Comparison of EIBI and Specialist Nursery Provision for Pre-School Children with Autism

SurveyProject Area: Two-year follow-up study of early intensive home-based behavioural intervention and specialist pre-school provision for children with autism spectrum disorders

Research Group: Patricia Howlin, Iliana Magiati, Tony Charman, Jo Moss

Institutions: Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, St. George's University of London and the UCL Institute of Child Health

Funding: Action Research, St George's University of London, Greek Government Department of Education

Aims: To compare the long term effects of EIBI and specialist nursery provision for pre-school children with autism

Method: 44 children with a confirmed diagnosis of autism aged between 23 and 53 months were followed up after 2 years of either EIBI (n=26) or specialist nursery provision (n=18) and subsequently again after a further 5 years. Children in both groups were identified within 3 months of beginning their intervention and the groups are matched for mental age and severity of autistic symptomatology. Outcome measures focused on IQ, adaptive behaviour language and severity of autistic symptoms.

Results: At the two year follow up both groups showed progress in some, but not all, key domains. There were no significant group difference in outcome and no child was unsupported in mainstream school. However large individual differences in progress with some children in both groups showing significant improvements, others showing no change or even a decline in test scores. A 5 year follow up is currently underway. A report of the 2 year follow was published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry

Conclusions: At 2 year follow up the findings indicated that EIBI and specialist nursery provision resulted comparable gains for children with autism.

Status: Research complete and published


  • Research Autism endorsement
  • Magiati, I, Charman T. & Howlin P. (2007). A two-year prospective follow-up study of community-based early intensive behavioural intervention and specialist nursery provision for children with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 48(8), pp. 803-812. Read Abstract.

Research Report No. 2, September 2007. Early intensive behavioural intervention compared to specialist nursery provision for children with autistic spectrum disorders

Research Report no. 2In our second 'Research Report', we report on research by a team from the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London and the UCL Institute of Child Health compared the effect of early intensive behavioural intervention (EIBI) against the effect of specialist nursery provision for autism over a two year period in the UK. EIBI is a comprehensive form of intervention, in which pre-school children are taught a wide range of skills by a specially trained group of therapists, normally including the parents of the children. Specialist nursery provision for children with autism varies considerably from one school to another but usually includes teaching practices which emphasise structure, visual cues, individualized teaching and close liaison with parents. This study was one of the first to directly compare home-based EIBI programmes with autism-specific school-based provision, as well as one of the first to study autism-specific nursery provision in the UK. Research Report (PDF document.)

Related Pages

01 Jun 2015