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Type Of Play Therapy Raises IQ Scores In Autistic Children

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, November 30, 2009 12:52 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Autism, ESDM, Thimerosal, Mercury, Vaccines

A type of play therapy showed a great improvement among toddlers with autism, this study finds.

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IMAGE SOURCE: UC Davis – M.I.N.D. Institute web site/ image of girl playing

Early Start Denver Model

While there are many divisions within the communities concerned with autism, early intervention and screening is one area of cohesion.

Now a new study shows that a certain form of therapy, delivered as early as 18 months, can raise IQ levels and improve language skills and behavior.

The study is published in the journal Pediatrics.

Lead author Geraldine Dawson, a chief science officer with the group, Autism Speaks, believes “early intervention can be very effective for toddlers with autism.”

What’s different in this first controlled trial of children under the age of two-and-a-half, is that instead of waiting, a form of intervention, called “Early Start Denver Model” (ESDM), was most effective.

In this published study, all of the children were enrolled in either a community-based therapy or in ESDM, developed by Dr. Sally Rogers from the University of California-Davis M.I.N.D. Institute.

The goal was to determine whether the debilitating effects of autism can be reduced or prevented.

Of the 48 children who received ESDM, a more relaxed therapy delivered by therapists in a child’s home, children had an increase in their IQ by nearly 18 points, 10 points higher than children receiving standard therapy delivered by a therapist in an office.

Standard therapy, Traditional Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), breaks down complex tasks into small and do-able components coupled with tangible reinforcement. But the ESDM group not only had higher IQ points after two years, but children also scored higher in listening and understanding as well as in motor skill improvement.

ESDM can be taught to parents to use in everyday settings.

For children with autism, the ESDM group required only 15 hours of intervention a week, compared with about 40 recommended hours typically. That could save parents the cost of therapy, estimated by a 2006 Harvard study to be more than $3 million a lifetime.

The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends all children be screened for autism between 18 and 24 months.  

Until now, there had been no studies proving the ESDM was the most effective treatment. A second study will attempt to replicate the findings of this study before the therapy can receive the endorsement and be recommended by major health organizations.

Autism is characterized by neurological disorders, communication difficulties and/ or restrictive or repetitive behaviors.

A study published in the October 5, 2009 issue of Pediatrics finds that parent-reported autism affects one in 91 American children, and 1 in 58 boys.

The cause is unknown and there is no known cure, though heavy metal ingredients in childhood vaccines, such as mercury-based thimerosal or aluminum are suspected. #


1 Comment

Anonymous User
Posted by NancyShip
Sunday, January 10, 2010 10:01 AM EST

Have you tapped into More Than Words-Hanen ??and tell me how a therapy that trains skills rather than addresses the core problem in autism and that has not been researched with very young children has got such a toe-hold into the medical and therapeutic community in spite of the fact that it goes for academics rather than connections--so many little children who can say circle, square and rectangle and not ask to go to pee! I am an 80 year old angry lady!I am referring naturally to ABA which is the only govt funded therapy in Quebec and for which young workers get quick training and have no understanding of child development GRRR!

Comments for this article are closed.

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