Nowadays, parents are generally aware of what autism is and how it detracts from an individual’s quality of life. However, many parents may not be aware of how the condition is treated. Pediatricians and psychologists stress the importance of early detection when it comes to treating autism. As with so many health and mental conditions, early detection can minimize the impact such a condition has on an individual’s life.
Early treatment for autism is aimed at increasing a child’s social and intellectual development. According to some doctors, autism symptoms can begin at as early an age as 14 months old. Signs of developing autism in young infants include not making eye contact, not developing gestures, not making noises to attract the attention of others, and not responding to cuddling and other physical contact. If a child is not responding to his or her name and engaging in “baby talk” or early attempts at talking by the age of one year old, screening for autism is important to get affected children started on an appropriate treatment regime.
Early treatment for autism can help minimize autism symptoms later in life in the following ways:
By building early social skills through forcing social interactions- A growing baby develops responses to social stimuli at an early age. Children with autism either are severely delayed in developing these responses or don’t develop them at all. Once a child’s response mechanisms for responding to stimuli are established, it can be hard to change them. Therefore, therapists need to begin conditioning children to respond normally as early as possible.
By facilitating the development of motor skills- Autism is not only manifested in delayed social skills. It is also seen in motor skill issues that can be corrected by physical therapy and other types of therapy that work to improve the child’s control of his or her body.
By engaging the child intellectually to encourage brain development- Autistic children are associated with exceptional mental abilities due to the conditions association in pop culture with the movie Rain Man. However, autistic children actually tend to perform lower than children without autism on early intelligence tests. The intellectual abilities of children whose treatment for autism begins early show that their intellectual development is less impacted and their IQs are more in line with those of normal children.