Sunday, October 19, 2014

Study: Autism Therapy Produces Greatest Gains When Started Before Age 2

A new study provides further evidence that earlier intervention for autism increases the likelihood that a child will make significant gains in social and communication skills. The report appears in the journal Research in Developmental Disabilities. In the study, researchers at The New England Center for Children enrolled 83 toddlers diagnosed with autism in the school’s Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention program. The program, based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), provided 20 to 30 hours of one-on-one therapy each week. The children were between 1 and 3 years old at the time they began therapy. After one year of intervention, testing showed gains in social and communication skills across all age groups. These skills included sharing attention with another person, interactive play, imitation and language. To gauge the extent of these gains, the researchers compared each child’s skill levels at the end of the year to both the child’s skill level on entering the program and the skills of an age-matched comparison group of 58 typically developing children. While all age groups showed improvements, a much larger percentage of the youngest participants made significant gains in skills during the year of therapy. * Among the toddlers who entered the therapy program before their second birthday, 90 percent (11 out of 12 children) made significant gains. * This was true of 70 percent (26 of 36) of those who began therapy between 24 and 29 months of age. * By contrast, only 30 percent of the children who entered therapy after 30 months of age (11 out of 35) made significant gains across the year.

Read more here.