Early Intervention Key to Treating Autism; April is Autism Awareness Month


Autism occurs in approximately one in every 150 individuals. The number of diagnosed cases has increased dramatically in the past decade. Although there is no cure, early diagnosis and treatment have a significant impact on future progress.

“Studies at May Institute and other organizations show that children who start treatment at the earliest possible age require less intensive and restrictive services later,” explains Dennis Russo, Ph.D., ABPP, Chief Clinical Officer at May Institute. “It’s important for parents, pediatricians, preschool teachers, and other caretakers to understand the symptoms of developmental disabilities and to move quickly on diagnosis and treatment.”

The symptoms of autism include:

  • no babbling, pointing, or meaningful gestures by 1 year of age
  • no one-word communications by 16 months
  • no two-word phrases by 2 years
  • loss of language or social skills
  • poor eye contact
  • inability to play appropriately with toys
  • unusual attachment to one particular toy or object
  • no smiling
  • apparent lack of response to sounds or voices and name being called

Although the cause of autism has not been identified, current research links autism to biological or neurological differences in the brain. Regardless of cause, autism is best treated by programs based on applied behavior analysis (ABA). As doctors make progress in diagnosing autism at an earlier age, more and more children are receiving this treatment at a young age when they are most receptive.

About May Institute

May Institute, a national nonprofit organization, provides educational, rehabilitative, and behavioral healthcare services to individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities, brain injury, mental illness, and behavioral healthcare needs. The Institute also provides training and consultation services to professionals, organizations, and public school systems.

Over the past 50 years, May Institute has evolved into an award-winning national network that serves over 25,000 individuals and their families annually at more than 200 service locations in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Midwest, and on the West Coast.

May Institute shares its corporate headquarters with the National Autism Center and the May Center for Child Development. Together, the staff members from these organizations—more than 60 doctoral- and master’s level professionals—represent one of the country’s largest concentrations of onsite clinicians with expertise in autism, developmental disabilities, and applied behavior analysis.

For more information on autism, visit our website at or call 800-778-7601.