Autism is a developmental disorder that appears in the first three years of life, and affects the brain's normal development of social and communication skills, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
ESDM is thought to stimulate the kind of brain activity associated with the ability to recognize and perceive social information and language.
While babies and young children without autism are drawn to view such social stimuli as faces, those with autism tend to focus on objects instead.
The research involved 48 male and female children diagnosed with autism between 18 and 30 months of age. The children were randomly assigned to receive either ESDM therapy or other community intervention for two years.
Those in the ESDM group received about 20 hours a week of therapy from trained clinicians plus five hours of intervention directly from their parents, who were specially trained. The other group of children received a similar number of hours of therapy from a variety of community-based programs that did not use the ESDM approach.
After two years, all of the children were given EEGs while looking at both faces and objects. Their EEGs were compared with those of children of comparable age without autism.
"Children with autism who received ESDM had greater brain activity when looking at faces than did those who did not get ESDM therapy," Rogers said.
Twice as many of the children who received ESDM therapy showed greater brain activation when looking at faces rather than objects, such as toys, which is considered more typical of a child without autism. But the majority of those in the community therapy groups showed the reverse, or autistic pattern, responding more to objects than faces.
One expert reacted to the study with guarded enthusiasm.
Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at t
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