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A Pediatric Perspective

Infant Autism Study

Published September 12, 2014 9:24 AM by Wendy Spoor-Hof
I'm sure you've heard by now about the recent study done by researchers at the University of California regarding Autism and early intervention. Their study, called the "Infant Start" study, is showing that infants who are showing early signs of Autism had little to no developmental delays by the time they reached their 3rd birthday when given early intervention.

The study group was a small group of seven children. Six out of the seven infants were able to catch up in their language and learning skills by the time they turned three. The seventh infant went on to be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder by their third birthday. The researchers felt that it was the early intervention offered to the infants that made the difference. Another group of infants who showed the same concerns but were not offered the same "Infant Start" program showed more significant delays as they reached their third birthday party.

The Washington Post ran an article about the "Infant Start" program. In the article they explained how the program showed the parents the best ways to interact with their babies during typical play sessions in the home. The play was to be done in a way that allowed the children to be encouraged to socialize with their parents more. One of the suggestions they would offer is to sit opposite their child when they are reading to them instead of having the baby sitting on their lap.  This small change would help to get the baby to look at the parent reading the book if they stopped or when they pointed to a picture. 

Truthfully, I am not overly surprised by the findings of this study.  It has long been known that early intervention will, in most cases, help babies/children who are showing signs of developmental delays learn the skills needed to catch up.  OTA has an article titled "Occupational Therapy in Early Intervention: Helping Children Succeed" that explains what early intervention is and how it can help.

I am surprise, though, that there are so many families and pediatricians that still don't know that each state has their own Early Intervention services available for families who may need them.  In my April 18, 2014 blog I shared information on Early Intervention and on how to contact one in your state. Cecelia Cruse wrote a blog on June 19, 2013 that shared a video showing a typical child and one with possible Autism to show the differences we should be on the lookout for.

It seems to me that no matter what the delay is or when it was discovered the earlier you can get intervention started the better. This is especially true when it comes to our children as their most informative and cognitive growth years is determined to be between 1 - 3 years of age.  So if you know of a young child who may be falling behind their peers in their developmental skills please don't hesitate to talk to the parents and encourage them to get a referral for an early intervention screening/evaluation.

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