3-to 4-year old children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) were randomized into three groups within the same program: joint attention, symbolic play, and control group. An astounding 80% of the children studied with ASD, who received targeted early interventions focused on joint attention or play skills, achieved functional use of spoken language at their 5-year follow-up.
The follow-up study on the same group of children was done at age 8 to 9 years, 5 years after the treatment. Researchers found that those children who demonstrated simple combination play when they were 3 to 4 years old were able to use functional spoken language; the children who demonstrated more functional play obtained better cognitive skills; and that intervention at an earlier age yielded better spoken vocabulary scores.
Source: Kasari,C. “Study examines impact of play skills and joint attention for autism.” The Brown University Child and Adolescent Behavior Letter 28.6 (2012): 3. Print.
The child who is ‘left behind’ most is the one who leaves school without transition readiness.