|Protodeclarative pointing - joint attention|
- Social - Infants with autism show delays in smiling, gazing at their mothers and responding to their names and gesturing (e.g., pointing, waving bye-bye). This pattern continues, with the most impaired children growing to be avoidant or aloof from all social interaction.
- Communication - Infants and toddlers with autism have delays in babbling, using single words, and forming sentences. Effective language acquisition and use remains a problem throughout life. 50% of people with autism never learn to speak.
- Behavioural - Children with autism have difficulty tolerating any changes in routine leading to frequent tantrums. They display repetitive movements of the hands in front of the face, later giving rise to other peculiar and stereotyped movements and behaviours that stigmatise them as individuals.
These disabilities affect the ability of the person with autism to live independently and to carry out normal day-to-day activities of life
Early intervention is effective in autism (Dawson et al 2010). The earlier the intervention the better. Effective early intervention programs can reduce disability to the extent that after two years nearly 30% of affected children no longer meet the diagnostic criteria for autism. There are numerous programs based on different philosophies and strategies, but most have some common components. Educational and behavioural techniques form the mainstay of these programs. Family involvement is essential. There is currently no evidence that any one program is better than the other.
- Most programs involve 15 to 25 hours of intervention a week. They capitalize on natural tendency of children with autism to respond to visual structure, routines, schedules, and predictability.
- Good programs incorporate the child’s current interests and actively engage the child in a predictable environment with few distractions.
- They incorporate effective and systematic instructional approaches and use standard behavioural principles. The aim is generalization and maintenance of skills learned in therapy to life situations.
- Challenging behaviours are managed with functional behavioural assessment and positive behavioural supports
2. Addresses deficit areas
- Inability to attend to relevant aspects of the environment, shift attention, and imitate the language and actions of others
- Difficulty in social interactions, including appropriate play with toys and others, and symbolic and imaginative play
- Difficulty with language comprehension and use, and functional communication.