Autism: Why Act Early?
If you’re concerned about your child’s development, don’t wait. You know your child best. Use a developmental milestones checklist, talk with your child’s doctor, and call your local early intervention program.
Acting early can make a big difference!
Intervention is likely to be more effective and less costly when it is provided earlier in life rather than later.1
- "My doctor said to wait. But having two older children, I knew something wasn't right, and I wasn't willing to wait around hoping it would all get better on its own. I got a second opinion and called the early intervention program, and I'm so thankful that I did! My instincts were right, and now that my daughter is getting help, I'm seeing her make real progress, progress she might not have made if I had waited to act." Maryland mom
High-quality early intervention services can change a child's developmental path and improve outcomes for children, families, and communities.1
- "Things are confusing; I needed someone to teach me the 'rules.' The things I learned in early intervention helped the world make sense." Florida teenager with Autism Spectrum Disorder
- "Because my parents acted early, I have a brother who I can have a relationship with." Florida brother of person with Autism Spectrum Disorder
- "If it's autism, waiting for a child to 'catch up on his own' just won't work. Acting early can help a child communicate, play, and learn from the world now and for the future. It can also prevent frustration—so common in children with communication difficulties—from turning into more difficult behaviors." Pennsylvania clinical psychologist
Connections in the brain (also called neural circuits), which create the foundation for learning, behavior and health, are most adaptable or "plastic" during the first three years of life. Over time, they become increasingly difficult to change.1
- "Every day you delay action is an opportunity missed." Florida dad
- "The earlier developmental delays are detected and intervention begins, the greater the chance the young child, because of more brain plasticity, has of eventually achieving typical or near typical development. Unfortunately, the longer we wait to start interventions, the less likely the child will achieve his or her maximal potential. " Georgia pediatrician
Families benefit from early intervention by being able to better meet their children's special needs from an early age and throughout their lives.1
- "Your child expects you to meet his needs, and waiting will not solve anything." Florida teenager with Autism Spectrum Disorder
- "Action replaced fear and empowered me with knowledge to help my son. He has overcome most of his symptoms and is headed to college next year." Florida mom
Society can benefit by saving money through a decreased need for special education.1
- "Acting early gives your child a chance to receive the appropriate therapy, giving him the best chance for a good outcome in the future. I believe that early intervention is the reason my high-functioning son is now able to blend in with his peers and attend kindergarten in a regular classroom with no supports." Kansas mom
- The Importance of Early Intervention for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities and Their Families [1.19 MB] Accessed February 26, 2015.
- Page last reviewed: April 3, 2017
- Page last updated: April 3, 2017
- Content source:
- National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
- Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs