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EBP Compendium: Summary of Systematic Review

National Health and Medical Research Council Career Development Fellowship; Smart State Fellowship from the Department of Innovation, Queensland (Australia)
Efficacy of Applied Behavioral Intervention in Preschool Children with Autism for Improving Cognitive, Language, and Adaptive Behavior: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Spreckley, M., & Boyd, R. (2009).
Journal of Pediatrics, 154(3), 338-344

Indicators of Review Quality:

The review addresses a clearly focused question No
Criteria for inclusion of studies are provided Yes
Search strategy is described in sufficient detail for replication Yes
Included studies are assessed for study quality Yes
Quality assessments are reproducible Yes

Description: This is a review and meta-analysis of systematic reviews and randomized or quasi-randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that look at the effectiveness of applied behavior intervention (ABI) programs for preschool children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Question(s) Addressed:

Question not specifically stated.

Population: Preschool children between 18 months and 6 years with a diagnosis of ASD or pervasive developmental disorder (PDD).

Intervention/Assessment: Applied behavior interventions which included direct behavior management for the child, parent education and training, and consultation with caregivers.

Number of Studies Included: 13

Years Included: 1982 – November 2007



  • Treatment
    • Cognition/Language
      • Applied Behavioral Analysis/Discrete Trial Training - “Four randomized or quasirandomized clinical trials met inclusion criteria and had primary outcomes analyzed. The meta-analyses of these studies showed that ABI did not result in significant improvement in cognitive, language, or adaptive behavioral outcomes compared with standard care” (p. 342). 

Keywords: Autism Spectrum Disorders, Behavioral Treatments

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Added to Compendium: December 2011

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