Promising New Developments For Autism

A rigorous, if small, study of behavior treatment found two years of therapy can vastly improve symptoms in autistic children as young as 18 months and often results in a milder diagnosis.

Early autism treatment remains controversial because there's been little evidence that it really works. But there's also a growing emphasis on diagnosing autism at the earliest possible age.

The therapy focused on social interaction and communication. Therapists or parents would repeatedly hold a toy near a child's face to encourage eye contact, which is a common problem in autism. Or they'd reward children when they used words to ask for toys.

Children in a group receiving 25 hours of treatment a week registered an average IQ gain of almost 18 points after two years. Language skills also improved. However, no children were considered "cured."

The study was published online today in Pediatrics. One autism education specialist calls it "a landmark of great import."

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  • by Anonymous on Nov 30, 2009 at 05:09 AM
    A new treatment is great for those already affect. But how about finding the cause and stopping more children from being affected. In the 70's there was not even one page in college text on Autism, the professor said would probably never see a case of it. Something has changed to cause this. But what? They don't care because they make more money off treating Autism, just like they do cancer.
  • by Ms. T on Nov 30, 2009 at 04:50 AM
    As a parent of an autistic child, I must say that it is great to hear of all the new studies and developments out there. The only problem...these treatments and interventions are not available to all who suffer. The programs are running over with applicants, but there just aren't enough resources to provide for all. My son was diagnosed at a local specialty center. It was like being told "yes he is autistic, but we can't help you because there are too many behind you waiting to be seen". How about more funding for these very helpful programs? Early intervention is very important and I personally feel that my son would have improved greatly with trained professionals instead of just being able to enter preschool early. We are even on a registry at UNC (and have been for 6 years) but he has never been called for any studies. Sadly, my child's physician (at the time) wasn't even the one who picked up on the autistic characteristics. It was me, so someone wasn't doing their job.

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