International Meeting for Autism Research (London, May 15-17, 2008): NOVEL COMMUNITY-BASED EARLY INTERVENTION PROGRAM FOR AUTISM: ONE-YEAR OUTCOMES


Friday, May 16, 2008
Champagne Terrace/Bordeaux (Novotel London West)
I. M. Smith , Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada
C. McCleave , IWK Health Centre, Halifax, NS, Canada
L. Putnam , IWK Health Centre, Halifax, NS, Canada
K. Smith , Autism Research Centre, IWK Health Centre, Halifax, NS, Canada
R. Landry , Cape Breton Regional Hospital, Sydney, NS, Canada
D. Chitty , IWK Health Centre, Halifax, NS, Canada
S. E. Bryson , Pediatrics and Psychology, Dalhousie University/IWK Health Centre, Halifax, NS, Canada
Background: Effectiveness studies of autism early intervention programs are sorely needed; few have examined alternatives to the UCLA model. The Nova Scotia Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention (NS EIBI) model (Bryson et al., 2007) entails implementation of Pivotal Response Treatment (Koegel et al., 1999; Koegel & Koegel, 2006) by parents and one-to-one therapists in community settings.

Objectives: To examine changes in measures of child cognitive, language and behavioural functioning following 12 months of intervention in the NS EIBI model.

Methods: Fifty-six children with ASD below 6 years of age received up to 15 hours/week of 1-to-1 intervention for one year; parents also received training in PRT. Treatment fidelity was monitored. Independent research assessments were conducted at intervention start, and after 6 and 12 months; measures included both direct child assessment and parent report.

Results: Data are available for 53 children (mean age = 4.3 yrs; mean IQ estimate = 53.0, SD= 20.0), 43 of whom (40 males) have completed 12-month assessments. Significant mean gains were observed on estimated IQ (15.4 points), and on receptive and expressive language mental ages (14.4 and 13.3 months, respectively). Concurrently, significant decreases were seen in autism symptoms (Social Responsiveness Scale Total, 8.1 points), and other problem behaviours (CBCL Total, 8.4 points). Consistent with the focus of treatment, Vineland Communication domain standard scores increased significantly (7.9 points), whereas gains in other domains (except Motor) were significant but more modest. Magnitudes of gains were highly (and significantly) dependent on initial IQ for cognitive and language, but not for behavioural measures.

Conclusions: Children who received up to 15 hours/week of 1:1 PRT and whose parents were trained demonstrated substantial gains after one year of intervention. Results suggest that this less intensive ABA-based model enhances specific social-communication skills, as well as producing generalized change captured by IQ and behavioural measures.

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