Early Autism Intervention Produces Long Term Benefits

Annette Estes, Ph.D. Research Associate Professor of Speech and Hearing Sciences Adjunct Research Associate Professor of Psychology Director, University of Washington Autism Center Susan & Richard Fade Endowed Chair Center on Human Development and Disability University of WashingtonMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Annette Estes, Ph.D.
Research Associate Professor of Speech and Hearing Sciences
Adjunct Research Associate Professor of Psychology
Director, University of Washington Autism Center
Susan & Richard Fade Endowed Chair
Center on Human Development and Disability
University of Washington

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Estes: Although a number of studies have shown the positive effects of early intervention on children’s abilities during the preschool period, there have been few studies to date that have followed children longitudinally to find out if these gains are sustained.  We found that two years after completing the intervention, children maintained their gains in cognitive and adaptive behavior skills and also showed a reduction in autism symptoms.  The results suggest that early intervention results in long term benefits for children across a wide range of skills.  Children who received the ESDM intervention as toddlers later showed fewer autism symptoms at school age.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Estes: Early intensive behavioral intervention has been found to be efficacious in improving developmental outcomes for young children with autism spectrum disorder. Children were able to maintain the developmental gains that they made in early, intensive, in-home intervention over a 2-year follow-up period. These children did not exhibit developmental regression or lose skills, even after substantial reductions in services. Intellectual, language, and adaptive functioning gains made as a result of early intervention may generalize to new domains of functioning, such as reduced Autism Spectrum Disorder symptom severity, 2 years later.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Estes: Research is needed to extend these results to a more diverse range of families and communities to assess the effectiveness of early autism intervention.

Citation:

Annette Estes, Jeffrey Munson, Sally J. Rogers, Jessica Greenson, Jamie Winter, Geraldine Dawson. Long-Term Outcomes of Early Intervention in 6-Year-Old Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 2015; DOI: 10.1016/j.jaac.2015.04.005

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Annette Estes, Ph.D., Research Associate Professor of Speech and Hearing Sciences, Adjunct Research Associate Professor of Psychology, Director, University of Washington Autism Center, Susan & Richard Fade Endowed Chair, Center on Human Development and Disability,  University of Washington (2015). Early Autism Intervention Produces Long Term Benefits