FRIDAY, March 25 (HealthDay News) -- The level of interest
toddlers with early signs of autism show in toys may predict how
well they will respond to a parent-guided treatment program, a new
The study included 51 boys and 11 girls younger than age 2 who
met the criteria for autism disorders. The children were randomly
assigned to receive either standard treatment (the control group)
or enrolled in the Hanen's More Than Words program, which is
designed to promote communication, language development and social
In the program, parents learn ways to help their toddlers
communicate, such as encouraging eye contact and saying simple
sentences from the child's perspective.
Overall, the communication skills of the children in the program
showed no improvement compared to those in the control group.
However, the program did appear to benefit a subset of children.
Among toddlers who played with fewer toys when they were assessed
at the start of the study, those enrolled in the program showed
more improvement than those in the control group. Specifically,
they had more instances of making eye contact, pointing or reaching
for items of interest, and showing or giving a toy to a researcher,
according to the report.
This effect lasted for at least four months after the program
ended, the researchers noted.
The study, funded by the Marino Autism Research Institute and
the advocacy organization Autism Speaks, was published online March
22 in the
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
"This report adds to our emerging knowledge about which interventions work for which kids. It will help match children with the right intervention and not waste time enrolling them in treatments that are not well-suited for them," co-author Wendy Stone, director of the Autism Center at the University of Washington, said in a university news release.
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
has more about