Which autism intervention strategies are best for your child? Here are three things to avoid.

Discussion: To help your child relate, communicate, and think, it’s important to create the best intervention program available. There are a number of strategies that your child may respond positively to, but there are also interventions that you should avoid.

“Steer clear of overly structured exercises, like behavioral approaches,” Dr. Greenspan proposes. “That’s not a natural way of learning, especially with a little baby,” he counsels. “It could really undermine a baby’s nervous system.” Approaches that are natural, healthy and appropriate for a neurotypical child are called for, especially with very young children. “You can do more of what’s natural and healthy and do it in an innovative way,” says Dr. Greenspan.

Something else to avoid? Daycare. Group daycare is bad for children who are at risk for autism – there are not enough caregivers per child, and the child does not get the sustained engagement that is necessary for healthy development.

The other advice Dr. Greenspan dispenses is common sense: “Do not expose the baby to toxic chemicals; pay attention to cleaners, paints, and mold. Don’t unnecessarily expose the baby to any toxins of any kind.”

From the early intervention point of view, avoid overly structured exercises like that recommended by behavioral approaches because that’s not national natural way of learning. I really worry about preventive intervention work for children from strategies like the conditioning strategies, the drill oriented things to get the baby to look or to get the baby to repeat certain sounds. That could really undermine a young baby’s nervous system. That worries me be very very deeply, and I’d rather see preventive work not done because that’s not natural.

You know I don’t recommend it for older children with special needs but there I know often it may not result in good progress but without any negative effects. But for babies, it could create serious negative effects. So the principle is only do approaches that are natural that would help a normal healthy child. Don’t create unnatural ways of learning. You can do more of what’s natural and healthy and do it in a more Innovative way to transform that natural ability.

Group group daycare is a no-no for children at risk because in the group daycare environment, you have four babies for one caregiver. You can’t do the kind of sustained engagement, sustained back and forth interactions you’d like to do. It’s just like a mom with quadruplets. It’s going to be impossible even with the most gifted caregivers in the best daycare centers.

It’s just simply a ticket to increase the risk. So getting help at home, maybe from a neighborhood person who’s only taking care of one or two children and really will be devoted to the baby if a mother needs to work. You need a very low ratio situation, a one on two situation. You can look for a working situation from either yourself, relatives, grandparents, a neighbor, someone who’s going to help and not going to let the child for hours be on their own making matters worse.

Another no-no is exposing the baby to toxic chemicals. You don’t do floors that give off odors, which have petrochemical solvents in the room. You don’t expose the baby to things that they can ingest.

Dr. Stanley Greenspan

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