Mgr. Mária Kopčíková

Early intervention is the provision of services to children with developmental delays or clear developmental disorders at the age in between 0 to 5 years. Research confirms that a child’s brain is very sensitive and receptive at this age, and it is important that identified delays are addressed as soon as possible.

Intervention is essentially an activity- – treatment, therapy, service, that improves the quality of life of a given person.

The sooner a child with ASD is given appropriate intervention, the greater the presumption/possibility that he or she can improve in the area of speech, social interaction, play or even the development of cognitive skills.

There is no treatment that can cure ASD. Autism is a lifelong disease. . However, there are procedures that help alleviate the main symptoms of the disease (autistic triad)and improve adaptive behaviour, with the age at which the child was diagnosed and the intervention started playing a key role in the long-term prognosis of the disease.

What does early intervention in autism mean?

The key to proper selection of therapy and appropriate intervention is to favour those that are “based on scientific evidence” “ (i.e., evidence based). We do not have one type of intervention for all autistic children/people, as each individual is unique in his or her needs as well as abilities.

The most common therapeutic approaches and interventions based on scientific knowledge and research can be found in the Interventions section.

Who provides early intervention?

To a large extent, these are Early Intervention Centers (EIC) ), which are located in many places in Slovakia. This social service (early intervention) is provided to families with a child under the age of 7 if his/her development is risky or endangered due to health disability. In Slovakia, early intervention as a professional activity has been provided since 2014 within the framework of social services and is regulated by Law no. 448/2008 Z.z.

The service includes specialized social counseling, social rehabilitation, stimulation of complex child development, preventive activities and community rehabilitation. It is most often provided in the child’s home environment, but sometimes also in the EIC premises.

EIC professionals (psychologists, special educators, social workers) focus mainly on supporting:

  • Parental competence and finding resources for the family,
  • Family relationship (between parents and children, between siblings)
  • Developing the child’s potential to the greatest extent possible
  • Integrating the family into the community, making connections with support groups for parents, introducing the child into suitable groups.

However, early intervention in terms of any activity or therapy that helps the child’s development is also provided by other organizations, whether public or private, in the social services system or in the health care system.

It can be, for example, special pedagogical interventions focused on the development of communication and play, psychological interventions in terms of parent education in the topics of early childhood development or speech therapy interventions focused on the development of speech.