Infants may show early signs of autism, although studies have found that Black children don’t typically get a diagnosis until three years after a parent expresses concern. Now, a new study suggests that jumpstarting therapy might stave off that diagnosis altogether.
Researchers say their preemptive, parent-led intervention could have a significant impact on children’s social development and longer-term disabilities.
“What we found is that the babies who received our therapy had reduced behaviors that we use to diagnose autism. And, in fact, the therapy was so effective in supporting their development, that the babies who had received the therapy were less likely to meet clinical criteria for autism,” study author Andrew Whitehouse says. He’s a professor of autism research at Telethon Kids Institute and the University of Western Australia.
Early Autism intervention
Here are 3 early autism prevention activities you can try to reduce your child’s risk of developing a clinical diagnosis.
1. Organized playdates
This is a great way to get your child to socialize with other kids early. Try hosting playdates with other kids around your child’s age. Getting involved by organizing games and activities for the kids in a natural way will teach your child how to appropriately interact with others. Start off with the following games: simple chase-and-tickle games, bubble blowing, or sensory activities such as swinging, sliding, or wriggling through a tube. Once your child’s abilities grow, you can advance to back-and-forth turn-taking games, collaborative games, or even make-believe.
2. Read books
Reading is a great activity to bond with your child. It can also enhance your child’s social development. There are several books that teach social learning tips and activities.
Many therapies try to replace developmental differences with more “typical” behaviors. This new therapy instead works with each child’s unique differences to create a social environment that would work for that child, according to the researchers.
Reading in particular can provide parents with increased sensitivity to their child’s unique communication.
3. Eye contact
Eye contact is something that children with autism often struggle with. As a method of preventing this, try placing stickers of eyes on your forehead. This can train them into looking in that direction and jumpstart them into getting comfortable with making eye contact.
Using this approach, “we’ve reduced the level of disability to the point that they don’t