How Do You Help A 2 Year Old With Autism

Empower your 2-year-old with autism through early intervention, therapies, and effective strategies.

judah schiller
Judah Schiller
June 3, 2024
Published On
June 3, 2024

Early Intervention for Autism

In the context of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), early intervention refers to the services and therapies that children with autism receive at a young age to aid their development. These interventions typically commence as early as 2-3 years of age, a time when the brain exhibits high plasticity and better learning potential.

Benefits of Early Treatment

Research shows that the earlier a child with autism receives treatment, the greater the likelihood that they'll catch up to their peers, learn critical social and emotional skills, and overcome barriers to future independence [2]. Early treatment is particularly crucial as it can help children with ASD develop skills, manage sensory experiences, and behaviors, leading to improved quality of life both now and in the future. Studies indicate that initiating early intervention for autism is more likely to result in positive outcomes in the future than starting intervention later in childhood or adulthood.

Impact of Early Intervention Before 3 Years

The age at which a child begins treatment for autism can significantly impact their development. According to the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, treatment before 3 years of age may have a greater impact than those begun after 5 [2]. This highlights the importance of early detection and diagnosis, which enables the initiation of treatment within this critical developmental window.

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be diagnosed by the age of 2, and once diagnosed, early intervention should be initiated to improve outcomes [1]. This serves to emphasize the critical nature of early intervention in optimizing the development and future independence of children with autism.

Recognizing Signs of Autism

Recognizing the signs of autism in young children is crucial for early intervention and effective treatment. In this section, we explore the early signs of autism in 2-year-olds and the importance of early detection.

Early Signs in 2-Year-Olds

According to Therapeutic Pathways, signs of autism are typically present by a child's second birthday. In some cases, one-third of parents express concern before their child turns one. Parents may notice early signs of autism in their 2-year-old children, such as limited eye contact, delayed speech development, repetitive behaviors, and difficulty with social interactions.

Children on the autism spectrum may exhibit subtler signs that often go unnoticed by families and doctors. These can include differences in the development of gestures, pretend play, and social language. Interestingly, despite these differences, children with autism usually sit, crawl, and walk on time.

Early Signs of Autism Examples
Limited eye contact Difficulty maintaining eye contact during interactions
Delayed speech development Limited vocabulary, difficulty forming sentences
Repetitive behaviors Repeatedly lining up toys, spinning objects
Difficulty with social interactions Struggles with sharing, lack of interest in peers
Differences in play Lack of pretend play, struggles with imagination

Importance of Early Detection

Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be apparent in children as early as 6 months, with the most prominent signs showing between 12-18 months. It is recommended to screen all 18- and 24-month-old children for ASD and other developmental disorders.

Early detection of autism is critical as it can lead to early intervention, which has been shown to significantly improve outcomes for children on the spectrum. By recognizing the signs and seeking professional help, parents can provide their child with the necessary support and resources to help them thrive.

The importance of early detection cannot be overstated. It allows for a better understanding of a child's unique strengths and challenges, and it provides the opportunity for timely and targeted interventions. These can play a significant role in enhancing the child's development and improving their quality of life.

Therapeutic Approaches for Toddlers

When it comes to supporting a 2 year old with autism, there are numerous therapeutic approaches that can be beneficial. Here, we'll delve into play-based developmental therapy and speech therapy, two significant means of aiding development in autistic toddlers.

Play-Based Developmental Therapy

Play-based developmental therapy is a child-centered approach that encourages attention, imitation, and engagement. This form of therapy aims to help children understand the power of communication and the joy of interacting with others, which is particularly important for young ones receiving treatment for autism.

An example of this type of therapy is the Readiness program at Therapeutic Pathways [2]. This program incorporates fun, engaging activities designed to foster social interaction and communication skills. The therapy sessions are designed to be enjoyable for the child, making the learning process more effective.

Early intervention for Autism, which often includes play-based developmental therapy, typically commences around as early as 2-3 years of age. This is because the brain is highly plastic at this age, allowing for better learning potential. The earlier the treatment starts, the better the prognosis for the child's development.

