Early Interventions

From the moment John was diagnosed, we moved into the early interventions and programs. These included a Speech and Language Therapist, an Occupational Therapist and an Educational Psychologist.

All found that he was having problems in 4 areas (A – D below), and will require ongoing cooperation from us, his parents, the teacher and the identified Support Teacher for it to be successful.

124432-721x666- Communication early interventionsA. Social Communication and Interaction Skills

At school, John has significant difficulties in playing and social interaction skills. He pretends to play but actually prefers to play alone and does not welcome interaction.

When at home he comprehends what I say purely through constant repetition.

Recommended Early Interventions

  • Opportunities to practice social skills such as listening, turn-taking. staying on topic and asking questions both at home and in school.
  • The use of social stories or comic strip stories to teach my son expected behaviors in specific settings.
  • Participation in adult-supported small group/paired activities, to introduce sharing and turn-taking in school.
  • Encouragement by friends to initiate social interaction, conversation, and play skills development.

communicateB. Speech, Language and Communication Skills

John has significant difficulties in communication.

At home he sometimes constructs sentences, however, this occurs less frequently at school. He cannot maintain eye contact when spoken to but he does repeat the words that I say to him most of the time.

At school, he rarely communicates but is beginning to answer questions through constant prompting. And there are those wonderful moments when he will start a conversation with his Support Teacher or with his peers.

Recommended Early Interventions

A Speech and Language Therapist will be assigned to help John with his speech and language development. This person will

  • Use social stories or comic strip stories to teach my son expected behaviors in specific settings.
  • Encourage his participation in adult-supported small group/paired activities, to introduce sharing and turn-taking in school.
  • Encourage his friends to initiate social interaction, conversation, and play skills development.
  • Help him learn new words through repetition and modeling.
  • Encouragement to label objects, emotions, and feelings, using photographs, pictures, and facial expressions.
  • Encourage him to use language during play
  • Utilize visual timetables.

teacher-student issues autismC. Attention and Concentration Skills

Autism inhibits concentration and John’s span does not allow him to maintain focus for long periods of time. This is particularly noticeable during class discussions at school. He cannot sit still and finds it difficult to re-focus once distracted by things such as items being blown by the wind. This also occurs at home.

Recommended Early Interventions

  • Use of visual aids, verbal prompts and positive reinforcement, including praise.
  • Use of descriptive praise when he sits still or engages in a task appropriately.
  • Use of varied activities incorporating my son’s interests in order for him to engage well.
  • Curbing of his movements where boundaries need to be laid, by constant reminders or prompts (visual gesture or symbol). Particularly during a PE lesson or general movement.
  • Masking tape could be used to mark lines, and a mat could be his ‘island’ where he is encouraged to sit still for short periods

no-hitting-others-clipart-1D.Behavioral and Fine Motor SkillsComplete-Intro-19

Autistic children tend to scream and hurt themselves when overloaded with information. This is their way of dealing with frustrations. At school, John makes screeching noises and flaps his hands in front of his face. He has problems with his hand movement and coordination.

He cannot hold a pencil properly when writing, neither can he hold a fork when eating.

Recommended Early Interventions

  • Use of visual schedules in class and at home to establish my son’s understanding of routine and behavioral expectations.
  • Use of picture symbols to represent expected behaviors like sitting down, where one must observe his eyes, etc.
  • Use of a token board to encourage and reinforce appropriate behaviors and the completion of least-liked activities or tasks.
  • Pre-writing exercises like drawing patterns and modeling materials like playdough or plasticine to increase dexterity.
  • Facilitating writing via symbols, computer programs, and Makaton signing etc
  • Additional stimulants/tools of other agencies to be acquired, including the products/services of the Educational Psychology Service.

I sincerely hope these insights have helped in some way, and welcome your questions should there be any.

Adel 🙂

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6 thoughts on “Early Interventions

  1. How did you come up with your son’sdiagnosis that he has autism? Did you get it from a psychiatrist? I ask because my 7 year old daughter’s diagnosis was only “speech delay” but I noticed that she also suffers from writing and reading learning difficulties. I think the early interventions that you have suggested will also help my daughter with regards to her special needs.

    1. My son was seen by a Paediatrician who referred him to a Speech and Language and Play Therapist. He was tested for his ability to communicate and to engage during play. He failed in these areas although his IQ results are average to above average intelligence. If you want to know more, please click on, https://livingwithanautisticchild.com/getting-the-….

      Hope this help answer your question. All the best to you and your daughter!

  2. Hi Adel!

    Not only are you a courageous and wonderful mother to your son, but you have deeply explored therapeutic methods that can help very many Autistic children, I believe.
    I find ecspecially fascinating the possibilities to help such a child train his/her hands using different materials that are suitable and flexible.
    Although I don’t know much about this, I can well imagine that coordination skills can be touched and developed, by a constant, comfortable and well-loved use of such help aids at playtime or in other areas of daily life involving touching, feeling and handling.
    Thank you very much, Adel, for offering your life experience, and for helping your wonderful son, and then creating this great website to share this with many people!
    God bless your whole family!
    Therese

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Therese. There are lots of early learning opportunities for children with autism. These are just an outline early interventions. I will be posting how they will be able to access all these. You are right about the hand coordination improvement. Having sensory issues are one of their main problems. Behaviour modification can alter these by giving them the opportunity to experience touching different textures so that they could recognise which is soft and hard, smooth and rough and hot and cold. Hand dexterity or fine motor coordination can be developed through making use of playdough or modelling clay, lego blocks, pegs etc.

  3. HI Adel,

    It sounds like you are getting some excellent care for John. Lots of hard work I am sure.

    Amny parents of autistic kids have found some improvement through diet modification. Basically avoiding processed foods as much as possible (colors and preservatives are bad).

    Also taking a high quality EPA/DHA Omega oil has made a huge difference in many cases of autism.

    Have you tried any any supplements with John?

    All the best,

    Dr Brad

    1. Thank you, Dr. Brad, for the wonderful suggestions. Yes, John knows that he is not allowed to eat too many sweets. He does not drink fizzy and carbonated drinks though he drinks apple juice. He eats oily fish and more on veggies. He likes fruits as well. He knows the meaning of a well-balanced diet and always follow the rules. In other words, he knows the do’s and don’t’s. Diet modification will be one of my topics in my future posts which will give emphasis to the importance of gluten-free diet, gut-friendly foods and dietary supplements or vitamins which I have all implemented to John.

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