Early intervention and perspectives for children with autism spectrum disorder in Japan
Early detection and early diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are promoted throughout the world. Early detection and early intervention for children with ASD is known to have certain effects. Consistent with global trends, systems to provide children with appropriate environments and educational opportunities in Japan are improving; features of ASD are being detected by the age of approximately 2 years through health checkups for infants and children. However, the early screening of autistic infants and children in Japan, subsequent follow-up, and early intervention methods differ greatly among residential areas and local governments. In this article, we outline well-constructed models of systems that include aspects such as early detection, early diagnosis, early intervention, parent support, and longitudinal follow-up of ASD and are used in some areas in Japan. Furthermore, we note the current efforts of the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM), which the authors are working to apply in Japan. Early detection and diagnosis systems for children with ASD in Japan will continue to develop, and the validation of their effects through randomized controlled trials (RCTs) is desired in research on early intervention for children with ASD. Furthermore, the brain function research that the author of this article is working on may be one approach for objectively evaluating the effects of early intervention from both behavioral and physiological perspectives.