Given the significant increase in the number of children diagnosed with an Autistic spectrum disorder in the past decade, it is not surprising that a number of early childhood autism treatments have been developed. Such early interventions of autism have often been viewed with caution by psychologists as research demonstrating their effectiveness was scant. A recent study by the National Institute of Mental Health sought to determine the effectiveness of early intervention of Autism. The study examined the effectiveness of an early childhood intervention provided to children aged 18 months to 30 months.
They compared children who received intensive treatment, which included 4 hours of therapist led treatment five days a week in addition to 5 hours of weekly training from parents to address social interaction and communication, to those receiving standard treatment. Children who were assigned to the active treatment group demonstrated significant gains in cognitive functioning (i.e. IQ), language skills and social interaction. In addition, at follow up, almost 30 percent of the group who received extensive intervention was diagnosed with a less severe form of autism. It should be noted that no children were considered cured.
What are the implications of the current study of early intervention of Autism Spectrum Disorder?
1) Talk with your child’s pediatrician if you have concerns about your child’s communication or social interaction skills. It is important to keep in mind that comprehensive evaluations can be conducted as soon as delays are observed.
2) This study provides evidence for the effectiveness of intensive early intervention programs that address communication and social interaction difficulties.
What does early identification of Autism Spectrum Disorder mean for my child?
Early identification of autism can help gain access to early treatment. Studies are showing that the earlier the treatment, the more significant the gains for the child. Learn more about the assessments of Autism Spectrum Disorders that we conduct at the ApaCenter here.