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Children who screen positive for autism at 2.5 years and receive early intervention: a prospective naturalistic 2-year outcome study

Journal article
Authors Birgitta Spjut Jansson
Carmela Miniscalco
Joakim Westerlund
Anne-Katrin Kantzer
Elisabeth Fernell
Christopher Gillberg
Published in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment
Volume 2016
Issue 12
Pages 2255—2263
ISSN 1176-6328
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Psychology
Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre
Pages 2255—2263
Language en
Keywords autism spectrum disorder, preschool children, early intervention, ABA, cognitive function, follow-up
Subject categories Psychology


Background: Previous research has stressed the importance of early identification and intervention for children with autism spectrum disorders. Methods: Children who had screened positive for autism at the age of 2.5 years in a general population screening and then received a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder were enrolled in an intervention program provided by Swedish habilitation services. The following interventions were available: a comprehensive intervention based on Applied Behavior Analysis – Intensive Learning (IL) – in two settings, which included home- and preschool-based (IL Regular) and only home-based (IL Modified) and eclectic interventions. Results: There was considerable variability in terms of outcome, but intervention group status was not associated with any of the chosen outcome variables. Conclusion: The main finding was that the type of intervention was not critical for outcome of adaptive or global functioning. The variability in outcome demonstrates the need for continuous assessments and evaluation of the child’s function and behavior throughout the intervention period.

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