Early intervention education programs for children ages 3 thru 6 diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder is crucial. Evidence has shown that the earlier the intervention the better the outcomes. Effective education programs must address all of the child’s developmental areas: self-help, communication, physical, academic, and communication. Addressing each of the areas of development at an early age will help in developing a child’s independent functioning. Effective early childhood programs for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder need to include:
- A strong early childhood curriculum that addresses attending skills, communication, play and social skills.
- Structured teaching with visual schedules, work systems, and visual organization to support the child’s independence.
- A supportive teaching environment that incorporates visual supports, trained support staff and is void of unnecessary auditory and visual distractions.
- Opportunities for skill generalization.
- Functional behavior assessments as needed.
- Behavior plans that are based on functional behavior assessments.
- Family involvement, highly trained and effective teams, collaboration and parent education.
- Transition planning for moving the child from early childhood programming to elementary school.
- Regular and deliberate exposure to typically developing children.