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Assessing the Effectiveness of Early Intensive Behavior Intervention

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Autism can potentially present many obstacles in which both the parent and children will face when dealing with this particular disorder. Among many different symptoms or signs of autism, "children with this disorder deal with social and communication impairments that can and will effect everyday life” (Rogers and Vismara, 2008). Diagnosing this disorder can prove to be difficult at times; however, diagnosing autism early is very important for school aged children. Most children with autism get diagnosed at a relatively early age between the ages of 2 or 3 (Rogers and Vismara, 2008). The earlier autism is diagnosed the better. When children with autism enter into preschool it is important to provide the earliest interventions possible. By providing the earliest intervention possible it will allow for the children with autism to be able to improve the conditions that affect them such as communication, adaptive behaviors, intellect and socialization skills (Eldevik, Hasting, Jahr, and Hughes, 2011). In a study conducted by Eldevik, Hastings, Jahr and Hughes these researchers suggests that by offering early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI) it can possibly “improve adaptive behavior and social behaviors within many young children with autism” (Eldevik, Hasting, Jahr, and Hughes, 2011).
Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention, best known as EIBI is defined as “an evidence-based intervention using principles and procedures form Applied Behavior Analysis to teach adaptive behaviors to young children with autism spectrum disorders” (Cohen, Amerine-Dickens, and Smith, 2006). In the study conducted by Eldevik, Hastings, Jahr, and Hughes they used 31 preschoolers from ages 2-6 to assess the efficacy of EIBI. These students were compared to 12 other students (the control group) that were receiving a more traditional approach in pre-schools known as Treatment as Usual (TAU). In both groups, the students received the same constants, time of instruction, the same classroom sizes, and the same amount of teachers (3 teachers in a class setting). The only difference was the type of interventions that the students received. In the EIBI group, this teaching program consisted of the students performing certain activities according to levels basic, complex and abstract. For instance, on the basic level it would include completing tasks such as the student expressing his or her wants and needs, responding to simple request, matching objects to pictures (Eldevik, Hasting, Jahr, and Hughes, 2011). Once the student has mastered the basic level, he would move on to more complex skills such as imitation of fine motor and oral motor behaviors and recognizing objects upon request (Eldevik, Hasting, Jahr, and Hughes, 2011). After the complex skills were mastered, the student would then be introduced to more abstract concepts such as color, size, and adjectives were targeted (Eldevik, Hasting, Jahr, and Hughes, 2011). In addition to the educational proponent to EIBI, social skills were also targeted within the intervention. Social skills such as making friends, conversing with peers and parallel play were all shaped by positive reinforcement to hopefully evoke the correct behaviors and attitudes expected of the students (Eldevik, Hasting, Jahr, and Hughes, 2011). In the TAU group, this teaching program consisted of focusing more on the educational and communication components. For example, the typical format of instruction was similar to that of EIBI, in that the students would work on matching, responding to simple request and fine and gross motor skills. In addition, this intervention taught students how to communicate with symbols, pictures and hand signs in order for the children to express their needs. This program used both speech and sign in order to expand and enhance verbal communication unlike EIBI where speech was the main component of communication (Eldevik, Hasting, Jahr, and Hughes, 2011). Before the interventions were administered, the students were measured on intellectual functionality, adaptive behavior, communication, daily living and socialization (Eldevik, Hasting, Jahr, and Hughes, 2011). These five measurements of skills were recorded and both groups of students showed very similar percentages in all categories across the board. For instance, the students in EIBI group showed about 51.6% in intellectual functioning while the students in the TAU group reported 51.7%. Throughout the other categories each group showed about a 3% plus or minus difference (Eldevik, Hasting, Jahr, and Hughes, 2011). The students in either group were on the same level of each other at the beginning of the experiment. The interventions were utilized on the students for approximately two years. The outcomes of the interventions showed that EIBI “made statistically significant gain in IQ and adaptive behavior when compared to the group of students receiving TAU” (Eldevik, Hasting, Jahr, and Hughes, 2011). In all, the researchers reported that students in the EIBI improved their intellectually functioning, adaptive behavior, communication and social skills by about 7.48% (Eldevik, Hasting, Jahr, and Hughes, 2011). The TAU group reported that the students in this group did worse or there was no than when the program started. The students in the TAU group showed no change in intellectual function or adaptive behavior but showed about 3-5% decrease in communication, daily living and socialization (Eldevik, Hasting, Jahr, and Hughes, 2011). While EIBI seems to be the best intervention to use, this intervention still requires more research. From the study, it can be concluded that EIBI is perhaps the best intervention practice to use since the study showed that this particular intervention greatly enhanced the students’ intelligence quotient and adaptive behavior. The study is not sure why EIBI worked better than TAU as there is to be more research done but the researchers suggested that the consistent used of speech is what may have helped the students in some degree (Eldevik, Hasting, Jahr, and Hughes, 2011). One could see this intervention as promising in that it can greatly effective the lives of autistic students in a positive way (Cohen, Amerine-Dickens, and Smith, 2006). It is important for interventions to be started as soon as possible for children with autism so that they have a better quality of life. It seems the EIBI in comparison to TAU has more structure and levels in which it can provide the maximum learning experience for a student with autism thus creating skills that can be carried into the elementary school and throughout the individual’s life. Although not all children with autism benefit from this intervention, many autistic children have greatly benefited.


Cohen, H., Amerine-Dickens, M., & Smith, T. (2006). Early intensive behavioral treatment: Replication of the UCLA model in community setting. Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 27, 145-155.

Eldevik, S., Hastings, R., Jahr, E., & Hughes, J. (2011). Outcomes of behavioral intervention for children with autism in mainstream pre-school settings. The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 42, 210-220.

Rogers, S. J. & Vismara, L. A (2008). Evidenced-based comprehensive treatments for early autism. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 37, 8-38.

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