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Summary of Systematic Review

Evidence-Based Comprehensive Treatments for Early Autism
Rogers, S. J., & Vismara, L. A. (2008).
Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 37(1), 8-38.

This review meets the criteria for a high-quality evidence-based systematic review.

Indicators of Review Quality:

The review states a clearly focused question or aim 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
Characteristics of the included studies are provided Yes

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)/Aim(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 to 2006

Conclusions:

Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • 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

        • “…[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

      • “…[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.

Social Communication Disorders

  • Treatment

    • Cognition/Language

      • Peer-Mediated/Implemented

        • "Peer interactions are a crucial part of intervention programs for children with autism; children with autism of all ages and all levels of disability have been shown to gain from these approaches.   Many such approaches use typically developing peers to foster social growth in children with autism.  National reviews recommend that children with autism have frequent access to typical peers" (p. 33).

Spoken Language Disorders

  • Treatment

    • Cognition/Language

      • Behavioral Approaches/Interventions

        • Pivotal Response Training

          • “[U]sing [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, [Pivotal Response Training] meets the “criteria as a probably efficacious intervention” (p. 31).

Sponsoring Body:
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; National Institute of Deafness and Communication Disorders; National Institute of Mental Health

Keywords:
Autism Spectrum Disorders

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