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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A comparison of a group ABA (GABA) verbal behaviour model of early intensive behavioral intervention and pivotal response treatment for children with autism Stock, Richard Allen


The autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are characterized by a triad of impairments in social interaction, communication, and behavior. Once considered untreatable, research has identified comprehensive behavioral intervention as the most well established treatment option. To date, the UCLA method of early intensive behavioral intervention has received the most large-scale research attention and empirical support. However, alternative behavioral methods have also emerged, including the Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) and the Verbal Behavior (VB) methods. This study compared the outcomes of 14 children with autism participating in a community-based program based on the VB method to the outcomes for 14 children participating in a community-based program based on the PRT method, over a 12-month period. Assessments were conducted to measure cognitive, receptive and expressive language, and adaptive behavior skills, as well as problem behavior and parenting stress. Independent t-tests confirmed the groups were well matched for both baseline cognitive ability and chronological age. A 2 x 2 mixed model analysis of variance showed statistically significant changes over 12 months in IQ scores, receptive and expressive language age equivalents, and problem behavior scores. Significant findings were not found for either adaptive behavior scores or parenting stress scores. Changes in cognitive and adaptive behavior scores were similar to those reported in published UCLA-based studies of similar intensity. Study limitations and recommendations for future research are provided. Although additional research is needed to examine the long-term effectiveness of the programs examined in this study, it appears that they both hold promise as effective autism early intervention approaches that are relatively cost-effective.

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