Predictors of Early Intervention Effectiveness in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

By Marlena N. Smith

In a recent study, Itzchak and Zachor identified both child and parental traits that may predict the effectiveness of early intervention in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Research has shown that children with ASD receiving early intervention progress at different rates. Itzchak and Zachor set out to investigate various factors that may predict treatment outcome in children with ASD.

Participants included 78 children with ASD, ages 15-35 months. Evaluations were conducted prior to the introduction of early intervention and after one year of treatment. The participants were evaluated via measures of adaptive functioning, symptom severity, and verbal and nonverbal skills.

Following a year of treatment, the participants showed significant gains in verbal skills and demonstrated decreased symptom severity. Various characteristics were found to predict treatment success. Results indicated that:

• Greater verbal skills prior to treatment, specifically in children with more severe ASD symptoms, and older maternal age predicted stronger gains in adaptive functioning.
• Less severe ASD symptoms and younger child age prior to treatment, as well as older maternal age and greater maternal education predicted greater cognitive outcomes.

Various child and parental traits were found to predict the effectiveness of early intervention in children with ASD. Findings suggest that both biological and environmental features influence treatment outcome. Further research regarding predictors of treatment success is warranted.


Itzchak, E. B., & Zachor, D. A. (in press). Who benefits from early intervention in autism spectrum disorders? Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. doi:10.1016/j.rasd.2010.04.018.

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