A randomized controlled trial of what was thought to be a promising intervention for young children at risk for an autism spectrum disorder produced results similar to those for community treatment as usual. The Early Start Denver Model (P-ESDM) trains parents to use a child-centered, responsive style of interaction and embeds teaching opportunities into play activities for toddlers aged 14 to 24 months. The goal was to see if work at home by parents could have effects akin to those from intensive treatments provided by a professional. “There was no effect of group assignment on parent–child interaction characteristics or on any child outcomes,” said Sally Rogers, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of California, Davis, MIND Institute, and colleagues in the October Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Both groups of children showed progress, and both sets of parents improved their interaction skills, the researchers found. “Evidence that both younger age and more intervention hours positively affect developmental rates has implications for clinical practice, service delivery, and public policy,” they wrote.
For an in-depth look at current knowledge about the topic, see the Textbook of Autism Spectrum Disorders
from American Psychiatric Publishing.