One of the biggest challenges parents face after receiving an autism diagnosis is what their child’s treatment plan should include.
Taking into consideration the time, money, effort, commitment, and hope parents place in any number of therapies and interventions, providers are still unable to reliably predict which treatments will be effective for which children.
This often leads parents to simultaneously employ various treatment options without any assurance that they have a good fit for their child. We’ve reported that there are current studies underway toward this end and want to share one such study with you today.
In this study of twenty young children with autism, scientists used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure changes in brain activity before and after receiving sixteen weeks of Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT), a play-based, evidence-based behavioral treatment focused on development in core deficits associated with autism.
The researchers wanted to know if they could predict which children would show improvement with the PRT treatment by looking for neurobiomarkers – measurable objective characteristics in the brain. They did indeed identify a number of characteristics in brain regions associated with social information processing and social motivation that predicted the success of PRT.
This study is a step towards being able to answer the question: How do we know if a child will respond to treatment? Having the ability to predict whether a child will respond to a particular treatment will allow for the child to receive the intervention that they will most likely respond to, which will save families resources, time, and frustration. It also allows for treatments to be analyzed and possibly distilled down into the core features that make them successful for children, increasing a treatment’s effectiveness and usefulness to families.
A copy of the original study can be found here.