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5480 Early Identification and Effective Early Intervention Programming for Young Children with Autism [BCBA Session]

Thursday, July 7, 2011: 1:00 PM-2:15 PM
Sun A (Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center)
Early identification and diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders is critical for young children in order for families to secure appropriate and effective early intervention services. Development of curriculum-based programming is essential to the success of early intervention services. Utilizing the principles and strategies of Applied Behavior Analysis, practitioners can provide effective early intervention programs. The diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder can be both confusing and devastating to parents.  Families of newly diagnosed infants and toddlers are faced with the unknown and expectations for their child's future are drastically altered.  Although early intervention service provision varies from state to state there is general consensus that early identification and treatment of autism spectrum disorders is critical.  Intensive programming utilizing a specialized, developmentally appropriate curriculum is essential for optimal results.  The definition of early intervention and the age that children are identified as having autism has changed dramatically over the past 20 years.  With improved screening tools and diagnostic markers, children can be identified as early as 12 months of age, allowing the families to explore and secure intensive early intervention services at a very young age.  Early intervention practitioners need to be aware of these early indicators and guide families to appropriate professionals as early as possible to allow for optimal results.  A description of these tools and how they can be used to identify young children on the spectrum will be provided and discussed during the presentation.  Participants will identify behaviors that may be indicative of a diagnosis of autism and referral information will be discussed.  Specific learning characteristics will be discussed that will assist in early identification. Although there are many standardized evaluation tools available to assess skill levels in young children, there are several that may offer additional information for program development.  Participants will be provided with descriptions of various standardized tools that can be effective in goal planning for infants and toddlers.   Participants will be provided with information on appropriate frequency of service in early intervention and which services should be incorporated for effective intervention. 

  The use of a comprehensive curriculum based in principles of applied behavior analysis to develop an Individual Family Service Plan will provide for effective early intervention programming.  Participants will learn how to integrate developmentally appropriate early intervention outcomes with the strategies of applied behavior analysis.  Although early intervention practitioners typically utilize more child directed approaches to intervention, the strategy we have found most effective in working with infants and toddlers is a child-initiated, adult directed approach (Holmes, et al 1996).   Participants will understand the strategies used in a child-initiated, adult directed approach to treatment and compare the effectiveness of this strategy to other methodologies.  Treatment goals should be implemented and guided through an age appropriate curriculum that addressed skills across all developmental domains, physical, cognitive, social emotional, adaptive skills, and communication.  Participants will understand the skill sequence when planning appropriate early intervention outcomes and guiding families through the process of goal selection.

  Parent Training is a critical component in early intervention programming.  Parents need to be partners in treatment in order to generalize skills into natural settings.  Family Training on the techniques and strategies of ABA should complement the programming implemented for the child.  Parent Training guidelines will be provided to participants.  Participants will gain insight into the parent training strategies that can most effective for families of infants and toddlers on the spectrum.


Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will understand early behaviors indicative of a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorders.
  • Participants will be introduced to a variety of early screening tools to assess young children.
  • Curriculum assessment and development of Individual Family Service Plans for young children on the spectrum
  • Participants will understand use of ABA strategies to provide family centered services in Early Intervention

Content Area: Early Intervention


Diane Van Driesen, M.S., CCC, BCBA
Director of Outreach-Clinic
Eden Autism Services

Diane Van Driesen is Director of Outreach Services Clinic for Eden Autism Services. She received her M.S. in Speech Pathology and is licensed in New Jersey as a Speech and Language Specialist. She additionally holds her BCBA ceritification. She oversees Eden’s Early Intervention Program and supplemental clinic services for Eden Outreach.