There is so much controversy out there on autism early intervention. As for many sensitive topics, some is justified, some are pure myths. The thing about the web is, it’s a great source of information, but equally it’s a great source of misinformation. Which can be really tiring and confusing- so it stands to reason that we all have a nice, healthy dose of skepticism in all that we do.
“You know what they call alternative medicine that’s been proved to work? – Medicine.” ― Tim Minchin (comedian, actor)
There are quacks everywhere after all, selling us ideas, solutions and research from the bizarre to the downright dangerous! Autism research is no different; a bunch of pseudo-scientific ‘solutions’ or ‘cures’ out there, that would be funny if they weren’t so horrendously harmful.
One such ‘solution’, is pouring bleach down the child’s throat (yep), espousing that children have recovered within 20 months; another touts the procedure of chemical castration, which basically entails the burning off of a child’s intestines. Yikes!! Thankfully, that guy was stripped of his medical license, stat! So when you find research from a reputable, peer reviewed research program, you wanna sit up and listen.
In 2016, the University of Manchester published a breakthrough paper of their findings on an early intervention program for autistic children. Lead expert, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Jonathan Green, implemented the program with 152 children between the ages of two and four. The families would visit the research clinic twice a week for six months, where they were videoed with their children and a box of toys.
Though Autistic children might not interact with their parents at all, eventually the children did offer a toy or made a noise that could be interpreted as a request. Afterwards, parents were able to watch the incident re-run on video and the parent encouraged to respond in the future to these subtleties, even if that simply meant repeating the word and adding something.
The video interaction allowed the parent to work with the therapist in identifying movements, sounds, inflections and facial features in which the children were communicating so subtly, that parents often missed them in an isolated moment. Watching the videos back helped the parents to pick up things they ordinarily may not have even
One of the terrific things about this program was that it extended well beyond the therapeutic ‘hour’ that other intervention programs offered, because the work would continue with the parents at home. That parents were able to sustain the therapy with specificity and continuity is one of the reasons the intervention proved so successful!
The improvements by the end of the 1 st year were clear, but what is even more exciting is that the improvements were even more dramatic after 6 years. Other experts in the field have been thrilled by the results. Dorothy Bishop, Professor of Developmental Neuropsychology at the University of Oxford applauded the work, stating, “I can see why these researchers are excited.
These results at follow-up are pretty consistent in showing the benefit of this early intervention for autism across a range of measures. My impression is that this is an intervention that reduces the severity of autistic symptoms, rather than curing autism.
Nevertheless, for parents of children with autism, even a modest reduction would be worthwhile.” The scientific research confirmed improvements in language and social communication, as well as in repetitive behaviours. There’s no quackery in that!
Autism clinics like the Mifne Centre in Israel, and the Transforming Autism Project in the United Kingdom are already onto the profoundly transformative work of early intervention. They too have documented remarkable results and improvements, teaching these therapeutic methods intensively to parents, with the intention of applying them in day-to-day life at home. Brilliant. But early intervention also means early detection, so know the signs and symptoms of Autism, so you can give you little treasure
the best possible outcomes for the future.
We’re into empowering children, and reserving the use of bleach for nappies alone!