CAPTeam - Findings and publications

AICES (Australian Infant Communication and Engagement Study)

Preemptive Early Intervention Findings

The AICES clinical trial was carried out by La Trobe University and Telethon Kids Insitute, WA, between 2016 – 2020.  This significant study forms part of our early intervention research program, which seeks to evaluate therapies that can then be implemented very early in life for infants.  We had the generous support, time and knowledge of 103 families across Victoria and WA.  Our valued partnership with Victorian Maternal Child Health Service and the WA Child Development Service also made this research possible.

We have now completed this clinical trial, and you can view the study findings here in our AICES Infographic.

Why did we do this study?

The focus of AICES was to understand how we can best provide support to babies who are developing differently, particularly those babies who are showing early behaviours that might be a precursor to later conditions such as language impairment, intellectual disability or autism (e.g., behaviour like delayed imitating, pointing or smiling).

Therapies for children with autism do not typically commence until after children receive a diagnosis, which tends to be between 2 and 6 years of age. However, therapies commencing during the first two years of life, when the first signs of development difference are observed and the brain is rapidly developing, may lead to even greater benefits for the child and family.

Our aim with AICES was to test whether babies who received iBASIS-VIPP therapy very early in life, may have greater developmental improvements by 3 years of age.

Are we seeking to ‘cure’ children of autism?

No. Our aim is to understand each child, in all of their wonder, strengths and challenges, so that we can reduce developmental barriers, such as social and communication difficulties. The iBASIS-VIPP therapy adopts the philosophy that each child brings unique abilities into the world, and that our job as caregivers is to understand these as best we can, and provide an environment that is supportive of those abilities.

What did we find? 

There were several key findings for babies who received the new iBASIS-VIPP therapy.

  1. They had reduced social and communication difficulties at age 3 years of age, compared to babies who received community therapies.
  2. Because of these reductions in social and communication difficulties, they were less likely to meet diagnostic criteria for autism at age 3 years.
  3. Babies who received iBASIS-VIPP therapy also had improved parent-reported language abilities, compared to babies who received community therapy as usual.
  4. Importantly, also, on average, babies in both the iBASIS-VIPP therapy group, and those who received community therapies and services all showed developmental improvements.

Our next steps include following up with our participating families, now that these infants will soon be reaching school age.

We are also excited to be continuing our early intervention research work, through our 'Baby AICES' study, called The CUB Study - Communicating and Understanding your Baby.  We are inviting pregnant women in Melbourne or Perth with a family history of autism, ADHD or intellectual disability to take part.  Read more about CUBS here.

Further AICES reading

Final Study Findings:

Effect of Preemptive Intervention on Developmental Outcomes Among Infants Showing Early Signs of Autism. Journal of American  Medical Association (JAMA).

Published September 2020

Therapy for babies showing early signs of autism reduces the chance of clinical diagnosis at age 3. The Conversation.

Published September 2020

Other Publications and Articles:

Pre-emptive intervention versus treatment as usual for infants showing early behavioural risk signs of autism spectrum disorder: a single-blind, randomised controlled trialLancet Child and Adolescent Health

Published July 2019

Treating suspected autism at 12 months of age improves children's language skills.  The Conversation.

Published July 2019

Could early infant screen and intervention help prevent autism? The Conversation.

Published July 2015


Therapy for infants showing early signs of autism (Autism CRC Report)

Published March 2021