Everyday Interventions Show Promise for Young Children With Autism, Study Finds
Interventions provided by parents and caregivers in everyday settings, such as at dinner or in the classroom, can be extremely beneficial for children with autism, according to researchers at the University of Texas at Austin.
According to a recent report by University of Texas News, the findings of the study were published in the journal Psychological Bulletin. Led by Special Education Assistant Professor Michael Sandbank, the study is unique in being the first “meta-analysis” of 130 studies of non-pharmacological interventions for young children with autism.
These interventions, known as naturalistic developmental behavior interventions (NDBI), are implemented in natural settings by clinicians, educators, and caregivers, and use a number of behavioral strategies to teach developmentally appropriate skills to young children with autism. For example, teaching a child to say the word “ball” might include playing naturally with a ball in the park. In 2015, the developers of NDBI’s wrote a consensus statement declaring that these were similar approaches guided by a shared philosophy.
The recent meta-analysis found that, while traditional intervention methods show promise, more high-quality research is needed. The researchers also found that there is little evidence to support the effectiveness of several other interventions, including sensory-based and animal-assisted interventions.
“The evidence regarding intervention for children on the autism spectrum has been rapidly transforming,” Sandbank said. “The last decade has seen the publication of over 100 group design studies of intervention, including at least 50 randomized controlled trials. These studies attest to the fact that access to intervention in early childhood can yield a range of positive outcomes for the children receiving it, but we have further to go to improve the quality of our evidence.”