Study Finds More Intensive Autism Interventions Do Not Guarantee Better Outcomes

July 08, 2024

New Research Suggests Tailored, Developmentally Appropriate Approaches May Be More Effective for Young Children with Autism

A new study led by the UNC School of Medicine and researchers across the country has found that higher-intensity interventions do not necessarily yield better outcomes for young children with autism. The meta-analysis, published in JAMA Pediatrics, reviewed data from 144 early childhood intervention studies involving 9,038 children aged 0 to 8 and concluded that increasing intervention hours did not improve developmental outcomes. Instead, the study suggests that interventions should be tailored to be developmentally appropriate and supportive of family needs. This challenges the widely recommended Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention approach, which advocates for up to 40 hours of intervention per week. The study also highlights concerns that intensive interventions may deprive children of critical rest and socialization with family members. The findings emphasize the need for more high-quality research to determine the optimal amount of intervention, considering individual differences and the overall well-being of the child. Consequently, clinicians are encouraged to move away from prescribing a standard intervention amount and to focus on individualized plans that balance intervention with the child’s overall development and family dynamics.

Original Article 

Original Study Abstract

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