A new start for young students with autism is possible thanks to a program that helps their families. However, high costs and few resources are a challenge from the beginning.
Maine’s Child Development Services have a new program that supports families of young children with autism. Caregivers work with children one on one, in their homes. The program is called Early Start Maine.
Three days a week, Kris West works with a 2 year old boy who was diagnosed with autism a year ago. They sit together, piece together puzzles, and sing songs. West is gently exposing the child to new social experiences while having fun.
“Kids 0-3 really need that relationship, play-based model,” says Deborah Rooks-Ellis, the director of the Maine Autism Institute. “And the earlier you catch a child with a need, there is research to back up that they’ll need less services later in life. So it’s really important.”