How Effective is Preemptive ASD Intervention for At-Risk Infants?

October 18, 2021

New Research Negates the “Wait and See” Approach

A fascinating new investigation published in JAMA Pediatrics has determined that preemptive intervention for infants showing early behavioral signs of autism led to a significant reduction in the severity of ASD behaviors in early childhood.  Additionally, these same children were less likely to receive an autism diagnosis at age 3. The study’s design involved a randomized clinical trial of a preemptive intervention versus usual care at two Australian research centers (Perth, Melbourne). In total, 104 infants aged 9 to 14 months who showed early behaviors associated with autism were recruited from both communities from June 2016 to March 2018. The infant subjects were randomly assigned to receive either preemptive intervention plus usual care or usual care only over a 5-month period. The preemptive intervention group received a 10-session social communication intervention, iBASIS–VIDEO Interaction to Promote Positive Parenting (iBASIS-VIPP). Usual care was defined as services delivered by community clinicians. Findings showed that the infants who received the preemptive intervention had lower odds of receiving an autism diagnosis (7%) than those who received the usual care (21%) at age 3. This research also discovered that the children who received preemptive intervention had reduced ASD behavior severity. The study’s final follow up data was collected in April 2020. This important research indicates that the “wait and see” advice parents are given in doctor’s offices can have serious consequences and shows that preemptive intervention can change an at-risk infant’s developmental trajectory. 

Original Study

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