Biological Child and Adolescent Psychiatry - Original Article

Journal of Neural Transmission

, Volume 119, Issue 9, pp 1011-1021

The Frankfurt early intervention program FFIP for preschool aged children with autism spectrum disorder: a pilot study

  • Christine M. FreitagAffiliated withDepartment of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy, JW Goethe University Frankfurt am Main Email author 
  • , Sabine Feineis-MatthewsAffiliated withDepartment of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy, JW Goethe University Frankfurt am Main
  • , Jennifer ValerianAffiliated withDepartment of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy, JW Goethe University Frankfurt am Main
  • , Karoline TeufelAffiliated withDepartment of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy, JW Goethe University Frankfurt am Main
  • , Christian WilkerAffiliated withDepartment of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy, JW Goethe University Frankfurt am Main

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Abstract

Different early intervention programs, developed predominantly in the US, for preschool aged children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have been published. Several systematic review articles including a German Health Technology Assessment on behavioural and skill-based early interventions in children with ASD reported insufficient evidence and a substantial problem of generalisability to the German context. In Germany, approx. 2–5 h early intervention is supported by social services. Here, we report the results of a 1 year pre–post pilot study on a developmentally based social pragmatic approach, the Frankfurt Early Intervention program FFIP. In FFIP, individual 2:1, behaviourally and developmentally based therapy with the child is combined with parent training and training of kindergarten teachers. Treatment frequency is 2 h/week. Outcome measures were the Vineland Adaptive Behaviour Scales II (VABS), mental age and the ADOS severity score. Improvements after 1 year were observed for the VABS socialisation scale and the mental age quotient/IQ (medium effect sizes). Results are comparable with several other studies with a similar or slightly higher therapeutic intensity implementing comparable or different early intervention methods or programs. Compared to most high-intensity programs (30–40 h/week), lower cognitive gains were observed. Results have to be replicated and assessed by a randomized-controlled study before any final conclusions can be drawn.

Keywords

Autism spectrum disorder Early intervention Behaviour therapy Outcome Toddlers