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Behavioral interventions in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder: a review of recent findings

Dawson, Geraldinea; Burner, Karenb

doi: 10.1097/MOP.0b013e32834cf082
Neurology: Edited by Scott L. Pomeroy Robert C. Tasker and Sarah J. Spence
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Purpose of review The study provides an overview of recent studies on behavioral interventions for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Recent findings Recent reviews of the effectiveness of early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI) conclude that EIBI can improve language and cognitive skills. The first randomized controlled trial (RCT) of a comprehensive early intervention for toddlers with ASD demonstrated gains in language, cognitive abilities, and adaptive behavior. Targeted, brief behavioral interventions are efficacious for improving social communication in young children with ASD. Parents can be taught to deliver behavioral interventions, which are associated with improvements in parent–child interaction; effects on child outcome, however, have been mixed. Several studies show that social skills interventions are efficacious for improving peer relationships and social competence. Behavioral interventions are also effective for reducing anxiety symptoms and aggression. Medication combined with behavioral intervention was found to be more effective for reducing aggression than medication alone.

Summary Behavioral interventions are effective for improving language, cognitive abilities, adaptive behavior, and social skills, and reducing anxiety and aggression. Medication combined with behavioral intervention appears to be more effective for reducing aggressive behavior than medication alone.

aAutism Speaks and Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

bDepartment of Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA

Correspondence to Geraldine Dawson, 4120 Bioinformatics Building, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USATel: +1 919 966 5867; e-mail: gdawson@autismspeaks.org

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.