Speech Therapy for Autistic Toddlers

Speech therapy is another vital therapeutic approach for supporting a 2 year old with autism. This type of therapy focuses on improving the child's communication skills, an area often challenged in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Therapeutic Pathways also offers speech therapy for autistic toddlers [2]. Their program utilizes the latest research-based findings in speech and language pathology to develop customized treatment plans that suit the child's unique needs.

Research has consistently shown that early intervention for children with ASD, such as speech therapy, increases the chances of a positive outcome. This therapy can lead to improvements in overall development, social skills, self-regulation, coping skills, speech, language, communication skills, independent life skills, physical health, and quality of life [1].

Thus, both play-based developmental therapy and speech therapy are crucial therapeutic approaches for helping a 2 year old with autism. By starting early and staying consistent, these methods can greatly contribute to the child's development and quality of life.

Effective Strategies for Support

When it comes to supporting a 2-year-old with autism, there are several proven strategies that can enhance their development and well-being. Two significant areas of focus include creating a structured environment with visual supports, and involving professionals in the child's developmental journey.

Structured Environment & Visual Supports

Creating a structured environment can significantly aid in the development of a child with autism. This involves clear and consistent routines, with defined spaces for different activities. Visual supports, such as pictures or symbols, can be used to help the child understand what is expected of them at different times [4].

One effective tool is visual social stories. These are illustrations or storybooks that explain social scenarios like greetings, turn-taking, sharing, and quiet time. They can assist children with autism in comprehending social cues and norms, thus enhancing their social interaction abilities.

Furthermore, incorporating the child's interests into activities can increase their engagement and learning. Validating their attempts to communicate, whether through language, non-verbal cues, or behavior, can help parents understand their child's communication style and needs, and make the child feel heard and understood [7].

Involvement of Professionals

The involvement of professionals is crucial for providing specialized interventions and tailored strategies for children with autism. This team may include speech pathologists, occupational therapists, and psychologists, among others. Their expert knowledge can assist in designing an individualized treatment plan that addresses the child's unique needs and challenges [4].

Parent-mediated interventions have been found to be highly effective in improving communication skills and reducing autism symptoms in toddlers. These are strategies that professionals teach parents, which they can then implement in their daily interactions with their child. This approach allows for continuous support and reinforcement of learned skills in the child's natural environment.

The importance of early intervention cannot be overstated. Research shows that accessing early intervention for autism is more likely to result in positive outcomes in the future than starting intervention later in childhood or adulthood.

Supporting a 2-year-old with autism involves a multi-faceted approach. Creating a structured environment and involving professionals in the child's care are two strategies that can help set the child on a path to improved development and quality of life.

Communication in Autism

Effective communication is a crucial aspect to consider when seeking to provide support for a 2-year-old with autism. Understanding the challenges they face and employing suitable aids can significantly enhance their ability to express themselves and interact with others.

Common Communication Challenges

Children with autism often experience unique communication challenges. Some of these include mimicking or repeating other people’s words and phrases, avoiding eye contact in social situations, and failing to read social cues. They may also talk obsessively about a single subject, speak in a flat or monotone voice, or repeat words without meaning in an unusual tone, a condition known as echolalia. Using made-up words and confusing pronouns are also common among children with autism.

These challenges can vary greatly from one child to another, making it essential to understand and address each child's specific needs. Strategies like Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy can assist children with autism in modifying behaviors, overcoming social challenges, and improving communication skills, either at home or in a clinical setting.

Visual Communication Aids

To help with the common communication challenges faced by children with autism, there are several types of visual communication aids that can be employed.

Picture cards, communication boards, and Picture Exchange Communication Systems (PECS) are some of the aids that can help autistic children, especially those who are nonverbal, express their needs, wants, and emotions effectively.

Likewise, the use of technology such as communication apps and devices, including speech-generating devices (SGD), can support nonverbal or minimally verbal autistic children in creating speech and expressing themselves beyond pre-selected images.

In addition, incorporating visual social stories that explain social scenarios like greetings, turn-taking, sharing, and quiet time can help children with autism better understand social cues and norms.

In conclusion, understanding the communication challenges faced by children with autism and employing suitable visual communication aids can significantly improve their ability to express themselves and interact with others. It's crucial to remember that every child is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Always strive to discover and utilize the methods that best suit each individual child's needs.

