PURPOSE: Early and Intensive Behavioral Treatments are considered to be evidence-based interventions for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Nevertheless, children with ASD might not always have the opportunity to benefit from intensive treatment; new, more accessible and alternative treatment options need to be tested. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the Combined Low-intensive Psychoeducational Intervention (CLI-PEI) delivered to preschoolers with ASD at the end of the pre-primary school day.
METHODS: A quasi-experimental design study, namely a pretest-posttest alternative-treatment comparison groups design, was used. Treatment sessions were carried out over a period of 12 months. Forty-three individuals with autism were included in the study: 24 received the CLI-PEI and 19 were administered the Treatment As Usual. A pre- and posttreatment assessment was carried out using the Psychoeducational Profile-Third edition and the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale.
RESULTS: The children who received the CLI-PEI showed better gains in both developmental and maladaptive behaviors; furthermore, increased skills were found in all adaptive domains.
CONCLUSIONS: The CLI-PEI might seems to be a viable treatment option for children with ASD, when intensive behavioral treatments are not accessible. Implication for rehabilitation Children with ASD might not always have the opportunity to benefit from intensive treatment. The identification of more accessible, less intensive and less expensive evidence-based psychoeducational interventions might represent an appealing challenge for rehabilitation therapists. Less intensive and less expensive evidence-based interventions might also represent a viable option for children and their families, especially in communities with limited resources for autism. A pragmatic approach including components from evidence-based treatments might guarantee flexibility and the possibility to implement an intervention well-tailored to the specific child needs. CLI-PEI for preschoolers with ASD seems to be a promising pragmatic approach, promoting improvements in developmental, adaptive and maladaptive domains.