Among the many available therapies and early interventions for children with autism, only a few are backed up with solid scientific evidence. But here’s some good news: recently, the quality of autism early intervention research has improved significantly.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD; which now includes former diagnostic labels such as Autistic Disorder and Asperger syndrome) is a life-long neuro-developmental disorder. It first shows itself early in life, emerging across toddlerhood and into the preschool years.
The movement against vaccinations continues to make news with numerous articles across all media, and public health experts are required to continuously defend vaccinations.
This topic is not a theoretical one…it affects the lives and health of many.
Dr Giacomo Vivanti & Professor Cheryl Dissanayake
Research underway for many years at La Trobe University has been supporting the very early identification of Autism Spectrum Disorders in infancy and toddlerhood with the view of promoting optimal development by access to early intervention. Recent research by Sally Rogers and her colleagues of the MIND Institute, published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders this week describes the first controlled study documenting outcomes of infants with signs of autism who received treatment in their first year of life, well before the age at which autism is usually diagnosed.
Dr Giacomo Vivanti
There is increasing evidence that intensive implementation of educational programs can be efficacious in improving outcomes in young children with autism. One of the most promising early intervention programs is the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM), a play-based intervention specifically targeting the educational needs of preschoolers with autism. Research conducted in the US indicates that the program is efficacious in the context of intensive individual home treatment. Read more “Translating evidence-based treatments into effective childcare programs for young children with ASD – yes we can!”
By Dr David Trembath
N1 program: Understanding Outcomes, One Child at a Time
As a parent, speech pathologist, and researcher in the field of ASD, I am yet to meet a child who does not learn, laugh, and grow in his or her own unique and important way. Indeed, it is the idiosyncrasies in our children that as parents we love and celebrate, which make classrooms interesting and fun to be in, and which inspire us to tailor the way we teach to each child’s interests, strengths, and personality. But how can we best chart each child’s individual course of learning in early life, and make discoveries from the different ways they learn? How can we measure intervention outcomes in a consistent manner when working with children with a spectrum of individual strengths and needs, while implementing a variety of different interventions? In a new clinically-focused research project we are attempting to address these issues, one child at a time.
Studies at OTARC and elsewhere have shown that infants and toddlers show early signs of ASD, which can be observed from the first year of life. These are first characterized by a lack of attention to social stimuli, and usually progress into clearer ASD symptoms throughout toddlerhood and the pre-school years (Clifford & Dissanayake, 2008). Similarly, studies investigating the early development of restricted and repetitive behaviours (RRBs) in children with an ASD have highlighted that certain RRBs are present in toddlerhood, with others becoming more evident over time (Leekam et al., 2011). These early symptoms are now used for the early identification of ASD in infants and toddlers.