Thursday, May 17, 2012

Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI) for Autism

Early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI) is considered a central feature of intervention programming for children with autism. EIBI programs are among the most and best researched of the psychoeducational interventions. Several research publications and meta-analysis indicate that early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI) may improve the quality of life and level of functioning for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). EIBI programs are based on applied behavior analysis (ABA), a behavioral approach that is well supported in the research literature. ABA can be thought of as an inclusive term that encompasses a number of concepts and techniques used in the assessment, treatment, and prevention of behavioral problems in children with ASD. Perhaps the best known technique within EIBI is called discrete trial training. This method involves breaking behaviors down into subcategories and teaching each subcategory through repetition, positive reinforcement, and prompts that are gradually removed from the program as the child progresses. The principles of ABA are also incorporated within other interventions and programs such as incidental teaching and pivotal response training.
EIBI programs have typically focused on preschool and young children. Research now suggests that school-age children with ASD may benefit as much as younger children from this approach and that EIBI programs can be successfully adapted to school settings. Although there is little professional disagreement that EIBI is an effective treatment, on average, for children with autism, we should be mindful that it does not produce significant changes in all areas of children’s functioning or result in similar gains for all children. Moreover, EIBI may not be appropriate for all children. While EIBI is an important and effective intervention approach, there is a need for further research documenting the maintenance of gains of EIBI and long-term outcomes.

Further information on evidence-based treatment/intervention for autism is available from the National Autism Center.
Lee A. Wilkinson, PhD, CCBT, NCSP is author of the award-winning book, A Best Practice Guide to Assessment and Intervention for Autism and Asperger Syndrome in Schools, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. He is also editor of a text in the American Psychological Association (APA) School Psychology Book Series, Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children and Adolescents: Evidence-Based Assessment and Intervention in Schools, and author of the book, Overcoming Anxiety and Depression on the Autism Spectrum: A Self-Help Guide Using CBT. His latest book is A Best Practice Guide to Assessment and Intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorder in Schools, (2nd Edition).

© Lee A. Wilkinson, PhD

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