Elementary School Impact of Early ABA Intervention

Thursday, May 12, 2016: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Hall A (Baltimore Convention Center)
E. Rotheram-Fuller1, K. S. Turner1, H. Park1, D. Martinez1, N. L. Matthews2 and C. J. Smith2, (1)Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, (2)Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center, Phoenix, AZ
Background: Applied Behavior Analysis has been shown to be the most effective intervention methodology for children with ASD (Wong et al., 2015). Although there are some initial studies that support the long-term effects of early intervention using ABA for this population (Virués-Ortega, 2010), there remain some questions about all of the ways that intensive early intervention can support children with ASD later in school. 

Objectives: This pilot study specifically compared elementary teacher reports of students with ASD who had received early intensive ABA services, relative to students with ASD who did not receive early intervention.

Methods: This study included 14 students with ASD at various functional levels, who completed diagnostic (ADOS-2), intelligence (KBIT-2), and adaptive skills measures (Vineland-II), as well as parent report of previous educational supports and interventions. Nine (64.3%) of these children had previously received intensive early intervention ABA services. Participants were predominantly Caucasian (57.1%), with 28.6% who identified as Latino, 7.1% African American, and 7.1% Asian. The group had IQ scores that ranged from 40 to 87, with a mean score of 63.11 (SD=19.70). All children attended one diagnostic visit at a clinical site, and then the teachers of each child were asked to complete a rating scale on students social and classroom behavior.

Results: There were no significant differences in parent age or education, although this was likely due to sample size. Parents of children receiving ABA services had an average education level of a Bachelors degree, while parents of children not receiving ABA services had an average level of a high school diploma. Of the nine students who received early intervention services, 7 (77.8%) were in inclusive regular education classrooms, while all (n=5) students who did not receive early ABA intervention were in Special Education classrooms. Teacher ratings of students’ social behavior did not differ significantly by group, however, their ratings of children’s classroom behavior was significantly worse for children who had not received ABA services (M=26.20, SD=3.96), relative to those who had (M=19.88, SD=4.02; t(12)=-2.78, p=0.018). 

Conclusions: These preliminary results show that while later social behavior may not be as impacted by early ABA services, classroom behavior is significantly improved for those with early behavioral intervention. Behavior functioning in classrooms is a key to educational success, and may be an essential factor to allow students to remain in less restrictive settings.