An Evaluation of the relationship between intensity and learning outcomes in the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI) is a well-established treatment for autism spectrum disorders (ASD), however many questions remained unanswered by research. Among the most consistently debated questions is the issue of intensity, that is, the number of hours per week treatment should be delivered to produce best outcomes. Ample research has been published showing that 30-40 hours per week of treatment produces robust outcomes but agencies who fund treatment often question whether such a high level of intensity is necessary and relatively few studies have directly compared higher with lower intensity treatment. The current study evaluated the relationship between treatment intensity and learning rate in a large and geographically heterogeneous group of children receiving behavioral intervention in real-life community-based settings. In the present study, results indicated a linear relationship between treatment intensity and skill acquisition, . where greater number of treatment hours consistently predicted greater amounts of learning over time. Results of the present study add to the existing support for higher intensity EIBI programs for children with autism spectrum disorders