Early intervention services focus more on “readiness to learn” skills, which allow the child to learn from their environment (i.e., imitation, following directions, engaging with developmentally-appropriate toys). These skills are addressed with the ultimate goal for the child to meet developmental milestones, then continue meeting further milestones as they come. Direct ABA addresses more in-depth skills that follow a curriculum based on the child’s specific deficits (i.e., learning levels of friendship for a child who does not demonstrate the concept of strangers vs. safe friends/families). Direct ABA also has a deeper emphasis on behavior modification.
This program is designed to help your child begin meeting milestones by age 3 and not require further support thereafter. If the child continues to demonstrate delays at age 3, it may be recommended to seek an evaluation for autism or other disorders. If you are interested in seeking an evaluation, you can get a referral from your pediatrician.
Direct ABA therapy is available for children under 3 who have a diagnosis of autism. Early intervention is not accessible to those with a diagnosis of autism, however, these foundational goals can be addressed during direct ABA as well.
Parent participation during early intervention sessions is critical so you can use the strategies provided to you within sessions to continue teaching outside of sessions and maximize the progress of your child. You are your little one’s most important teacher, so it is key to their success that these sessions are used to support you.
Early intervention sessions can take place as few as 2 times per week or as many as 5 times per week and session length can be 1.5-3 hours long. Session frequency and duration will depend on the number of early intervention hours that are recommended during assessment and other factors.