- Among 7 types of early intervention for autism, none had significant effect after being controlled for study design and bias in this meta-analysis and systematic review.
- Authors evaluated 15 outcome categories for 6240 participants from 130 independent samples.
Why this matters
- Early intervention is urged for children diagnosed with autism on the premise that applying these strategies early will offer greater benefit.
- Authors say that despite results under most stringent analysis, naturalistic developmental behavioral intervention (NDBI) studies offer “a range of positive outcomes” for these children.
- They also highlight developmental interventions as promising.
- These authors evaluated 1615 effect sizes.
- When all studies were included, 3 types of intervention showed effects: NDBI (26 studies), behavioral (27 studies), and developmental (14 studies).
- No effects seen for sensory-based (7 studies), technology-based (10 studies), or animal-based (4 studies) interventions or TEACCH (6 studies).
- With inclusion only of randomized controlled trials (RCTs), only NDBI and developmental interventions showed effects.
- With inclusion only of RCTs and outcomes with no risk for detection bias, no interventions showed effects.
- 150 reports included.
- Average participant age, 54.21 months; 84% of each sample on average were male.
- Funding: None disclosed.
- The limitations are those of the included studies.