Dr Helen Chau

We are familiar with some facets of autism which many people believe cannot be suitably restored. However, scientists from the RMIT University have put forth that the behavior of pre-school children suffering from autism seemingly showed improvements in the initial 6 months of early medication.

The team inspected the phases of early intervention in preschool children experiencing problems such as developmental delay or autism, as part of the study. They observed the influences of home-based applied behavior analysis (ABA) programs, generic centre-based early intervention programs and autism-specific centre-based programs, on the kids. As per the outcomes, substantial behavioral benefits were apparent in the first six months, regardless of the kind of early intervention avenue opted for.

“Children who attended either home-based or centre-based early intervention for six months demonstrated a larger reduction of autism-related behaviours than in the following six months. The different approaches both had benefits – centre-based programs tended to improve social competence, while home-based programs improved self-help skills,” commented Dr Helen Chau.

Notably, longer hours of intervention each week were supposedly linked to effective developmental results. However, it was not clear if home-based programs fared better than centre-based interventions.

This analysis initially started with a survey of 50 families and 20 early intervention centres for a span of 2 years. There was also another follow-up study conducted with 8 families and almost 20 early intervention centres. The scientists also trialed 12 autistic children undergoing early intervention for a period of 1 year.

Further, the team underlined the importance of timely and early intervention since the outcomes showed a positive link between age-of-start and developmental advantages. For younger children, it meant a greater IQ while for older kids, it implied enhanced interpersonal communication and relationships. In case of ABA programs, there was a specific time frame between 7 and 12 months and 19 and 24 months, when additional hours did not presumably result in productive developments.

Dr Helen Chau concluded that more studies are required to get a deeper insight into the best remedial measures available for children with autism. The report will be presented at RMIT’s spectacular Graduation Ceremony at Etihad Stadium on Wednesday, 14 December.