Who Benefits From Early Intervention?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Some children with an autism spectrum disorder respond better to early intervention therapies than others. Factors that seem to make a difference are:

· Age at diagnosis. One study showed that 70 percent of children given a diagnosis before 30 months improved more by age 9 than children who received a diagnosis after 30 months.

· Rapid progress once intervention begins.

· Language acquisition before age 5.

· A nonverbal IQ score above 70. Nonverbal intelligence includes the ability to reason, understand how things work and solve puzzles.

· Speaking spontaneous sentences by age 4 or 5.

· Understanding simple directions.

· Echolalia (echo-LAY-lee-ah), the repetition of words heard, either immediately or days, weeks, months or even years later.

· Effective use of gestures and a capacity for "joint attention," the ability to share enjoyment of an object using a shift in back-and-forth eye gaze from the object to another person. This ability usually develops about 9 months of age.

-- Jayne Lytel

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company