Autism is a neurobehavioural disorder characterized byimpairment of social relatedness, delayed and disor-dered communication, and restricted, perseverative andstereotypic behaviour patterns occurring in young children.It has a major impact on the lives of children and their fam-ilies. The manifestations of this disorder vary between chil-dren and within an individual child over time. The currentunderstanding of this disorder is of an autism spectrum withdegrees of involvement from mild to severe.
The optimal age for involvement in an early intensivetreatment program is unclear. Most published studies thatdemonstrated treatment efficacy involved children youngerthan 48 months （3,4,6,9,11）。 One study （12） compared theoutcome of children who entered a comprehensive treat-ment program at younger than 60 months to a group thatstarted at older than 60 months of age. The researchersfound that 67% of the early treatment group versus 11% ofthe late treatment group were able to reside at home withparents and attend public school. However there was nopretreatment data reported in this study to ensure that thegroups were developmentally equivalent at the start.Another study （13） found that younger age （mean of 46months） at treatment entry was predictive of being in a reg-ular education class after discharge, whereas older age atintake （mean of 54 months） was predictive of placement ina special education classroom. The question of optimal agefor involvement in a comprehensive treatment programrequires further examination.