In Ukraine, early intervention for children with disabilities, including autistic kids, can be started from 1 year of age.
Our ‘Child with Future’ kindergarten, which has combined the world’s best practices and created its own approaches to work with special preschool children for the last 10 years, has already had the practice of such intervention. Previously, only Israeli specialists could boast of such practice.
According to director Natalya Struchek, only a year ago the kindergarten was opening its doors to 2-tears-old children. As for the younger ones, the specialists only counseled the family. However, world experience has shown that early intervention from the age of 1 gives amazing results – chance for special children to develop on a par with their peers.
“We work closely with Israeli specialists. They have been practicing early intervention for a long time and do it not even from the age of 1, but even earlier. Israeli specialists can understand the degree of a child’s development from as early as five months of age. And if he or she falls into a risk group for a particular developmental diagnosis, they begin to work with a child. As the Israeli experience has shown, 75% of children who started early intervention at the age of 1, then developed according to the classical model and did not get a ‘special’ diagnosis,” says Natalia Struchek.
Specialists emphasize: such an approach is extremely important to identify potential disorders as early as possible and support the child in time, so as not to face the ‘diagnosis’ later. If parents are observant and suspect that something is wrong with the child, it is better not to wait until the age of 3, as is often advised, but to seek counseling. “The earlier we work together to discover even the slightest peculiarities in your child’s development, the more chances they will not receive autism, alalia, or any other mental disorder in the future,” the director noted.
Today Ukrainians know more about autism and other disorders, do not hide children and try to help them on time. Previously, kids were brought to kindergarten closer to school age, but now parents come at the age of 2-3 years. In particular, the share of 2-year-old children has increased. According to developmental charts, a child of 1 to 2 years of age improves his or her skills of self-care, social relations, fine motor skills, and imitation by 400% after a systematic 6-month work. A 3-4-year-old child improves the same skills by 200%. A 5-6-year-old child – by 70-80%. We are talking about average data because all children are different and develop at their own rate.
“Working with 1-year-old kids is quite difficult and easy at the same time. Difficult because it’s scary for both specialists and parents because it’s a very young child. Simple – because we understand that the child’s brain at this age is ductile, it absorbs new skills like a sponge, parents learn together with the child and do not make mistakes which at 4-5-year-old age are needed to work with separately,” said Natalia Struchek.
She encouraged parents to watch their children, to know what skills and at what age they should have, and if they have any suspicions to contact specialists. The earlier help is available to the child, the more chances to change the situation without consequences.