[Note: Shared for #AutisticHistory archive purposes. This is NOT An Autistic Ally.]
Study Finds Parent Intervention is Best for Helping Toddlers with Autism
Toddlers with autism demonstrated significant improvement after intensive intervention by parents rather than clinicians, according to a new study published online in the journal Pediatrics.
“The treatment model shows that parents can learn to support their child’s learning in everyday activities, and that this can result in improvements in the child’s overall development and specifically in social communication and autism symptoms,” said senior author Dr. Catherine Lord, director of the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain, a collaboration between Weill Cornell Medical College, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. “The study supports the importance of including parents in their children’s treatment.”
Social communication includes eye gaze, facial expressions, gestures, sounds, sharing of emotion, listening, learning to understand words, discovering how to use objects — things that children with autism have difficulty learning.
“The findings are important because this treatment is viable in many communities,” said Dr. Amy Wetherby, director of the Autism Institute at Florida State University’s College of Medicine and lead author of the study. “We have early intervention that’s federally and state funded. Now we’ve tested a model that any early intervention system should be able to offer to all families of toddlers with autism. It’s affordable, and it’s efficient in terms of clinicians’ time.”
Most children are not diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) until age 4 — and even later in lower-income, rural and minority families. By contrast, the American Academy of Pediatrics wants every child to be screened at 18 and 24 months of age. Early diagnosis, however, does little good without early intervention.
In recent years, some intervention trials had achieved improved outcomes for children but required an inaccessible amount of time from clinicians. Others that focused on teaching parents found that the parents learned, but the children didn’t show significant gains from the treatment.
The new study outlines the results of a seven-year, randomized controlled trial, in which families of 82 toddlers with ASD who were 18 months old were assigned to one of two nine-month interventions.
The researchers compared the effects of teaching parents in a group once a week and teaching them individually in their homes three times a week for six months, and then twice a week for three more months. Children in both groups improved in their use of words and autism symptoms. But children in the second group improved more on measures of understanding and social communication.
The investigators also taught families to work with their children in their everyday activities, such as meals and snacks, caregiving and family chores, including how to bring their children into a given activity. They taught parents how to take their children to places in their communities such as playgrounds, grocery stores and restaurants.
“We tried to help parents make interactions fun and fruitful learning moments. But we also taught the parents how to push their child — because their child has autism, and we are finding these children at this very critical moment when their brain is more able to learn,” Dr. Wetherby said. “If the parent can start early, then we are more likely to change the child’s trajectory of learning for the rest of their life.”
Dr. Lord was involved in the development of some of the instruments used in this research and receives royalty income from the sale of those instruments.
A version of this story ran on the Florida State University website.
More With Catherine Lord
Autistic people have fought the inclusion of ABA in therapy for us since before Autism Speaks, and other non-Autistic-led autism organizations, started lobbying legislation to get it covered by insurances and Medicaid.
ABA is a myth originally sold to parents that it would keep their Autistic child out of an institution. Today, parents are told that with early intervention therapy their child will either be less Autistic or no longer Autistic by elementary school, and can be mainstreamed in typical education classes. ABA is very expensive to pay out of pocket. Essentially, Autism Speaks has justified the big price tag up front will offset the overall burden on resources for an Autistic’s lifetime. The recommendation for this therapy is 40 hours a week for children and toddlers.
The original study that showed the success rate of ABA to be at 50% has never been replicated. In fact, the study of ABA by United States Department of Defense was denounced as a failure. Not just once, but multiple times. Simply stated: ABA doesn’t work. In study after repeated study: ABA (conversion therapy) doesn’t work.
What more recent studies do show: Autistics who experienced ABA therapy are at high risk to develop PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions. Historically, the autism organizations promoting ABA as a cure or solution have silenced Autistic advocates’ opposition. ABA is also known as gay conversion therapy.
The ‘cure’ for Autistics not born yet is the prevention of birth.
The ‘cure’ is a choice to terminate a pregnancy based on ‘autism risk.’ The cure is abortion. This is the same ‘cure’ society has for Down Syndrome.
This is eugenics 2021. Instead of killing Autistics and disabled children in gas chambers or ‘mercy killings’ like in Aktion T4, it’ll happen at the doctor’s office, quietly, one Autistic baby at a time. Different approaches yes, but still eugenics and the extinction of an entire minority group of people.
Fact: You can’t cure Autistics from being Autistic.
Fact: You can’t recover an Autistic from being Autistic.
Fact: You can groom an Autistic to mask and hide their traits. Somewhat. … however, this comes at the expense of the Autistic child, promotes Autistic Burnout (this should not be confused with typical burnout, Autistic Burnout can kill Autistics), and places the Autistic child at high risk for PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions.
[Note: Autism is NOT a disease, but a neurodevelopmental difference and disability.]
Fact: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism.