The Center for Autism and Related Disorders announces the outcomes of its study on 14 children with autism, who achieved substantial levels of growth, including the removal of the autism diagnosis with nearly half of the participants.
A landmark study conducted by the Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc. (CARD), the world’s largest provider of early intensive behavioral intervention for children with autism, shows children with autism are capable of making dramatic gains across all areas of functioning, including recovery from autism. The report was released, November 11th in Phoenix, Arizona by CARD Founder and Executive Director / Behavior Analyst Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh.
Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder that is marked by the presence of impaired social interaction and communication and a restricted repertoire of activities and interests. Autism is currently estimated to affect as many as 1 in 110 children, in America and is four times more common in boys than in girls.
(Pictured Above: Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh and Megan Howell (recovered child)
In 2007, the state of Arizona allocated funds for a three-year program that evaluated the effects of behavioral intervention for 14 young children with autism. All children received 25 or more hours per week of one-to-one teaching and therapy, by trained professionals. Their therapy consisted of intensive teaching, based on the principles and procedures of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), a scientifically proven treatment for autism. The CARD Model of ABA, which focuses on blending intensive, structured teaching, with less structured, play-based behavioral intervention techniques, was implemented in the study. Treatment plans were based on identifying what motivates the children and based treatment activities on the desires and interests of children involved. As part of the study, the CARD treatment integrated a careful assessment of each child’s strengths and deficits and directly addressed each area of need through targeted teaching programs.
(Pictured above:Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh and Arizona Legislators at press conference.)
“I have followed the progress of these children over the past three years and the results are spectacular,” says Arizona Senate President-Elect Russell Pearce.
In accordance with previous research, CARD found that many of the children made substantial gains in cognitive and adaptive functioning as well as language skills. Most of the children also demonstrated significant improvements in executive functioning. After treatment, the average T-score for the group on the BRIEF, a measure of overall executive functioning, was 61, well below the cut-off for clinically significant impairment. Parent stress was also decreased dramatically, with a mean post-treatment percentile score of 68, also well below the cut-off for clinical significance. In addition, 8 out of 14 children were functioning in the average range on the Vineland ABC, a measure of overall adaptive functioning, whereas only 2 of 14 were in the average range before treatment began. Dramatic improvements are evident for approximately half of the participants, with 43% of children no longer displaying clinical symptoms of autism.
(Pictured Above: The Song Family, with son who recovered from autism during study)
“My daughter is now recovered from autism,” says Elizabeth Howell, parent of study participant. “When people meet her and interact with her, they cannot believe that she ever had an autism diagnosis. My daughter is an outstanding student in an elementary classroom with typical peers without any aides or support. Our family now does things that we previously only dreamed of doing – we are like every other family on the block.”
Among the study’s major findings is that children who developed language skills early in therapy made greater gains over time. In addition to the children who recovered from autism, the other half of the program participants made substantial gains as well. In addition, children who were most severely affected by autism made substantial gains in their ability to communicate and live independently. Even the children whose progress was the slowest experienced significant decreases in challenging behaviors and increases in independent communication and leisure skills, thereby resulting in improved self-reliance and quality of life.
“The behavioral intervention was intensive, comprehensive, and high-quality,” says Dr. Amy Kenzer, CARD Research Manager. “These factors play a major role in the outcomes observed.”
“This project provides further proof that autism is treatable and that behavioral intervention is effective, when done properly,” says Dr. Jonathan Tarbox, CARD Director of Research and Development.
What makes this study unique is the successful partnership between the state of Arizona, CARD (a private agency), and families affected by autism.
“We want to particularly thank the incredible families we worked with,” says Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh. “One of the most important factors that impact the effectiveness of treatment is the involvement and dedication of a child’s parents and we could not ask for better parents than we have the privilege of working with in Arizona.”
The program is now a model for the implementation of effective, comprehensive, intensive behavioral intervention for children with autism.
For questions regarding this study, contact Dr. Jonathan Tarbox at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.:
The Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc. (CARD) is the world’s largest and most experienced organizations effectively treating children with autism and related disorders. Following the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis, a behavioral treatment approach that has been thoroughly and empirically validated by the scientific community, CARD develops individualized treatment plans that focus on teaching vital skills.
CARD’s extensive curriculum consists of programs to teach language and communication, social skills, self-help skills, fine and gross motor skills, play skills, social cognitive skills and executive functioning skills. Programming in each of these areas follows a hierarchical advancement that utilizes combinations of errorless teaching, discrete trial training, fluency and natural environment training. The CARD program supports biomedical interventions for autism and promotes the use of these interventions to stabilize the child’s medical condition prior to and during behavioral intervention. CARD is committed to science as the most objective and reliable approach to evaluating treatment for autism. CARD’s mission is to conduct empirical research on the assessment and treatment of autism and to disseminate research findings and derived technology through publication and education of professionals and the public. While the primary focus of CARD’s research is ABA-based methods of assessment and treatment, CARD’s overall approach to research includes any topic which may hold promise for producing information that could improve the lives of individuals with autism.
CARD provides both regional and remote services around the globe through its 20 satellite sites in Arizona, Australia, California (12), Illinois, New York (2), New Zealand, Texas, Virginia, and its affiliate sites in the United Arab Emirates and South Africa. With a mission to increase access to the most effective treatments, CARD has developed strong working relationships with parent organizations, schools, government agencies all over the world and across six continents. CARD was founded by Executive Director Doreen Granpeesheh, PhD, BCBA-D, in 1990.
For more information about the Center for Autism and Related Disorders, visit: www.centerforautism.com.