As with most treatments, the sooner it begins the better the success rate. The same can be said regarding early intervention for children on the autism spectrum. Research shows that the earlier interventions for autism are implemented, the more likely they are to have major long-term positive effects.
What is Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI)?
Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI) describes therapy based on ABA principles that includes the following:
1. begins early - typically by age 3
2. intensive - 20-40 hours per week
3. is individualized to each child
4. involves 1 on 1 sessions with a child and trained therapist
5. targets multiple skill deficits or behavioral excesses
Who should receive EIBI?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children ages 18-24 months be screened for autism. Since a child this young’s brain is still forming, treatments have a better chance of being effective long-term and provide the best chance to reach the child’s full potential. Recent guidelines suggest starting behavior intervention as soon as ASD is seriously suspected or diagnosed. With the assistance of early intervention, some children with autism make such substantial progress that they are no longer on the spectrum when they are older. These children who later go off the spectrum have several commonalities:
- Diagnosis and treatment at younger ages
- A higher intelligence quotient (IQ) than the average child with autism
- Better language and motor skills
Is EIBI successful?
A five-year study conducted by the University of Washington in Seattle found that the IQ of the children who received early intervention treatment improved by an average of 18 points compared to 4 points in a comparison group who did not receive treatment. In addition, those with treatment showed greater improvement in listening and understanding. Parental involvement and implementation of treatment strategies at home are likely important aspects of the success. Introducing new skills to children at such a young age gives them the opportunity to be ready for more demanding environments such as school.
Early Intervention for Toddlers with Autism Highly Effective, Study finds. (2009, Nov 29). Autism Speaks. https://www.autismspeaks.org/science-news/early-intervention-toddlers-autism- highly-effective-study-finds
Zwaigenbaum, L., Bauman, M. L., Choueiri, R., Kasari, C., Carter, A., Granpeesheh, D., et al. (2015). Early intervention for children with autism spectrum disorder under 3 years of age: Recommendations for practice and research. Pediatrics, 136(Suppl 1), S60–81. PMID: 26430170
Helt, M., Kelley, E., Kinsbourne, M., Pandey, J., Boorstein, H., Herbert, M., et al. (2008). Can children with autism recover? If so, how? Neuropsychology Review, 18(4), 339–366.
What is Early and Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI)? (2020). Autism Parenting Magazine. https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/early-intensive-behavioral-intervention/