Study Sheds Light on Early Intervention, but Suggests All Treatment Types Are Equal

Autism professionals, especially early intervention specialists, prepare yourself for what you are about to read: a new study suggests that young children with autism will benefit from your services, but it may not matter which kind of method you are using. Now I know this may offend some readers, as specialists in the field feel strongly about their particular type of therapy service, but everyone is still in agreement that early intervention is crucial for the development of a child with autism.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill designed this study to compare the outcomes of the LEAP (Learning Experiences and Alternative Program for Preschoolers and their Parents) and TEACCH (known by its acronym and developed at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), and the effects of these approaches with special education programs that have no set model. 74 teachers and 198 3-5 year olds in public schools were involved in the study. Regardless of the model (or lack of model), children made progress over the school year as co-author Kara Hume explained,

“Each group of children showed significant positive change in autism severity, communication and fine-motor skills. No statistically significant differences were found among models, which challenged our initial expectations—and likely the field’s.” [i]

The cost of these therapies is sky rocketing, leaving the parents of these children in distress. Perhaps the results of this study will lead to a re-examination of therapies, reducing the costs for the parents.

Don’t worry, everyone is still in agreement as statistics prove that early intervention is crucial and beneficial for young children diagnosed with autism, but as co-author and principal investigator of the study, Samuel L. Odom, suggests, “Perhaps it’s not the unique features of the models that most contribute to child gains but the common features of the models that most influence child growth.”



[i] “Futurity” In preschool, autism treatment types are equal. 18 Jul 2013. Web. < http://www.futurity.org/health-medicine/in-preschool-autism-treatment-types-are-equal/>