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New Study Adds To Evidence of Effectiveness of Behavioral Health Treatments for Children With Autism

November 02, 2009

(December 2, 2009) -- Earlier this week, a study led by Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer, Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., on an early intervention program was released in the journal Pediatrics. The study examined an ABA-based intervention called the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) and found the treatment to be extremely effective for improving IQ, language ability, and social interaction in very young children diagnosed with autism.

The release of this study came as good news to autism advocacy groups like Autism Speaks that are working to pursue passage of autism insurance reform in Congress and in state legislatures across the country for several reasons:




  • Autism Speaks has always pursued autism insurance reform legislation that has required health insurance companies to provide coverage of evidence-based autism therapies, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). The ESDM intervention that is proven effective by this new study adds some developmental and relationship-based techniques to a core model of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), thereby adding to the weight of evidence to support the efficacy of behavioral health treatments.
  • The ESDM intervention that is proven effective by this new study was administered to children that were not yet of school-age and was delivered and supervised by medical professionals, not by teachers or educational professionals, adding to the argument that behavioral health treatments are medical in nature and appropriate for coverage by health insurance.
  • The results of this study underscore the importance of early detection and early intervention in autism. Given that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all 18-24 month-old children be screened for autism, it is crucial not only that we can offer parents effective therapies for children in this age range, but also that parents are able to afford it. It is for this reason that insurance coverage of medically necessary, evidence-based autism therapies is so necessary.

Read an abstract of this study here