Intervention for Infants and Toddlers at Risk for ASDs

The following information regarding early intervention comes, in part, from the autism team at the University of Washington’s Autism Center-led by Dr. Geraldine Dawson. There are four core principles of intervention with infants and toddlers who are at risk for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs):

Principle #1: Social Engagement

Intervention focuses on shared activities including social sensory and joint attention routines. Shared activities is where language and communication develop.

Principle #2: Development

Skills are carefully adjusted to match or slightly exceed the child’s developmental level. Strategies are modeled after normal patterns of interaction and development.

Principle #3: Naturalistic Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

Naturalistic ABA approaches are emphasized such as Pivotal Response Training. Other naturalistic approaches include Stanley Greenspan’s DIR Floortime Model for establishing joint attention. These approaches are designed to promote communication development, motivation, and positive affect.

Principle #4: Partnership with Parents and Caregivers

Parents/caregivers are partners and the experts about their child. Parents are key to their child’s development and generalization of new skills to multiple settings. Other elements of a comprehensive learning model include a comprehensive developmental curriculum; interdisciplinary to include speech and language, occupational therapy and pediatrics. Intervention should consist of 20-25 hours per week and slowly transition from one-to-one to small group activities.

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