Integrating the early start Denver model into Israeli community autism spectrum disorder preschools: Effectiveness and treatment response predictors Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Early intensive intervention has been shown to significantly affect the development of children with autism spectrum disorder. However, the costly implementation of such interventions limits their wide dissemination in the community. This study examined an integration of the Early Start Denver Model into community preschool programs for children with autism spectrum disorder in Israel. Four community preschools implemented the preschool-based Early Start Denver Model and four implemented a multidisciplinary developmental intervention which is widely applied in Israeli community autism spectrum disorder preschools. Fifty-one children (aged 33–57 months) participated in the study. Twenty-six attended the preschool-based Early Start Denver Model preschools and twenty-five attended the multidisciplinary developmental intervention settings. Groups were comparable on age, developmental functioning, and socio-economic status. Compared to the multidisciplinary developmental intervention group, children in the preschool-based Early Start Denver Model treatment made greater gains on blinded measures of overall cognitive development, receptive and expressive language skills, as well as on parent- and teacher-reported adaptive communication and socialization abilities. In the preschool-based Early Start Denver Model group, children with lower symptom severity, higher adaptive functioning, and receptive language abilities at pre-treatment showed greater improvement. This study documents the successful integration of an Early Start Denver Model intervention into pre-existing community preschools, underlining the importance of disseminating evidence-based early intervention in community settings. Lay Abstract Early intensive intervention has been shown to significantly affect the development of children with Autism. However, the costly implementation of such interventions limits their wide dissemination in the community. This study examined an integration of a research-supported early intensive intervention model called the Early Start Denver Model into community preschool programs for children with Autism in Israel. Four community preschools implemented the preschool-based Early Start Denver Model and four implemented the existing multidisciplinary developmental intervention which is widely applied in Israeli community preschools for children with autism. Fifty-one children (aged 33–57 months) participated in the study. Twenty-six attended the preschool-based Early Start Denver Model preschools and twenty-five attended the multidisciplinary developmental intervention preschools. Before the intervention began, groups were comparable on children’s age and developmental functioning and on families’ socio-economic status. Results showed that, compared to the multidisciplinary developmental intervention group, children in the preschool-based Early Start Denver Model treatment group made greater gains on measures of overall cognitive development, language skills, as well as on parent- and teacher-reported adaptive communication and socialization abilities. Children who had lower autism symptom severity, higher adaptive functioning and better language understanding abilities before taking part in the preschool-based Early Start Denver Model program showed greater improvements following it. This study documents the successful implementation of an intensive early intervention program in pre-existing community preschools, underlining the importance of the integration of research-supported intervention programs into community settings.

publication date

  • 2020