Early Intervention for Children at Risk of Autism is Key

Eastside SpeechAutism

Early Intervention for Children at Risk of Autism is Key | Eastside Speech

The Australian newspaper on March 13th 2022 published news of recent research indicating that autism could be detected as early as 18 months of age, and those children at risk being as young as 12 months of age.

Child healthcare workers used screening tools, the SACS-Revised (SACS-R) and SACS pre-school (SACS-PR) tools across Melbourne between June 2013 and July 2018. Children identified at risk were referred on to diagnostic specialists. The benefit has been that these “at risk” children were then able to access early intervention therapy services.

Research shows children at high risk of autism, who receive six months of therapy from the age of 12 months, gain more words in their vocabulary, will be better able to undertake schooling and will not need as much support as they grow up.

La Trobe researcher Kristelle Hudry, who led that study, said the benefits of just six months of low-intensity early intervention continued to stretch into childhood. “What we found is that of the infants who were meeting the SACS criteria at 12 months of age, when we provided them with six months of intervention, they had better communication and language skills and we found that those communication and language skills continued to be improved 18 months later.

Andrew Whitehouse, a professor of autism research at the Telethon Kids Institute, said early therapies and supports were crucial to providing support to children at a time when the brain was developing rapidly. He said by identifying children with autism within the first year of life, levels of significant disability could be reduced by a third. Andrew Whitehouse has previously published research indicating that children with Autism Spectrum Disorder could be identified as early as 9 months of age. Early intervention by speech pathologists is integral to the suite of therapies available for children at this age. A significant focus of therapy is helping parents to engage with their children in ways that promote their communication, and desire to connect with others.

If parents are concerned about their children, particularly in relation to their communication or if they are worried they are not engaging like other children their age, it’s never best to sit and wait.

Click here to find more information about Should I “wait and see” if my infant child is showing early signs of autism (ASD)?