Early intervention best hope for autistic children

National 2 minutes, 9 seconds


EARLY intervention for children with autism is their best hope for the future, said Dr James W Partington yesterday at a seminar held in conjunction with the Autism Awareness Month.

“Do not wait, act now,” advised the psychologist.

Partington, director of Behaviour Analysts, Inc, delivered a talk at the seminar entitled “How to Change Challenging Behaviour and Develop Critical Language and Social Skills”.

Yesterday’s seminar highlighted the significance of early intervention, especially in improving the core behavioural symptoms of autism, as it will give the child born with autism and the rest of the family several benefits.

Partington said while it is never too late for an intervention, the “wait-and-see approach” until the child enters school at age four or five will not benefit either parties (parents and the child).

“An early intervention has several benefits as it will provide your child with instruction that will build on his or her strengths to acquire new skills, improve behaviours, and remedy areas of weakness. It will provide you with information that will help you better understand your child’s behaviour and needs,” explained the specialist.

He went on to say that parents with children diagnosed with autism can help their children cope better by making sure they are healthy, teaching them critical skills, and by developing patterns of behaviour.

“Parents become desperate when they find out that their child is diagnosed with autism. They will go out of their way to get help for their child and to be honest, most of them may not know what they are doing,” Partington said.

The psychologist added that to improve the situation of an autistic child, an intervention programme should be implemented as soon as possible after receiving a diagnosis.

However, Partington said teaching young children with autism can be quite challenging for parents and educators, but that they must not lose hope and must be patient when caring for them.

He advised participants to study and figure out what triggers the child’s “bad” or disruptive behaviours, and what prompts a positive response.

Parents or educators must know what their autistic child finds stressful, calming, uncomfortable and enjoyable, he said.

“If you understand what affects your child, you’ll be better at overcoming problems and preventing situations that cause difficulties,” he said.

The autism seminar was attended by more than 200 participants from the government sector, non-profit organisations, educators and parents.

The event was organised by Norazimah Hj Raub, Kathy Lim and Dino Trakakis of Autism Recovery Network, Singapore in collaboration with the Pusat Ehsan Al-Ameerah Al-Hajjah Maryam.

The Brunei Times