American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

EBP Compendium: Summary of Systematic Review

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; National Institute of Deafness and Communication Disorders; National Institute of Mental Health
Evidence-Based Comprehensive Treatments for Early Autism

Rogers, S. J., & Vismara, L. A. (2008).
Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 37(1), 8-38.

Indicators of Review Quality:

The review addresses a clearly focused question Yes
Criteria for inclusion of studies are provided Yes
Search strategy is described in sufficient detail for replication Yes
Included studies are assessed for study quality Yes
Quality assessments are reproducible No

Description: This is a review of comparative studies assessing the efficacy of early comprehensive interventions (those that addressed the core deficits of autism including language, social, cognition, and play) for children with autism.

Question(s) Addressed:

What is the empirical evidence supporting efficacy of early intervention for young children with autism?

Population: Children with autism, predominantly ages 5 or younger.

Intervention/Assessment: Early intervention for autism

Number of Studies Included: 22

Years Included: 1998 - 2006

Findings:

Conclusions:

  • Treatment
    • Cognition/Language
      • General Findings - "…[Y]oung children with autism, as a group, demonstrate accelerated developmental gains in response to focused daily interventions of several different kinds” (p. 30). These included significant gains in language and communication. Programs with “many targeted hours per week resulted in increases in IQ at the group level as well” (p. 30). The authors were unable to conclude which comprehensive treatment approach was best for young children with autism due to a lack of comparative studies with long-term follow-up data.
      • ABA/Discrete Trial/Lovaas - Lovaas’s intervention approach meets the “criteria for probably efficacious” (p. 30).
      • Pivotal Response Training - “…[U]sing PRT [Pivotal Response Training] to teach a variety of communication, language, play and imitation skills deserves consideration” (p. 30). Based on the number and type of published studies, PRT meets the “criteria as a probably efficacious intervention” (p. 31).
  • Service Delivery
    • Dosage
      • General Findings - “…[Y]oung children with autism, as a group, demonstrate accelerated developmental gains in response to focused daily interventions of several different kinds” (p. 30). These included significant gains in language and communication. Programs with “many targeted hours per week resulted in increases in IQ at the group level as well” (p. 30). The authors were unable to conclude which comprehensive treatment approach was best for young children with autism due to a lack of comparative studies with long-term follow-up data.

Keywords: Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Added to Compendium: December 2011

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