Our goal is to simplify the information gathering and evaluating process. Our approach is to provide multiple perspectives from leading authorities and varies websites on autism related topics. This will provide our readers the opportunity to gather multiple viewpoints from a single location and form the best-educated decisions for their family’s needs.
Disclaimer: The Autism Resource Foundation provides general information to the autism community. The information comes from a variety of sources, and the Autism Resource Foundation does not independently verify any of it, nor does it necessarily reflect the views and/or opinions of the Autism Resource Foundation. Nothing on this website should be construed as medical advice. Always consult your doctor regarding the needs of your family.
April 21, 2015
Question: What Is Early Intervention for Autism?
If you have an infant or toddler (age range: birth to three years) with symptoms of autism, your child and your family may be eligible for early intervention services. What is early intervention for autism?
Answer: Early intervention (EI) is a program mandated by the Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Its basic purpose is to find and treat very young children who are at risk of disability or delay.
Some studies suggest that early intervention services can significantly improve outcomes for children with autism — and their families.
What makes EI tricky? It’s different in every state. The federal government provides grants to each state for its programs, but outside of general requirements for access and programming in a “natural setting,” the law does little to describe or define EI programs. As a result, EI can be idiosyncratic and bureaucratic. On the other hand, a good EI program is worth its weight in gold — and research does suggest that EI can be the key to success for children on the autism spectrum.
While early intervention programs are different from state to state, the package of services available are similar — and all are free of charge, no matter what your income. Most states provide specialized and/or inclusive preschool programs designed to build social and communication skills. Many offer standard therapies, such as speech, occupational therapy, social skills therapy, behavioral interventions, family therapy, and even Applied Behavior Analysis.
If you qualify for Medical Assistance — and your family income is not necessarily the qualifying factor — you may be eligible for free healthcare and one-on-one support for your child on the autism spectrum. Medical Assistance programs vary from state to state, so it’s a good idea to ask for help from EI professionals in the application process.
To find out more about early intervention:
- Start your search at Wrightslaw,a special needs education law site that describes EI’s place in the legal system.
- Next, find your state resources at National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities.
- Finally, rather than going directly to the state institutions that handle EI, contact a parent resource center in your state for help. Explain your situation, and ask for help. Other parents are the best source of information for getting the services you need, when and as you need them!