A new study due to be published on Friday by the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has concluded that a particular method of early intervention known as the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) can help rewire an autistic child's brain. That rewiring, according to the study, "resulted in gains in IQ, language and adaptive behavior of children with autism spectrum disorder."
The children that participated in the study all began the program when they were between 18 and 30 months old. When compared to their typical peers after time spent in the early intervention program, the children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) showed what the study referred to as "normalized patterns of brain activity."
Here is some of the key information regarding this study and method of early intervention among children with ASD.
* According to a report on the study by CBS News, boys outnumbered girls in the study by a ratio of 3-to-1. In the general population, boys with ASD outnumber girls by a ratio of 5-to-1.
* Dr. Geraldine Dawson, the lead author of this study and a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is also the Chief Science Officer of Autism Speaks, one of the largest advocacy groups in the U.S. for those with ASD.
* Half of the 48 children who participated in the study were signed up for early intervention using the ESDM method for a period of two years, according to the CBS News report. The other half were assigned community-based intervention programs along with other materials and programs.
* At the end of the two-year period, the children were given EEG scans to measure and document brain activity. According to a report by CNN, researchers were only able to get EEG data on 60 percent of the children, but as that percentage was the same in both the control and the ASD group, scientists were able to gather enough data to reach their conclusions.
* The children's brains were scanned while they were shown pictures of both faces and toys, to measure their response to social and non-social stimuli. Those children who had been in the ESDM program for two years showed brain patterns that were "identical to typical 4-year olds," according to the CNN report.
* The study claimed in its report to be the first of its kind to "demonstrate that early behavioral intervention is associated with normalized patterns of brain activity, which is associated with improvements in social behavior, in young children with autism spectrum disorder."
Vanessa Evans is a musician and freelance writer based in Michigan, with a lifelong interest in
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