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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 April 2007, 00:04 GMT 01:04 UK
Home tutors 'help autistic young'
autistic child
Autism can lead to a life of isolation
Autistic children as young as three can raise their IQ levels with intensive tutoring, researchers say.

A two-year study into the impact of early intensive behavioural intervention (EIBI) found positive changes in language and social skills.

The regime involves children receiving one-to-one tutoring at home for 25 hours a week over a two-year period.

The researchers, from Southampton University, also found parents rose to the challenge of the intensive course.

The results showed that IQ levels increased among two thirds of the children receiving the early intervention, "very substantially" for more than a quarter of them.

For example one child moved from an IQ of 30 up to 70 and another from an IQ of 72 to 115.

Participants also saw an improvement in motor and social skills.

'Rapid improvements'

The deputy head of Southampton University's school of psychology, Professor Bob Remington, said: "This form of teaching can, in many cases, lead to major change.

Twenty-five hours home therapy a week is a big commitment for children and parents alike
Prof Bob Remington

"In practice, the positive changes we see in IQ, language and daily living skills can make a real difference to the future lives of children with autism."

But he warned that parents and children embarking on a programme of EIBI faced a lot of hard work.

"Twenty-five hours home therapy a week is a big commitment for children and parents alike," he said.

"Before the research began we wondered if such intensive work would increase the emotional and psychological demands of childrearing, as teaching basic skills needs a lot of dedication and patience and family organisation has to adapt to the ever-present home tutors.

"In fact most parents took this in their stride.

"The reasons are clear: it's harder to be helpless than it is to get involved in teaching, and in most cases our parents saw rapid improvements in their children's skills and behaviour."

The National Autistic Society cautiously welcomed the study.

A spokesperson said: "As the nature of autism is so complex, many interventions have been developed over the years and many competing claims made for their effectiveness, while few interventions have been independently or scientifically evaluated.

"Quality evaluation of any therapy requires more than one study.

"It is vital that people affected by autism have access to reliable information about approaches which may meet their individual needs."


SEE ALSO
Black pupils 'are treated worse'
02 Mar 07 |  Education
Minister vows autism cash review
16 Sep 06 |  Education
Calls for better autism schooling
23 May 06 |  Education
School inclusion 'can be abuse'
16 May 06 |  Education
Autism
03 Mar 05 |  Medical notes

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