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Early Intervention Services and Strategies for Parents of Children with Autism . Colleen Mick, M.Ed. & Wendy Florick, M.A., CCC-SLP. Early Intervention Services. Colleen Mick, M.Ed. colleen@starfish.nwsc.k12.ar.us. Public Education.

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Early Intervention Services and Strategies for Parents of Children with Autism

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Early Intervention Services and Strategies for Parents of Children withAutism

Colleen Mick, M.Ed.


Wendy Florick, M.A., CCC-SLP

Early Intervention Services

Colleen Mick, M.Ed.


Public Education

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), mandates that each state provide all eligible children with a public education that meets their individual needs.

Early Intervention Services

Ages 0 - 3

Early Intervention Services

  • Vary widely from state to state

  • Provided free of cost

  • Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP)

  • Focus is on the overall development

  • Services for families

Why Early Intevention?

  • Therapies and behavioral interventions are designed to improve symptoms.

  • Most professionals agree the earlier the intervention, the better.

  • Minimize the impacts of the disability on the child.


Ages 3 through 5


  • Early Childhood Special Education Services are activities designed to enhance the development of the child (3-5).

  • Focus becomes about “education”.

  • The services are provided as needed at no cost to the family.


  • A child may be eligible for special services if he/she is age 3 through 5 and is experiencing difficulties which interfere with normal development in these areas:

     speech/language vision

     hearing motor skills

     self help skills behavioral/social skills

     cognition/readiness skills


  • Comprehensive Evaluation

    • Screening Instruments

    • Observations

    • Assessments

    • Questionnaires

  • Classification

    • Medical vs. Educational

Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)

  • Key word “appropriate”

  • Educational progress

  • Build a partnership with the school


  • Speech Therapy

  • Educational Services

  • Occupational Therapy

  • Physical Therapy

  • Behavioral Intervention

  • Other Appropriate Services

Developing an IEP (Individualized Education Plan)

  • Type of service

  • Amount of Time

  • Place of service

  • Modifications to general education environment

  • Supports


  • Itinerant based (i.e., speech/language therapy)

  • Community based preschool

  • Special class (designed primarily for children with disabilities)

  • Specialized day service center (DDTCS or CHMS)

  • home based instruction

  • hospital/residential instruction

Programs for Children 3-5

  • Contact your local school district or

    • NWAESC

      Early Childhood Program http://starfish.k12.ar.us

      4 N. Double Springs Rd.

      Farmington, AR 72730

      (479) 267-5960

    • DDTCS

      • Richardson Center479-443-4420

      • Benton County Sunshine School 479-636-3190

    • CHMS

      • Kids First 479-750-0130

      • MiChild 479-839-3349

Other Resources

  • Early Intervention Services (Birth – 3)

    • Richardson Center

    • Benton County Sunshine School

    • First Connections - Early Intervention Service Coordinators

      • Artie Herndon (479-527-9145) Benton, Boone, Carroll, Madison, Marion, Newton, Washington

      • Bettye Starkey (501-730-9978) Faulkner

      • Amy Causey (479-968-5596

  • Arkansas Support Network

    • Phone: (479) 927-4100Toll Free: (800) 748-9768

Strategies for Working with Young Children with Autism

Wendy Florick, M.A., CCC-SLP



  • 1. Sensory

  • 2. Visual Supports

  • 3. Language/Social Interaction

Sensory Difficulties

Making sense of your senses!

Sensory Processing Disorder

  • “Sensory Processing Disorder is the inability to use information received through the senses in order to function smoothly in daily life.”

  • Carol Kranowitz, The Out-of-Sync Child

Common Symptoms

  • Avoids Touch or Movement; May Be Rigid and Uncoordinated

  • Unaware of Messy Face, Hands or Clothes

  • Craves Fast Spinning and Movement

  • Oversensitive to Lights or Sounds

  • Is Attracted to Shiny, Spinning Objects or Bright Lights

  • Objects to or Seeks Strong Smells or Tastes

  • A Child’s Unusual Responses to Touching and Being Touched or Moving and Being Moved

Why is it important?

  • Sensory needs must be met for the child to make sense of his environment and be available to learn.

