Longitudinal follow-up of children with autism receiving targeted interventions on joint attention and play.

Center for Autism Research and Treatment, University of California at Los Angeles Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA.
Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 6.35). 05/2012; 51(5):487-95. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaac.2012.02.019
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This study examines the cognitive and language outcomes of children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) over a 5-year period after receiving targeted early interventions that focused on joint attention and play skills.
Forty children from the original study (n = 58) had complete data at the 5-year follow-up.
In all, 80% of children had achieved functional use of spoken language with baseline play level predicting spoken language at the 5-year follow-up. Of children who were using spoken language at age 8 years, several baseline behaviors predicted their later ability, including earlier age of entry into the study, initiating joint attention skill, play level, and assignment to either the joint attention or symbolic play intervention group. Only baseline play diversity predicted cognitive scores at age 8 years.
This study is one of the only long-term follow-up studies of children who participated in preschool early interventions aimed at targeting core developmental difficulties. The study findings suggest that focusing on joint attention and play skills in comprehensive treatment models is important for long-term spoken language outcomes.

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