The Parent Infant Centre

it can be too late
but never too early

Autism

Autism is a developmental disability that effects how an individual relates to other people and to the world around them. This may include difficulties in communicating with others and in understanding social interactions. The individual may also feel overwhelmed by sensory input, such as sounds or touch. 

The world can be harder to understand for an autistic person and so they may seek the safety of a strict routine or a very focused interest. The feeling of being overwhelmed can also lead to very high levels of anxiety, which the individual can try to sooth using repetitive behaviours, such as hand flapping, spinning or rocking.

Autism can take many different forms and so it is more common now to speak of an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). This spectrum ranges from individuals who are only mildly autistic, through to individuals who are severely affected and cannot live independently. Other problems can sometimes be found alongside autism, such as a learning difficulty.

More information about autism can be found on the website of the National Autistic Society.


Our approach to autism

The mechanisms and causes of autistic behaviour are still unclear. However, it seems likely that a combination of genetic and environmental factors are involved. What has become clearer is that this condition can be spotted at a very young age and that early intervention has the potential to change the course of the individual’s life. 

Some people object to ideas that autism can be treated, believing instead that neurodiversity should be accepted and valued. We agree that each individual should be valued for their individuality and particular strengths. However, for many children and their families ASD is associated with considerable distress and greatly limits life chances. 

We believe that every child should be helped to meet their full potential, including children with ASD. Studies are increasingly showing that early and intensive interventions can have a significant effect upon this condition.

Some recent studies and articles on the effects of early intervention on ASD:

A widely-reported follow up study by Annette Estes et al. looked at children with an early diagnosis of ASD who had received two years of home-based intensive interventions. Two years after these had ended, the gains made during the interventions had been maintained. Significantly, the study found that the children's 'core autism symptoms' had improved during the period after the interventions, compared to a control group. 

A more recent UK study followed up children even longer after an early intervention. The study looked at an approach that focuses particularly upon improving parent-child communication in natural home settings. The study found improvements in the child's ASD symptoms six years after the interventions had ended.

Finally, here is a detailed discussion of Naturalistic Developmental Behavioral Intervention (NDBI) approaches. As with the approaches mentioned above, NDBI's emphasise the importance of communication within meaningful relationships and in naturalistic settings. Our blog post discusses the similarity between our approach and that of NDBIs.

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