Pre-School Interventions and Autism

The term pre-school educational intervention is very wide ranging and means different things to different people.

In practice it tends to mean any intervention which is aimed at pre-school children (between the ages of 2 and 5) and which is delivered in an educational setting (such as a nursery)  or which aims to educate, that is, teach or develop, preschool children.

So some preschool interventions, such as portage, are aimed at pre-school children and their parents but actually take place in the family home. 

There is a huge overlap between educational interventions and other types of intervention, especially Behavioural and Developmental Interventions and Parent Training and Support Programmes (most of which use one or more behavioural or developmental techniques).

Specific preschool interventions include

  • a range of early intensive behavioural interventions such as the UCLA YAP model: intervention based on the idea that autistic children struggle to understand and to communicate with other people, and react to such frustrations with tantrums and other challenging behaviours.The therapy team therefore constructs a teaching environment that is designed to maximise the child's success and minimise failure.
  • the Early Start Denver Model: aims to optimise relationships in the family and teach new, adaptive skills that allow children greater control, autonomy, competence, and personal satisfaction within their social experiences. A multi-disciplinary treatment group devises a personalised treatment plan for each child, which is delivered in the home and elsewhere by the parents of the child.
  • the Hanen Programmes: parent education prgrammes for parents of children on the autism spectrum run by the Hanen Centre in Ontario, Canada. The programmes teach parents to detect and respond appropriately to the individual child's attempts to communicate however subtle, strange or even challenging these attempts may appear.
  • LEAP (an acronym for Learning Experiences - An Alternative Program for Preschoolers and Parents): an educational programme in which small groups of children with autism are taught alongside a small number of typically developing children. LEAP is based on the idea that children with autism will learn better in integrated settings alongside their typically developing peers provided that those peers have been taught how to help them.
  • the NAS Early Bird programmes: parent-training programme run by the National Autistic Society in the UK. It combines group training sessions for parents with individual home visits when video feedback is used to help parents apply what they learn, whilst working with their child.
  • Portage: an intervention service that aims to support families who have young children with additional needs in their own homes. The children are taught new skills through the use of questions and tasks, prompts, and rewards. Parents and carers are shown how to apply this system by a weekly or fortnightly visit from a Portage home visitor.
  • TEACCH - preschool child programme: approach is based on understanding the culture of autism (the characteristic patterns of thinking and behaviour seen in individuals with autism). It is also based around developing an individualised person (and family)-centred plan for each client or student, rather than using a standard curriculum

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12 Feb 2019