Learning through interaction in children with autism: preliminary data from asocial-communication-based intervention

Autism. 2013 Mar;17(2):220-41. doi: 10.1177/1362361311422052. Epub 2011 Sep 26.


The study evaluates a social-communication-based approach to autism intervention aimed at improving the social interaction skills of children with autism spectrum disorder. We report preliminary results from an ongoing randomized controlled trial of 51 children aged 2 years 0 months to 4 years 11 months. Participants were assigned to either a target treatment or community treatment group. Families in the target treatment group were given 2 hours of therapy and coaching each week in an intervention emphasizing social-interaction and the parent-child relationship. Children in the community treatment group received a variety of services averaging 3.9 hours per week. After 12 months, outcomes were measured to determine changes in the groups in social interaction and communication. In addition, a regression analysis was conducted to determine whether changes in social interaction skills were associated with language development. Results suggest that children in the treatment group made significantly greater gains in social interaction skills in comparison to the community treatment group, but no between-group differences were found for standard language assessments. Initiation of joint attention, involvement, and severity of language delay were found to be significantly associated with improvement of language skills in children with autism. Finally caregiver skills targeted by the intervention were found to be significantly associated with changes in children's interaction skills.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / psychology
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / rehabilitation
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / therapy*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Communication*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Language Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parents / education*
  • Speech Therapy