Both Guy and Gilles, who founded Transforming Autism, have had experiences of dramatically improving the prospects and the quality of life of their autistic children beyond what would otherwise have been possible, through Early Intervention - providing treatment to the child at a very young age.
Unfortunately, despite the growing body of evidence confirming the power of Early Intervention, it is not yet widely recognised, and parents who suspect autism in their young children are very often told not to worry for a while and come back months or even years later if the concern is still there. As a result. the critical early years of childhood development, when it is possible to make profound and powerful changes, are lost.
A large part of our mission at Transforming Autism is to give hope, confidence and direction to parents and carers who would like to intervene early in the life of their autistic child.
As well as raising awareness of the power of Early Intervention to change an autistic child's life, we also plan eventually to ourselves provide treatment to very young children with autism and their families through our own very specialist autism clinic in the South East of England, based on and in association with the Mifne Clinic, where Guy's family was treated when his son was 2.
Why Early Intervention?
When a child has autism, they become very sensitive not only to certain sensory inputs (and different ones for each child), but much more importantly to their emotional environment. Reactions and behaviours that might seem completely unremarkable to a non-autistic person, might be the source of deep pain, doubt, confusion, uncertainty.
The result is anxiety, which them becomes central to how an autistic child continues to develop and attempt to cope with this confusing world around them. Arguably, it is this anxiety which informs their "coping strategies" (such as the stimulatory behaviours that are commonly seen in children with autism) and intensifies the acute inconvenience of their sensory sensitivity, in the same way that a certain sound might normally be barely noticeable to someone until they have a couple of days of scarce sleep and poor eating during a challenging emotional period, when it might then become a source of frustration.
If the anxiety that is becoming established in the very young autistic child can be soothed and eased before it becomes entrenched, then that child has a much better chance of going on to lead a fulfilled life and remaining connected to the world around them.
That is why treatment of a child with autism that begins when the child is very young and in the early stages of their formation can lead to far better outcomes than waiting until later.
As well as the great changes that families who have undergone such treatment have found, there is now a slowly building body of research that backs it up. We reported one one such study recently (the original research paper is here), and the Mifne Centre in Israel has also run a comparative study on families treated at their own clinic demonstrating significantly increased effectiveness of treatment in children treated between 12-24 months as compared as those treated between 24 and 36 months.
Beyond the studies, it makes clear sense that if a child is given the support they need before they establish potentially undesirable behavioural tendencies, develop and entrenched anxiety and fall further behind developmentally, they will have a much better quality of life and enhanced future prospects.