Why is it important to get an autism diagnosis as early as possible?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 14,558
    Autism expert Peggy Halliday discusses the importance of an early diagnosis of autism in children.

    Peggy Halliday

    Peggy Halliday is a board certified associate behavior analyst who has specialized in autism education for the past ten years. She is the Director of Outreach Services at the Virginia Institute of Autism (VIA) in Charlottesville, VA. VIA is a non-profit organization which provides a day school and other resources for families, educators, and other professionals seeking services, training or information about autism and evidence-based interventions. The Institute operates a year-round school for students ages 2-22, a 700-volume library, training workshops, internships for undergraduate and graduate students and teachers, and customized trainings for schools. Peggy supervises a wide range of outreach services, including development and supervision of comprehensive, home-based early intervention programs incorporating naturalistic, incidental, and structured teaching using the principles of applied behavior analysis; training for parents and home instructors; skills assessments, functional behavior assessments and intervention plans, and consultation on Individual Education Plan goals. She has presented trainings and workshops at state and national conferences.

    Host: Why is it important to get an autism diagnosis as early as possible?

    Peggy Halliday: Early Intervention Services require a medical diagnosis of autism in order to get the services. So, if you delay your autism diagnosis, you are delaying your early intervention. At a time when a child's brain is still developing this is from all our research we know that we can make the most impact on a child's learning if we start teaching them intensively when they are very young. So, by delaying the autism diagnosis we are missing out some very critical teaching time. Sometime when we are probably going to be more effective in teaching a young child with autism than at any other time in their life.