A randomized trial of 50 toddlers with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) found that those children exposed to an early-intervention curriculum supplemented with a curriculum emphasizing social behaviors showed improvement in their social behaviors compared with those exposed to the early intervention alone, according to a study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.
According to the authors, the effort is the first randomized trial to identify a key ingredient for improving the ability of a toddler with ASD to participate in socially engaged imitation, an important skill for social interaction (Landa RJ et al. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2011;52:13-21). The toddlers were randomized to participate for 6 months in one of two programs; both featured identical intensity, parental involvement, and teaching strategies, but only one included a supplemental curriculum focusing on socially engaged imitation, joint attention, and affect sharing.