Treatment Programs for Children

Aiding a 2-year-old with autism involves a variety of therapeutic approaches. Some of those methods include behavioral programs and educational programs, which are designed to enhance social skills and cognitive development, respectively.

Behavior Programs for Social Skills

Behavioral programs are specially designed to support children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in various aspects of their lives, including enhancing social skills, improving attention and sleep patterns, promoting play, managing anxiety, encouraging better interactions with parents, and addressing challenging behaviors. These programs can range from 12 weeks to 3 years and are conducted by specially trained providers in settings such as homes, schools, and clinics. They typically involve working with both parents and children for up to 25 hours every week.

There are several types of behavioral programs that can aid children with ASD. These include early intensive behavioral intervention, cognitive behavioral therapy, and social skills training. Each of these programs focuses on different aspects such as overall development, anxiety management, and social skills enhancement.

Education & Learning Programs

In addition to behavioral programs, educational and learning programs play a crucial role in supporting children with ASD. These programs are often offered in schools or learning centers and focus on enhancing learning and reasoning skills. The programs may be based on various approaches like TEACCH and use strategies such as applied behavior analysis (ABA) to help children manage their symptoms [8].

The selection of the right program for a child with autism depends on the child's specific needs and abilities. It is essential for parents and caregivers to work closely with healthcare providers to develop and implement an effective treatment plan. With the right support and resources, children with autism can make significant progress in their development and lead fulfilling lives.

Early Intervention for Autism

Early intervention plays a vital role in the life of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). By initiating therapeutic services as early as two or three years old, parents and caregivers can significantly improve the child's outcomes. This is especially crucial during these early years when the brain is still rapidly developing, making early intervention key to a child’s development and functioning later in life [3].

Benefits of Early Treatment

Research shows that the earlier a child receives treatment for autism, the greater the likelihood that they'll catch up to peers, learn critical social and emotional skills, and surpass any barrier to future independence. Early intervention typically commences around as early as 2-3 years of age, as the brain is highly plastic at this age, allowing for better learning potential. The earlier the treatment starts, the better the prognosis for the child's development.

Impact of Early Intervention Before 3 Years

Treatment before 3 years of age may have a greater impact than those begun after 5, according to the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. This emphasizes the importance of early detection and intervention. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can, and should be diagnosed by the age of 2, and once diagnosed, early intervention must be initiated to improve outcomes.

Recognizing Signs of Autism

Recognizing the early signs of autism is the first step towards initiating early intervention. These signs can vary from one child to another but generally include difficulties in social interaction, communication, and repetitive behaviors.

Early Signs in 2-Year-Olds

In 2-year-olds, some of the common signs of autism may include:

  • Difficulty in maintaining eye contact
  • Delayed speech development
  • Repetitive behaviors (e.g., lining up toys, repeating words or phrases)
  • Lack of interest in playing with others
  • Unusual reactions to different senses (e.g., oversensitivity or undersensitivity to sounds, textures, tastes)

Importance of Early Detection

Detecting these signs early is critical as it allows for the immediate start of early intervention therapies. The sooner a child with autism begins therapy, the better their progress will be in the long term. Early detection and intervention can greatly improve a child's ability to learn new skills, communicate, and interact with others.

In conclusion, the early years of a child's life are a critical period for detecting signs of autism and initiating early intervention therapies. By recognizing the signs and starting treatment early, parents and caregivers can greatly improve a child's outcomes and help them develop the skills they need to thrive.

References

[1]: https://www.speechimprovementcenter.com/8-importance/

[2]: https://www.tpathways.org/programs/readiness/

[3]: https://behavioral-innovations.com/blog/critical-early-intervention-children-autism-spectrum-disorder

/[4]: https://www.abtaba.com/blog/two-year-old-with-autism

[5]: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/Autism/Pages/Early-Signs-of-Autism-Spectrum-Disorders.aspx

[6]: https://www.autismspecialtygroup.com/blog/autism-communications-strategies

[7]: https://raisingchildren.net.au/autism/communicating-relationships/communicating/communication-asd

[8]: https://effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/products/autism-update/consumer