  • Behaviors that develop to meet sensory needs can interfere with everyday activities and social interaction.

Proprioceptive (Heavy Work) vs Vestibular (Movement)

  • Heavy Work

  • Riding on a tricycle

  • Pumping a swing

  • Little Tykes-style car

  • Movement

  • Riding in a wagon

  • Pushed on a swing

  • Remote control car

Child controls movement

Movement is done to child

Strategies for Movement Needs

  • Sensory diet

    • Plan activities throughout the day to regulate the child

      • climbing, jumping (mini trampoline), obstacle course, dancing, outside play, swinging

      • important to prepare for times when child needs to be sitting or has been in a car for an extended time

      • it’s not a pill that makes the need for activity go away-it is like being hungry in that you eat but then you are hungry again

      • just as important for underactive as overactive children

Specific Strategies for Common Problems

  • Over-responsive to noise-

    • try child earphones

  • Difficulty sitting for activities-

    • weighted lap pad

    • use a rocking chair or hoppity ball

  • Seems unaware of where he is in space-

    • try putting a pound of rice or beans in his backpack (He carries, not you!)

    • use deep pressure when you hug or interact with the child

    • try massage to bring body awareness

Visual Supports

Use your child’s strengths

Why use visual supports?

  • Many children (and adults) learn best when they can see as well as hear

  • Auditory processing difficulties are very common in children with autism

  • For children who are resistant to verbal directions, it directs the child without a power struggle (It’s hard to be angry at a picture!)

Types of Visual Supports

  • Visual Schedules

    • for daily activities such as going to school, eating dinner, taking a bath, etc.

    • for specific activities like washing hands

  • Timers

    • for staying with an activity

    • for waiting for activities or taking turns

Types of Visual Supports

  • If/Then Book

    • shows your child what will happen if they complete an activity (wash your hands, then snack)

    • helps to teach the important concept of work, then play

  • Stop signs

    • shows your child what is off limits

Language and Social Interaction

Core deficit areas for children with autism

Language is Giving and Receiving

  • Points to “cat” when asked

  • Follows directions

  • Understands big/little

  • Answers questions by pointing

  • Names “cat”

  • Asks for a drink

  • “Big car”

  • Answers questions verbally

Receptive Language

Expressive Language

Receptive Strategies

  • Following Directions

    • Give prompts, then fade.

      • Full physical prompt

      • Partial physical prompt

      • Visual prompt

      • Independent

Expressive Language Strategies

  • Play “dumb”

    • try not to anticipate wants and needs

    • give the wrong item or act like you don’t know what is wanted

  • Place favorite items in sight but out of reach of child

    • put favorite items in containers that are difficult to open

    • if nonverbal, use pictures or photographs for child to use to request (Picture Exchange Communication System or PECS)

Expressive Language Strategies

  • Challenge with questions

    • “Why do you want to go outside?” “ What are you going to do outside?”

    • increases interaction time

  • Teach answering questions

    • ask question, then give choices, giving most likely first (“What do you want to eat? Do you want crackers or broccoli?”)

    • ask question, pause, then ask again and give the answer (“Who is coming home soon? Who is coming home soon? Daddy is!”)

Interaction Strategies

  • Be playfully obstructive

    • if child lines up cars, drive a car away or crash into the cars

    • if child drives train around and around the track, use your hand to block the progress and wait for a response

    • challenge, but make it fun!

  • Sit face to face and draw attention to your eyes

    • place toys up to your eyes

    • put toys on your head

Interaction Strategies

  • Work in pairs

    • have a sibling or another adult sit behind your child to help with rolling a ball or pushing a car back and forth

  • Work on imitation skills

    • imitate what your child does

    • fingerplays and movement songs are great for teaching imitation

  • Be animated, excited; woo your child


  • The Child With Special Needs by Stanley Greenspan and Serena Wieder

  • Engaging Autism by Stanley Greenspan and Serena Wieder

  • The Out-of-Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz

  • www.do2learn.com (free black and white pictures)

  • www.mayer-johnson.com (Boardmaker, Download Free Trial)

  • www.pecs.com (picture exchange communication system)

  • www.abilitations.com for swings, weighted lap belts and other sensory equipment

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