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Keywords:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD);
  • Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention (EIBI);
  • autism-specific nursery provision;
  • outcome

Background:  This prospective study compared outcome for pre-school children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) receiving autism-specific nursery provision or home-based Early Intensive Behavioural Interventions (EIBI) in a community setting.

Methods:  Forty-four 23- to 53-month-old children with ASD participated (28 in EIBI home-based programmes; 16 in autism-specific nurseries). Cognitive, language, play, adaptive behaviour skills and severity of autism were assessed at intake and 2 years later.

Results:  Both groups showed improvements in age equivalent scores but standard scores changed little over time. At follow-up, there were no significant group differences in cognitive ability, language, play or severity of autism. The only difference approaching significance (p = .06), in favour of the EIBI group, was for Vineland Daily Living Skills standard scores. However, there were large individual differences in progress, with intake IQ and language level best predicting overall progress.

Conclusions:  Home-based EIBI, as implemented in the community, and autism-specific nursery provision produced comparable outcomes after two years of intervention.