Post written by Dr. Ken Macurik, Director of Developmental Disabilities at St. Joseph’s Villa and Doctoral Level Board Certified Behavior Analyst
Modern research shows that early behavioral services may improve overall functioning and produce significant gains in IQ for children with autism who enter treatment at 2 to 3 years of age. With the recommended screening age for autism spectrum disorders recently being lowered to 18 months, there is an increased need to identify treatment approaches that are effective for this younger age group.
The Villa’s new Early Autism Services program is the first of its kind in Central Virginia that addresses this need. We serve children ages 2 to 6 who have a medical diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, and we base our methods in best-practice Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA). Depending on a child’s individualized service plan (ISP), a session may include: structured training, pivotal response training, imitation exercises, play therapy, socialization and parental involvement. These treatments at an early age can increase social, communication, and academic skills for children with autism, and in the long run improve their overall quality of life.
Screening at a young age as well as the role of the pediatrician have become even more critical as we have recognized the stability of early diagnosis over time and the importance of providing early services. For information about how the Villa’s Early Autism Services can potentially benefit your child, please contact Craig Hedley, Director of Community Partnerships, at 804-553-3226 to learn more or schedule a personal tour.