Early childhood intervention for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are supposed to bring about positive and beneficial changes to the learning, growth and development of children under three years of age. This program is mandatory and provided by the state and federal government in the United States free of charge. However, issues remain to swamp the constructive image of early childhood intervention and question the quality of service provided by the government, the unfairness in evaluating eligible medical conditions, and the costs of paying for these services.
The two conflicting points being presented about early childhood intervention, especially in ASD will be discussed in the following statements. The United States Government has implemented an Early Childhood Intervention program (ECI) in all states in country through the binding legislation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA.
(DARS, 2008a) This program aspires to provide a government funded service for families with newly-born babies up to three year-olds who suffer delays in growth and development and several disabilities, including widely-known diseases and disabilities, specifically medical conditions that belong to ASD, such as autism, pervasive development disorder – not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and aspergy syndrome. (DARS, 2008b) This program was implemented in the state and federal government of the country.
The services they provide for families include free assessment and evaluation to be able to verify who are fitting, in terms of urgency and intensity of need, to be included under the program and undergo free services provided by the government and local institutions alike. For those families who can afford to pay for the services that they can gain from ECI, they are requested to fund their own needs in order for ECI to allocate free services to those families who are in dire need of financial and institutional support.
To take this policy into effect, the capacity of the family to pay for services are assessed through the evaluation of household income, family size, intensity of the medical condition, and other aspects vital to ECI’s screening of family participants under their free services. (DARS, 2008a) ECI supports this program because of their mission to lessen and prevent the incidences of development delays and profound disabilities in children who belong to the early childhood population, specifically children who are under three years of age.
For ECI, early prevention, detection, and intervention are instrumental in the eradication of profoundly detrimental medical conditions in later years of life and preventing the occurrence of these conditions even before conception. (DARS, 2008a) Families who have been granted eligible under the services of ECI gain access to various useful and beneficial services for children including the identification, screening, and evaluation of various medical conditions, family counseling, educational discussions and informative sessions, psychological guidance and services, and other therapies for each disability or developmental delay.
All these services are free of cost if the families who were screened and evaluated belong under the State or Federal Poverty Level. (DARS, 2008c) In addition, the services that ECI offers are specifically designed to provide for the growth and developmental needs of children in all aspects of life to ensure progressive learning and development. (DARS, 2008c) Studies conducted on the implementation of ECI for ASD reveal some valuable information regarding the advantages and disadvantages, long-term effects, costs, and risks that comes along with the employment of ECI services.
According to Naida Grant, the administration of ECI to children with ASD’s plays a vital role in the enhancement and development of their skills and abilities especially in their capability to succeed and accomplish goals and objectives in later years of life. Moreover, early intervention brings about desirable and perceptible outcomes in the behavior, growth, learning, and development because their young minds are still receptive and responsive to new knowledge and information. (Kantz, 2008)
ECI claims to be the leading advocate of early childhood intervention and development and upholds the importance of early prevention, detection, and intervention of ASD, as well as several other medical conditions and disabilities in children below three years of age. They also claim to provide free services for those families who have been assessed to urgently need these kinds of services without paying for it. However, there are certain issues that are involved with the implementation of this program. One disadvantage involved in the implementation of ECI to children diagnosed with ASD is the limited services that they provide.
According to research and studies conducted by experts and professionals, children diagnosed with ASD need twenty five to thirty hours every week of therapy sessions, therapy as provided by ECI however at a less number of hours per week. The availability of therapies and sessions for children that meets the target limit, mentioned above, is the threshold wherein success and progress takes place that facilitates the child’s accomplishment of his goals and objectives, and makes him eligible for inclusion in the normal educational setting.
ECI argues that they limit their services to merely twenty hours because of the high cost of therapies to alleviate the effects of ASD to the child’s growth, learning and development. After twenty hours of service, ECI requests parents to continue therapy outside the time that ECI allocates for free services. However, parents and other members of the family complain about the costs of early childhood intervention. (Kiritsis, 2007)
The will of parents to provide quality instructional materials, services and therapy drives to spend, even their savings and retirement money just to meet this goal. In addition to this, the limitations of ECI also extend to the duration of time wherein the services will be available for children diagnosed with ASD. Apparently, these children will be sent to schools after the three-year period of providing for their needs, regardless of the extent and intensity of their development and progress during their treatment and therapy.
For these types of cases, close monitoring of the acquired skills and abilities should be administered to ensure that the assumptions about the effects of therapies and treatments materialized through change in behavior and way of thinking of the child. (Kiritis, 2007) The services that ECI provides are not substantial enough to meet their goals and objectives of lessening the nonstandard characteristics of children diagnosed with ASD. It is their goal however to affect learning, development, and progress through the services that they provide.
Therefore, studies conducted by three professionals suggested that early intervention adhere to some guidelines that would bring about long-term developmental changes to the children. ECI should be administered a wide-range occurring in all aspects of various medical conditions no matter how small or big the intensity of the condition may be, and should also be meted out in long periods of time. (Jacobson, Mulick, & Green, 1998) The extensive effects of ECI services are limited depending on the intensity of medical condition and the length of time when these services will be available for all.
At times, ECI administered therapies affect good results to children’s later life, however, other cases prove otherwise increasing the cost of ASD therapies. Perhaps the standpoint regarding ECI is relative to the families’ need and expected outcomes. Works Cited DARS. (2008a). “What is ECI? ” Retrieved from Texas Online. Mar 16 2008. <http://www. dars. state. tx. us/ecis/index. shtml> DARS. (2008b). “ECI Medical Diagnoses. ” Retrieved from Texas Online. Mar 16 2008 <http://www. dars.
state. tx. us/ecis/resources/diagnoses. asp? letter=a> DARS. (2008c). “ECI Services and Eligibility. ” Retrieved from Texas Online. Mar 16 2008. < http://www. dars. state. tx. us/ecis/eligibility. shtml> Jacobson, John W. , Mulick, James A. , Green, Gina. (1998). “SUMMARY:Cost-benefit Estimates for Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention for Young Children with Autism. ” Retrieved from The Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies. Mar 16 2008. <http://www. behavior. org/autism/index. cfm?
page=http%3A//www. behavior. org/autism/autism_costbenefit. cfm> Kantz, Beth. (Feb 2008). “Autism Spectrum Disorders: Earlier Screening for Early Intervention. ” Retrieved from Ganett Healthcare Group. Mar 16 2008. <http://include. nurse. com/apps/pbcs. dll/article? AID=/20080211/NATIONAL01/80207013/-1/frontpage> Kiritsis, Tony. (May 2007). “Autism challenging for all. ” Retrieved from Autism Reality. Mar 16 2008. < http://autismrealitynb. wordpress. com/category/autism-society-new-brunswick/>