_PUBLIC HEALTH Autism

_$11M Grant

A new grant will allow researchers in the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute to explore the connection between early detection of autism spectrum disorder and improved outcomes.

_Diana Robins

Robins is an associate professor in the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute and heads its Early Detection and Intervention for ASD research program.

Early detection is critical for children with autism spectrum disorder so they can get intervention that targets their needs. A Drexel researcher has received a grant for a study seeking to demonstrate the improved outcomes that can result from early detection and intervention.

The Autism Centers of Excellence grant for $11.4 million will fund work by Diana Robins, a professor in the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, seeking to link improved outcomes for children with autism directly to early detection and treatment.

Getting autism-specific treatment instead of just general treatment, like speech therapy, is important for young children on the spectrum, Robins says.
“Research indicates that children with autism respond best to intensive autism-specific treatment that involves one-on-one delivery from an expert, with specific goals targeting communication, social engagement and play,” Robins says. “Research also shows that children who start autism-specific intervention at younger ages make better progress than children who start when they are older.”

This study will link early childhood detection strategies to early intervention to see how children’s outcomes are affected by the time they reach kindergarten.

Among the areas that will be studied once the children in the study reach age 5 are their overall kindergarten readiness, social interaction skills and the quality of interactions they have with their parents.