Taken from:

Clinical Practice Guideline, Report of the Recommendations, Autism / Pervasive Developmental Disorders, Assesment and Intervention for Young Children,  (Age 0-3 Years)







Intensive Behavioral and Educational Intervention Programs

The three basic elements of intensive behavioral and educational intervention programs include:

  1. systematic use of behavioral teaching techniques and intervention procedures
  2. intensive direct instruction by the therapist, usually on a one-to-one basis
  3. extensive parent training and support so that parents can provide additional hours of intervention
Evidence Ratings: [A] = Strong [B] = Moderate [C] = Limited [D1] = Opinion/No evidence meeting criteria [D2] = Literature not reviewed


Using principles of applied behavioral analysis for interventions

  1. It is recommended that principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA) and behavior intervention strategies be included as an important element of any intervention program for young children with autism. [A]

Frequency, intensity, and duration of intervention

  1. It is recommended that intensive behavioral programs include as a minimum approximately 20 hours per week of individualized behavioral intervention using applied behavioral analysis techniques (not including time spent by parents). [A]

  2. It is recommended that the precise number of hours of behavioral intervention vary depending on a variety of child and family characteristics. Considerations in determining the frequency and intensity of intervention include age, severity of autistic symptoms, rate of progress, other health considerations, tolerance of the child for the intervention, and family participation. [A]
  1. In deciding upon the frequency and intensity of a behavioral intervention, it is important to recognize that:
    • In the studies reviewed, effective interventions based on ABA techniques used between 18 and 40 hours per week of intensive behavioral intervention by a therapist trained in this method.
    • Based on the available scientific evidence, it is not possible to accurately predict the optimal number of hours that will be effective for any given child. [A]


  2. It is recommended that the number of hours of intensive behavioral intervention be periodically reviewed and revised. Monitoring the child's progress may lead to a conclusion that hours need to be increased or decreased. [A]

  3. It is important to consider revising the intervention plan when the child shows either significant improvement or a lack of improvement. [A]  

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