A Promising Intervention For Toddlers
Ten years ago, autism was rarely detected before ages 3 or 4. Now, thanks to growing awareness and widespread screening at 18 and 24 months, more children with autism are being identified when they are toddlers. But for all the emphasis on early detection, very little research exists on how to intervene effectively for children so young. A report in the current issue of Pediatrics helps fill in the gap, providing the first randomized, controlled trial — the most rigorous kind of study — of a comprehensive autism treatment that appears to work well for children as young as 18 months.
While none of the children in the study were “cured” of autism, those receiving two years of intensive therapy achieved major leaps in IQ score, big improvements in their use of language and significant gains in their ability to handle the kinds of everyday tasks necessary for a child to function at school and at play.