A number of studies have documented that the enrollment of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in early intervention programs is associated with improvements in IQ, language skills and educational placement.
Studies of early intensive behavioral intervention have demonstrated that for many children, early intensive intervention begun while a child is of preschool age and continued for 2 to 3 years results in substantial improvements in ASD.
The initiation of early interventional programs are believed to be beneficial since the brains of infants and toddlers have a higher degree of plasticity, or the ability to create new neural networks, compared to older children. Early intervention, before the brain has developed past the point of plasticity, is thought to improve children's outcomes.
Unfortunately, since it can often take up to 4 to 5 years to receive a definitive autism diagnosis, the opportunity to initiate and receive the benefits of early intensive intervention is not possible for many children.
Identifying newer biologic and observational screening methods which can assist in the earlier identification of children at risk of autism are being pursued in order to allow for an increased number of children to enroll in these early intervention programs.
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