Non-pharmacological treatments in autism spectrum disorders: an overview on early interventions for pre-schoolers

Curr Clin Pharmacol. 2014 Feb;9(1):17-26. doi: 10.2174/15748847113086660071.


This paper evaluates the current literature on non-pharmacological early interventions (behavior behavioral, developmental and educational approaches) for pre-schoolers (aged 24-71 months) with autism spectrum disorders. Although there lies a significant heterogeneity among the available studies, the present review emphasizes the importance of considering the wide range of interventions through behavioral (behavioral or developmental interventions) and educational continuum according to the suggestions of the recent literature in this field. Furthermore, the present review: 1) outlines the issues about the scientific validity of the treatment outcome studies; 2) describes the findings of different parent-mediated interventions; 3) highlights the importance to use the same outcome measures through the studies to compare findings of different literature contributions; and 4) focuses on the importance to consider pre-treatment variables to identify children who will have better outcomes. Furthermore, some evidence-based guidelines about clinical management and treatment have also been outlined and summarized in this review. Finally, the review concludes on providing a number of practical recommendations to clinicians working in the field suggesting both the presence of a specialized team and role of an active collaboration of the family to treatment as core milestones for the clinical management.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / therapy*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Parents*
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Treatment Outcome