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Early intervention critical for autism: expert

A leading autism expert has reiterated the importance of early intervention for children with autism.

Benison O’Reilly, co-author of the Australian Autism Handbook, stressed the importance of individualised and intensive early intervention treatments for children diagnosed with autism as vital for their future development.

“It’s a bit of a buzzword these days about neuroplasticity – the fact that we can actually change the brain a bit by working hard with it,” O’Reilly said. “That’s why it’s really important to get to these children early and start working with them intensively and hopefully make some sort of changes to their development.”

She said 15 to 20 hours a week of intensive treatment is ideal but acknowledged treatments are expensive and often hard to access outside of metropolitan areas. She said while government funding did go some way to help families, it is often not enough. She recommended Queensland’s model of early intervention be rolled out for the nation.

“One of the good programs is in Queensland, with the AEIOU centres, where they have childcare centres that incorporate an early intervention program,” O’Reilly said. “I think that would be the ideal model for Australia.”

Click below to hear more from Benison O’Reilly.

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