Experimental ‘preemptive’ therapy fails to improve autism traits in study

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Image: Kaiser Permanente

An experimental behavioral therapy delivered by parents does not improve autism traits in babies who screen positive for the condition, according to a new study.

The results are disappointing, say independent experts, because they had high hopes for this particular approach’s promise in mitigating the severity of autism traits.

The researchers started babies on the therapy between 9 and 14 months of age. Six months later, according to parent reports, the children who received the therapy spoke and understood more words than those who did not. But when the researchers evaluated the same children, they did not detect a statistically significant difference between the two groups.

It’s unclear why the treatment had limited success in this case, [psychology professor Connie Kasari] says, but it’s unlikely that any single strategy would work for all families. She argues for a personalized approach to early intervention. “We really need to rethink preemptive interventions for kids at risk [of autism],” she says.

The researchers are following the children in the study to assess whether their improvements persist. They also plan to test whether the therapy decreases a child’s chances of an autism diagnosis or eases autism traits at age 3.

Read full, original post: Test of ‘preemptive’ autism therapy detects few benefits

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