To get straight to the point, intervention should start as early as possible. My advice for parents is if you notice your child is not developing and meeting important developmental milestones, it is best to talk to your child’s doctor and explore services available instead of hoping “they’ll grow out of it” over time.
Why is it important to deal with the issue right away?
Because, unfortunately, the longer you wait, the more difficult it can be down the road. The earlier a problem is identified; the more effective an intervention can be. Research shows that children who receive intensive early intervention services are likely to make more progress and have better long-term outcomes. In fact, the long-term benefits of early intervention can decrease the costs of lifetime care by over two-thirds (Jarbinks and Knapp, 2001). In addition, some children who participate in early and intensive ABA for 2 or more years acquire sufficient skills to participate in regular classrooms with little or no additional support by kindergarten or first grade.
Small children are “sponges”. As their brains are developing their neural plasticity allows them to begin quickly learning new skills. Over time, as we age, this plasticity begins to decrease with age. This doesn’t mean that older children can’t still learn through intervention, because they can. Instead, it just means, as we age, learning patterns are formed, and it can be more difficult to change behavior due to a longer history of reinforcement. (I will get off my behavioral soapbox now)
Early intervention is key! Seek treatment now and get better results!