Early Intervention Speech, Occupational, ABA Therapy Preparing Wave of People With Autism for Workforce
As rates of autism diagnoses climb steadily, roughly 500,000 teens with autism are poised to enter the workforce over the next decade, according to advocates at Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism. Yet the majority of those people with autism struggle to land their first job, and 4 in 10 won’t work at all in their 20s. The spectrum is incredibly broad, so each comes to the table with their own strengths and challenges, but there is no question those who receive early intervention ABA therapy, speech and language therapy and occupational therapy fare much better long-term.
Last year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated autism prevalence rates by 15 percent to 1 in 59 children. That’s more than double what the rate was in 2000. Part of this has to do with improved awareness, earlier diagnoses and improved treatment models. Research published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health indicated early diagnosis (before 24 months, as early as 12 months) leads to earlier eligibility for intervention services (like ABA therapy), and other evidence-based research has indicated clear indication early intervention is causally related to better prognoses – including success in education and employment.
The AFFA reports that while most adults with autism want to work, fewer than 60 percent can land a job. The Americans With Disabilities Act prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of disability. Yet an adult deprived of early intervention therapies as a child has missed out on a critical development window to address significant challenges associated with everyday function and independence. This isn’t to say it’s ever entirely “too late” to initiate intervention strategies, but our ABA therapy team members know it’s most effective when it starts before age 5 (and the earlier the better).
Individuals With Autism Grapple With Challenges Landing, Keeping Jobs
As our ABA therapy providers at FOCUS Therapy in Fort Myers can explain, autism is a type of neurological development disorder impacting how people communicate and interact with other people. Some might come across as withdrawn, disruptive or unsympathetic. They might struggle to engage in key workforce skills, like accepting constructive feedback, collaborating or just maintaining the normal flow of conversation (which impedes professional networking as well as day-to-day tasks). They may have repetitive habits or routines that employers or co-workers may find strange or difficult to understand.
But just like a person with back problems may require special accommodations like ergonomic keyboards or special seating, people with autism can be given reasonable accommodation that allows them to be successful at work. But that’s often still only if they’ve had effective early intervention strategies to help them get to that point.
Research by the University of Washington’s Autism Center, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry followed children with autism over the course of 20 years, and found those who had received early intervention like ABA therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy (beginning at 18 to 30 months, at least 15 hours weekly for two years) resulted in children who made gains in intellectual ability and language and showed new areas of progress in reduced autism symptoms. Starting one-to-one interventions as soon as symptoms emerged was key.
Compared to children with autism who did not receive this kind of intense, early intervention treatment, those who did tested higher on IQ scores, had improved adaptive function and communication and (to researchers’ surprise) most of them continued to make gains even after therapy ended. The fact that it was both early and intense made all the difference.
Our ABA therapy providers are committed to helping give your child with autism all the tools he or she needs to maximize their chances for success.
FOCUS offers pediatric ABA therapy in Fort Myers and throughout Southwest Florida. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.
Early intervention improves long-term outcomes for children with autism, June 9, 2015, University of Washington’s Autism Center
More Blog Entries:
After the NICU: Preemies Excel With Early Intervention Therapy Age 0 to 5, Feb. 26, 2019, Fort Myers ABA Therapy Blo