Intensity of quality supervision associated with treatment outcome for young children diagnosed with ASD receiving early and intensive behavior intervention.

Research indicates that children with Autism receiving early and intensive behavioral interventions may make significant gains on standardized measures of IQ, language and adaptive functioning (Howlin, 2005). However, there has been little research examining the relationship between supervision intensity and outcomes for children receiving early, intensive behavioral interventions.

Eikeseth et al (2009) describe a competent supervisor as someone who possesses the knowledge of advanced learning principles, as assessed through the Behavior Analysis Certification Board Examination. Additionally, a supervisor should have extensive clinical experience across a variety of domains (e.g., language, play, social, academic, daily living), experience working with a variety of learners (e.g., auditory, visual) and experience with individuals with varied behaviors. Furthermore, the consultant must have knowledge of assessment, demonstrate competency in report writing, be skilled at developing rapport with parents and teachers, and effectively manage and evaluate staff.

To examine whether intensity of supervision is associated with outcome in preschool-aged children with Autism who receive early, intensive behavior intervention, the authors assessed correlations between intensity of supervision and improvement in IQ, visual spatial IQ and adaptive functioning.

All 23 participants (6 girls) met the following criteria: (a) a diagnosis of Autism; (b) age at intake between 24-42 months; (c) absence of other severe medical conditions; and (d) outside of catchment area for Clinic-based services (Hayward, Eikeseth, Gale & Morgan, 2009). Supervision took place in the participant's home or school, during team meetings and sessions. The supervisors analyzed data, reviewed current programs and behavioral data, revised procedures, and provided feedback to team members. Additionally, new programs and interventions were introduced. Mean intensity of supervision per child per month was 5.2 hours, and ranged from 2.9 hours per month to 7.8 hours per month.

A licensed psychologist assessed intellectual functioning, visual spatial IQ, language functioning and adaptive behaviors both prior to and after treatment. Pearson correlations were conducted to assess the relationship between supervision intensity and changes in scores in the previously mentioned assessment areas. Data show that correlation of intensity of supervision and changes in IQ scores was significant. It is also noted that changes in IQ scores was also significantly correlated with visual-spatial IQ.

These findings are a relevant addition to the current literature and suggest that intensity of supervision, in addition to the intensity of treatment, treatment method, and pre-treatment functioning are variables that may affect children with Autism receiving early, intensive behavioral intervention.

FirstSteps has copies of all of these studies available...let your Program Director know if you are interested in further reading!

Eikeseth, S., Hayward, D., Gale, C., Gitlesen, J.P. & Eldevik, S. (2009). Intensity of supervision and outcome for preschool aged children receiving early and intensive behavioral interventions: A preliminary study. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 3, 67-73.

Hayward, D, Eikeseth, S., Gale, C. & Morgan, S. (2009). Assessing progress during treatment for young children with autism receiving intensive behavioural interventions. Autism, 13(6), 613-633.

Howlin, P. (2005). The effectiveness of interventions for children with autism. Journal of Neural Transmission. Supplementum, 69, 101-119.