ELG’s early intervention program focuses on play-based interactions that encourage shared, or joint, attention and communication. This model is developed from a multidisciplinary approach that incorporates input from occupational therapy, speech-language therapy, applied behavioral analysis, psychology, and special education.
Research shows that early intervention not only helps our children now, but long into their adult years. It is particularly important for improved learning, social skills, and daily function. Early intervention can start as young as 18 months old, which is the earliest age a reliable autism diagnosis can be given. Proper guidance at a young age, when brain plasticity is at its highest, gives us a stronger chance of changing how a child’s brain will develop. Studies show that the best outcomes result from 30-40 hours of treatment per week. ELG offers a full-time early intervention program.
However, what exactly does early intervention look like in practice? We hope that sharing a peek into a day in the life of Gina, our early intervention program facilitator, will give our readers a clearer idea!
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Arrival – The children start to arrive and go straight into our movement room to let off some steam before the program day starts. This morning I played with two of them on the trampoline, modelling words to use when we are excited! It’s a good morning workout for me too!
Circle time – We start by singing good morning and saying hello to everyone. I love seeing them grow in confidence and get excited when it is their turn to greet their friends! We sing familiar nursery rhymes in English and Chinese with lots of actions. When children first join us, they often do not enjoy circle time and tend to copy very few of the actions, but when they become more familiar with the songs, it’s great to see them imitate and have fun. They surprise me each day with their new skills!
Group time – We have individual and group sessions on speech and language, occupational therapy and physical therapy throughout the week. Today they will take part in group speech sessions. Ms. Vicky directs everyone to assemble in a line. The learners then pass a ball all the way from the first person to the last. The last child will then throw the ball into the bucket. I help to motivate those at the end of the line to wait nicely until it is their turn to move up. It is lovely to see the group working together.
Snack – Before eating snacks we practice washing our hands; every part of our day is an opportunity for learning! At snack time our learners request what they want to eat using words or pictures. One child has just started using Proloqu2go on the iPad to ask for food. The app gives him a voice to ask for what he wants instead of us guessing.
Individual instruction time – Next, we move to individual workstations. Every day I work one-on-one with our learners on their individual targets. Today I am working on teaching colors, body parts and fine motor skills with clothes pegs.
Play skills – I often hear parents say their child doesn’t want to play with toys. I find that they do want to play, they just don’t know how to. This week we are focusing on functional play with cars. First, we play with the cars in shaving foam to engage everybody. It’s messy but also a lot of fun! Next, we dry the cars off and put them into a garage.
Lunch – We have a great catering team that serves a cooked lunch everyday. This gives them plenty of opportunity to try different food groups and textures.
Recess – After lunch we spend some time in the movement room. It’s a chance for them to explore their environment and interact with other children. I setup different activities from our OT group to complete at the end of recess. The obstacle course is a favorite!
Self-help skills – This week we are working on helping them learn how to wash their hands independently. Today we made our hands super messy by using paint to create handprints, whilst listening to music. We then practiced handwashing. Everyone was excited to get their hands messy again!
Art – Our learners are very creative and I enjoy giving them the space to express themselves. Today we are working on cutting and sticking different pieces of paper onto shapes. Our program room is decorated with their colorful artwork!
Goodbye circle – Our day ends by singing goodbye to everyone and packing our bags ready to go home.
I send updates to the parents every day with what we have learned and what skills they can practice at home.
We then get ready for another exciting day tomorrow.