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Autism Research and Treatment
Volume 2012, Article ID 462531, 10 pages
Clinical Study

Meta-Analysis of Studies Incorporating the Interests of Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders into Early Intervention Practices

1Orelena Hawks Puckett Institute, 8 Elk Mountain Road, Asheville, NC 28804, USA
2Orelena Hawks Puckett Institute, 128 South Sterling Street, Morganton, NC 28655, USA

Received 16 November 2011; Revised 9 January 2012; Accepted 1 March 2012

Academic Editor: L. Eugene Arnold

Copyright © 2012 Carl J. Dunst et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Incorporating the interests and preferences of young children with autism spectrum disorders into interventions to promote prosocial behavior and decrease behavior excesses has emerged as a promising practice for addressing the core features of autism. The efficacy of interest-based early intervention practices was examined in a meta-analysis of 24 studies including 78 children 2 to 6 years of age diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. Effect size analyses of intervention versus nonintervention conditions and high-interest versus low-interest contrasts indicated that interest-based intervention practices were effective in terms of increasing prosocial and decreasing aberrant child behavior. Additionally, interest-based interventions that focused on two of the three core features of autism spectrum disorders (poor communication, poor interpersonal relationships) were found most effective in influencing child outcomes. Implications for very early intervention are discussed in terms addressing the behavior markers of autism spectrum disorders before they become firmly established.