Early Intervention for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder Under 3 Years of Age: Recommendations for Practice and Research

Pediatrics. 2015 Oct;136 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S60-81. doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-3667E.


This article reviews current evidence for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) interventions for children aged <3 years, based on peer-reviewed articles published up to December 2013. Several groups have adapted treatments initially designed for older, preschool-aged children with ASD, integrating best practice in behavioral teaching methods into a developmental framework based on current scientific understanding of how infants and toddlers learn. The central role of parents has been emphasized, and interventions are designed to incorporate learning opportunities into everyday activities, capitalize on "teachable moments," and facilitate the generalization of skills beyond the familiar home setting. Our review identified several comprehensive and targeted treatment models with evidence of clear benefits. Although some trials were limited to 8- to 12-week outcome data, enhanced outcomes associated with some interventions were evaluated over periods as long as 2 years. Based on this review, recommendations are proposed for clinical practice and future research.

Publication types

  • Consensus Development Conference
  • Practice Guideline
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / diagnosis
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / therapy*
  • Biomedical Research
  • Child, Preschool
  • Early Medical Intervention / methods*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Parents / education