When Autism is a Delay and When It's Not
By: Patrick McGreevy, PhD, BCBA-D
Early intervention for children with autism often begins with an assumption that gaps in their current skill repertoire are simply delays in typical skill development. This assumption then leads to the use of developmental curricula like the VB-MAPP, the ABLLS, or the Early Start Denver Model, which specify those gaps in the context of typically-developing children. Instruction is then directed toward filling in those gaps, thereby eliminating those delays and permitting children to 'catch up' to their typically-developing peers. As most children with autism become older, it will become apparent that those gaps cannot be filled in despite high-quality instruction. What were once referred to as 'delays', are actually experienced as 'barriers', which are almost impossible to overcome and which necessitate a life skills curriculum.