Intensive intervention programs for children with autism

Ludwig S, Harstall C
Record ID 32001000936
Authors' objectives: This report aims to review the published research on the effectiveness of intensive behavioural intervention (IBI) programs for children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Authors' recomendations: The three critical reviews evaluated a number of comprehensive treatment programs for young children with ASD. These included programs ranging from strict operant discrimination learning (Lovaas therapy) to broader applied behaviour analysis such as the Rutgers Autism Program to more developmentally oriented programs such as the Denver Model and TEACCH Program. Furthermore, these treatment programs vary in their intensity from 40 hours per week for Lovaas Therapy and Rutgers Autism Program to a range of 15 hours per week for the LEAP Program. Most of these intensive interventions were shown to be effective in producing developmental gains, increases in IQ and less restrictive school placement. Because of the methodological limitations and weaknesses of existing research, evidence remains limited on the efficacy and effectiveness of one intervention in comparison to another. It does appear that children improve in functioning (as measured by various indices) with behavioural intervention programs. However, it remains to be determined if any one program is more effective than another program. Generally the researchers used standardized, reliable and valid measures of intellectual functioning, adaptive behavior, language performance and development, and various measures of personality, autism rating scales and stress measures. The most common outcome measure used in the studies was that of IQ. Sattler stated that some autistic children do not differ ntellectually from other 'normal' children, while some show unevenness in functioning. According to the DSM-IV, these children demonstrate impaired social interaction and communication, as well as diminished interest in their surroundings. Therefore it seems that to truly demonstrate efficacy, outcome measures would need to demonstrate improvements in these areas, rather than rely (for the most part) on IQ measures.
Authors' methods: Systematic review
Project Status: Completed
Year Published: 2001
English language abstract: An English language summary is available
Publication Type: Not Assigned
Country: Canada
MeSH Terms
  • Autistic Disorder
  • Child
Organisation Name: Institute of Health Economics
Contact Address: 1200, 10405 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T5J 3N4. Tel: +1 780 448 4881; Fax: +1 780 448 0018;
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Copyright: Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (AHFMR)
This is a bibliographic record of a published health technology assessment from a member of INAHTA or other HTA producer. No evaluation of the quality of this assessment has been made for the HTA database.