An Australian team has developed the world’s first behavioral therapy that has been shown to reduce autism spectrum disorder-like behavior in infants enough to prevent a clinical diagnosis of ASD through improvement.
The therapy reduced the likelihood of ASD diagnoses at the three follow-up dates of 18, 24 and 36 months of age in a third of every 105 Australian children, and shows that early intervention, when only autism is suspected, can boost the social skills of the child and produce positive side effects later in life.
The therapy is known as the VIPPP method, because that is how important our children are. It actually stands for Video Interaction to promote positive parenting and acts as a kind of play-by-play translation and review app, so after a period of interaction with a child showing one of the four signs of early ASD, a doctor and parents can review the pictures of the interaction to help them understand exactly how the child is trying to communicate.
Cases of avoiding eye contact or not responding to their name can be signs that a child could develop ASD, and working around those barriers to help the child develop social skills when he is so young was the key to trial success.
“This is the first worldwide evidence that a preventive intervention can reduce autism behaviors and the likelihood of a later diagnosis,” said Professor Andrew Green of the University of Manchester, according to The Guardian.
“We think this is a landmark finding because it suggests that intervention at this early time can have this substantial effect. It may well change the way services support large numbers of children around the world. “
While the statistical effect of the therapy was not huge, there were other positive aspects, for example, the improvements made at the start of the study were sustained for 24 months.
Furthermore, while about 20% of children who did not receive therapy received an ASD diagnosis at three years, only 6.7% of those who underwent therapy.
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