Early Intervention With Potentially Autistic Babies Could Eliminate Disorder’s Effects
Raising a baby who shows signs of autism is a difficult experience, but a new child-rearing method can seemingly reverse autism in children.
Potentially autistic children, who often display characteristics of the disorder within their first year, seem to have very little interest in person-to-person interaction and facial recognition.
In a University of California Davis study, researchers studied seven parents with 6-month-olds showing initial signs of autism.
Sally Ozonoff, one of the study’s lead researchers, says it was crucial to start the experiment young.
According to Ozonoff,
We want to make referrals for early intervention as soon as there are signs that a baby might be developing autism… In most parts of the country and the world, services that address autism-specific developmental skills are just not available for infants this young.
Over the course of six months, parents worked to increase their children’s interest in faces, voices and interaction.
Researchers say that parents of autistic offspring often need encouragement from third parties to continue working with their infants. It can be upsetting to see little response from a child, so they often feel discouraged and give up.
Unfortunately, that’s the opposite of what the children need. The study, based on a system called the Early Denver Start Model, followed up with parents after six months of work. What they saw seemed miraculous: diminishing signs of autism.
By the age of 3, babies who participated in treatment had still shown no signs of autism.
But Sally Rogers, the study’s lead researcher, said the most important influence was parenting.
It was the parents – not therapists – who did that… It’s the little moments of diapering, feeding, playing on the floor, going for a walk, being on a swing, that are the critical learning moments for babies.
Researchers stress that this is a first foray into the world of infant autism, and that follow-up studies will be needed to determine the efficacy of the treatment.