The Mifne Intervention Program
In 1987, the Mifne (‘Turning Point’ in Hebrew) Intervention Program was established in Israel by Dr. Hanna Alonim. This model of early intervention for children with autism was the first to recognize the importance of individual intensive treatment and parental participation, which together constitute the family therapy component of the program. This is a multi-component intervention program that addresses key issues relating to environmental aspects and particularly the family. The guiding concept of the program is, that whatever the etiology is, autism affects the whole family. Family therapy is an essential component of this intervention program, epitomizing the main difference between Mifne and other existing interventions. The program applies Bowlby’s attachment theory, relating to the development of the self and the development of play. It incorporates psychodynamic concepts regarding autism and the systemic approach to family therapy of Minuchin and a bio-psycho-social model.
The basic concept underlying the therapeutic model views the family as an organic unit. The nuclear family takes an active part in the intensive treatment which begins with a residential period lasting three weeks, all day, seven days a week at the Mifne Center. The Center provides a near-naturalistic environment, facilitating everyday life for the whole family. The initial short-term therapy aims to give the family the opportunity to reflect upon themselves and their child, and to gain a better understanding of their needs.
The Mifne Intervention Program is a sequential family program for infants up to the age of two, with a diagnosis on the autistic spectrum. It includes three stages:
|1. Intensive therapy for the nuclear family in residence at the Mifne Center
|2. Aftercare therapy at the family home
|3. Integration of the toddler into a kindergarten
The program identifies the parents and, in a broader sense, the nuclear family, as the focal point for treatment. Special attention is given to the siblings in the family, who are included in the program according to their age and needs.
The treatment at Mifne is followed by the second stage, an aftercare program, when the family returns home. This aftercare program usually lasts from six to eighteen months, depending on each child’s progress and capabilities, as well as on the parents’ ability to maintain this routine.
The third stage, integration, is a gradual process, which takes place when the toddler is re-evaluated, to indicate whether he or she is able to cope in his/her peer group.