An early behavioral intervention may not only improve behaviors in young children with autism but it could also lead to “striking” brain changes, according to new imaging research.
A small case series study showed that after receiving a pivotal response treatment (PRT) intervention, the participating children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), who were only 5 years of age, showed significant improvements in adaptive behavior as well as in communication. They also had increased activation in brain regions that support social perception, as shown by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans.
“I think this is the first time fMRI has been used to identify neural correlates of response to a treatment such as this. And parents really like it,” co-investigator Fred R. Volkmar, MD, director of the Child Study Center at the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, and chief of child psychiatry at the Children’s Hospital at Yale–New Haven, told Medscape Medical News.
The study was published online October 27 in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
The PRT intervention includes parental training and uses motivational play activities in its methods. Although this initial analysis focused only on 2 children, Dr. Volkmar reported that the results have led to a new full-scale study that includes 60 children.
–Deborah Brauser, Medscape.com