Early Intervention for Autism Spectrum and other Developmental Disorders

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What is early intervention?

Early intervention refers to the notion that the earlier the intervention in a child’s developmental difficulties, the better the outcomes achieved.

Why is early intervention more effective than “later” intervention?

Early childhood involves rapid development of neural structures and social, cognitive and self-regulatory abilities. Early intervention takes advantage of a “window of opportunity”. Also, developmental difficulties when left untreated will compound into other problems.

Is it always the case that developmental difficulties compound into other problems?

The “window of opportunity” never closes completely, but learning earlier is often much easier and more fun. When children experience the challenges of their environment to be overwhelming, they can lose heart and give up, or divert their energies into avoidance techniques and problem behaviours. Receiving the right sort of help at the right time can not only help a child in their specific areas of weakness and prevent the development of secondary problems – it can lead to a more resilient attitude to overcoming life’s adversities through personal effort and using the help available to them.

Will almost any kind of intervention be effective during the “window of opportunity”?

Parents are often surprised to learn that many popular and well-promoted treatments for children with autism spectrum disorders lack evidence for their effectiveness outside of the promoters of the scheme. An ineffective treatment is a waste of the window.

Effective, empirically validated early interventions offered at Parks Clinic for children with autism, Asperger’s syndrome and other pervasive developmental disorders include the following:

  • Developmental and social learning interventions – building relationships and development of social emotional capacities;
  • Therapy-based interventions – communication and social development or sensory motor development; and
  • Family-based interventions – working with families to develop skills in working with their children.

The interventions are provided by a multi-disciplinary team of clinical psychologist, occupational therapists  and a speech pathologist. Dr Luiker appears on the Australian Psychological Society’s list of psychologists identified as having training and experience in the assessment and treatment of autism and other Pervasive Developmental Disorders.

The interventions can take place at the Clinic, at the pre-school/kindergarten/school, or at home.

We tailor individual programs to suit the needs of each child and family, and collaborate with paediatricians, child psychiatrists and other health and education professionals.

Assistance from the Australian Government

The Australian Government offers early intervention services through two key programs:

Parks Clinic is a panel member for both programs. It is also the lead agency in the Parks Clinic Early Intervention Consortium, the largest consortium of independent early intervention professionals registered to offer either or both programs in metropolitan and regional NSW and Victoria.

In addition, the clinicians at Parks Clinic are registered to provide the Medicare items introduced in July 2008 as part of the Helping Children with Autism program.


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