Recent national studies indicate that about 1 percent of children (nearly one in 91) ages 3 to 17 have autism or a related disorder. Whether this increase over previous estimates is an actual increase in diagnoses or simply reflects a heightened awareness of the disorder, early intervention is a necessity for these children to connect, engage and grow. Early intervention is defined as services delivered to children across the autism spectrum, including those labeled with autism, Asperger’s syndrome and other pervasive developmental disorders, from birth to age 3.
A great deal of research has shown that the first five years of a child’s life are key in their development and growth. To intervene with behavioral therapy before age 3 allows a child to learn new communication skills at a time when he or she is most able to grasp them. Communication, of course, is the key to learning.
In addition to establishing a pathway through which the child can learn, early behavioral therapy can significantly increase IQ and language ability, decrease negative behaviors, provide the child with a way to let others know what he or she needs, and decrease support services needed later in childhood.
Research has shown that without effective intervention, most people with autism require lifelong educational, family and adult services. Currently, the Autism Society estimates that the lifetime cost of caring for a person with autism ranges from $3.5 to $5 million and that the United States is facing almost $90 billion annually in costs for autism.* The total lifetime cost savings of someone who receives intensive early intervention can be almost $2 million!
There is no cure for autism. However, FACE accepts children as young as 3, and beginning services at that age or earlier can have a dramatic impact on reducing the symptoms of autism spectrum disorders, increasing the quality of life for children and their families, and yields a tremendous amount of progress for children to achieve their dreams and goals.
*This figure includes research, insurance costs and non-covered expenses, Medicaid waivers for autism, educational spending, housing, transportation, employment, in addition to related therapeutic services and caregiver costs.