Why is early intensive treatment so important? Just as an early diagnosis and treatment for cancer, for example, is so important in the individual patient’s prognosis for recovery, so too is an early diagnosis and treatment for autism. Early treatment recommendations called for 40 hours of instruction weekly for 12 months, as recommended by Dr. Ivar Lovaas. Current treatment recommendations are usually based on the severity of the symptoms and are made on an individual basis. These treatment recommendations often include not less than 30 hours per week of intensive instruction, speech/language therapy, occupational therapy, and parent training. Children who are treated early are less likely to establish behavior patterns that are increasingly more difficult to change after several years. Therefore, the earlier therapy can begin, the less likely it is that rigid patters of behavior will be ‘cemented’ into the child’s repertoire and the more likely it is that treatment will result in the optimum result for the individual child. Subsequent chapters will focus on the myriad of treatment options, and will provide a clearer understanding of which options may be most useful for your child.
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