Pivotal debate

I read with interest your article (“How lifetime care for each autism sufferer costs £1.3 million”, 10 June) and couldn’t agree more with Carol Povey, director of the National Autistic Society’s Centre for Autism, about early diagnosis.

There are about 850 treatments for autism. Around 11 have some evidential support, but two have substantial, long-term clinical trial results demonstrating their effectiveness, and pivotal response treatment (PRT) is one of them.

It’s arguably the world’s leading behavioural therapy for autistic spectrum disorders, has been in development for decades, has an abundance of research studies to back it up and it’s fun for the children participating.

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PRT is so subtle and child-centred, an observer could be forgiven for not seeing any therapy going on, yet the long-term results are so significant.

While it can be helpful at any age, the most impressive statistics relate to young children – 95 per cent of children who begin treatment before three and a half years years old become verbal.

As an autism parent, this is like a ray of light to me and I was delighted when I came across Scottish charity Speur-Ghlan Early Intervention Service – the only specialist centre using PRT in the country. Applying the therapeutic approaches to my son has made a huge difference to his life.

However, not all parents are fortunate to experience early intervention techniques as by the time their child is diagnosed with autism it is often too late.

We need to improve how we treat the increasing number of people who have autism and related conditions, giving children the help they so desperately need, as early as possible. To turn the adage on its head: where there’s a way, let there be a will.

We have ways to help young people with autism – let’s have the will to use them.

Caroline Jones 

Volunteer at Speur-Ghlan

Bridge of Allan