Empirically supported comprehensive treatments for young children with autism

J Clin Child Psychol. 1998 Jun;27(2):168-79. doi: 10.1207/s15374424jccp2702_4.


Describes treatment of autism, a severe, chronic developmental disorder that results in significant lifelong disability for most persons, with few persons ever functioning in an independent and typical lifestyle. Within the past decade, a number of studies have reported significant changes in the outcomes of very young children with autism following intensive comprehensive treatment. The criteria for empirically supported treatments, as described by Lonigan, Elbert, and Johnson (this issue), were applied to reports of eight treatment efficacy studies published in peer-reviewed journals. Whereas positive outcomes are reported in every case, the field does not yet have a treatment that meets the present criteria for well-established or probably efficacious treatment. Hypothesized variables affecting outcomes that need to be rigorously tested include age at start of treatment, type of treatment used, intensity of treatment, and IQ and language levels at the start of treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Autistic Disorder / therapy*
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intelligence
  • Language Development
  • Male
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Psychotherapy / standards
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Social Adjustment
  • Treatment Outcome