New Research Suggests More Intervention May Not Increase Benefits for Autistic Kids

Healthcare professionals normally recommend higher intensity interventions when a child is diagnosed with autism, amounting to roughly 40 hours weekly to support their development. Now a new study has determined that additional hours of intervention for autistic children did not offer any increased benefits.

The study was led by UNC School of Medicine’s Micheal Sandbank, as well as other investigators across America. For their study, the investigators obtained data from early-childhood intervention studies that involved more than 9,000 kids between 0 and 8 years of age. Once the data was obtained, the researchers carried out a meta-analysis to find out if increased interventions offered more benefits for young autistic kids, as compared to less interventions.

There are different intervention methods that can be provided to young children on the autism spectrum. Developmental interventions center on improving a child’s social interaction and engagement via play with their caregivers. Children go through these sessions for only a couple of hours a week. Behavioral interventions are often intensive and teach cognitive and functional skills via one-on-one teaching.

On the other hand, naturalistic developmental behavioral interventions combine developmental and behavioral approaches.

To investigate the impact of amount of intervention, the investigators measured the duration, intensity and cumulative intensity. Considering these metrics, the investigators determined that intervention outcomes didn’t improve as interventions were made more intensive.

The first author of the study, Sandbank, stated that there wasn’t enough evidence to support the argument that increasing intervention produced better outcomes. She recommended that practitioners think about the amount of intervention appropriate for an autistic child.

Currently, the Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention is the recommended approach for autistic children in the United States. The present clinical guidelines on intensive intervention came from a 1980’s study which determined that autistic children who underwent 40 hours of behavioral intervention weekly had more cognitive improvement. This was in comparison to children who underwent only 10 hours of intervention weekly.

However, subsequent research on behavioral intervention techniques are lacking in quality, having offered different results. It should be noted also that most studies have muddled up intervention approach with amount of intervention.

Last year, Sandbank’s research determined that most low-quality studies had filled the field, and few studies sufficiently assessed if interventions could have adverse harms or effects. She noted that there was a need for more high-quality primary studies in order to determine effective intervention amounts.

This study’s findings suggest that healthcare professionals should steer clear of offering any particular amount of intervention as a default. The investigators’ findings were reported in “JAMA Pediatrics.”

This growing body of information regarding what does or doesn’t work during interventions to treat autistic children could provide additional helpful insights to entities such as PaxMedica Inc. (OTC: PXMD) that are focused on bringing the next generation of autism spectrum disorder treatments into the market.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to PaxMedica Inc. (OTC: PXMD) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/PXMD

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