be made to an Early Intervention Official with parent permission; this can be done by a doctor, an early childhood educator, or the parent. An evaluation of the child then takes place, followed by a written plan for appropriate services. Children with Asperger’s syndrome or related autism spectrum disorders often respond well to Early Intervention programs such as speech and language therapy, family training, occupational therapy, and psychological services. IDEA offers Early Intervention to children under the age of three; older children can often qualify for services through their school districts.

Private Early Intervention Services For Asperger’s Syndrome

Private Early Intervention services are quite costly, but some parents choose to take this route because they desire a specific program for their Asperger’s child that is not provided through federal grants. One example of a private therapy program is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), in which certain negative behaviors are observed and modified through changes in the child’s environment. Children with Asperger’s syndrome can use an ABA technique known as “chaining” to master social and life skills through a series of small steps. Another private therapy program is Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI), which is done for at least 30 hours a week over a period of several years. This intensive program focuses on skill assessment, positive reinforcement, and parental training in behavior intervention.

Early Childhood Intervention programs, whether public or private, can be implemented both in the home or in another setting with a trained therapist. These services can greatly reduce the challenges that children with Asperger’s syndrome face as they enter school. Parents who are interested in therapies that are not in their budget can still apply some of the Early Intervention techniques themselves by researching various methods.