A Randomized Control Study of Responsive Teachings with Young Children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) Project Summary: This research project is a pilot randomized control study that is being conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of a psycho-social early intervention approach which is referred to as relationship focused intervention (RFI) on children with Autism Spectrum Disorder who are between 18 to 30 months old at the start of intervention. RFI is a relatively new approach to developmental intervention that is designed to enhance children's functioning by encouraging parents and other caregivers to engage in highly responsive interactions with them. In this project, we propose to conduct a one-year experimental study of a new manualized RFI referred to as Responsive Teaching (RT) (Mahoney &MacDonald, 2007). 56 children with Autism Spectrum Disorder who are between 18 to 30 months of age will be randomly assigned to either an experimental group that receives weekly sessions of Responsive Teaching or a control group that receives monthly parent support interventions. Pre- post- assessments will be used to evaluate the effects of intervention on (a) children's development and social emotional functioning, (b) parents'style of interaction and children's pivotal behavior;and (c) other personal/family characteristics and intervention factors that are likely to effect children's intervention outcomes. There are four Aims of this project:
Aim 1 : To examine the effectiveness of RT with children who have ASD's beginning when children are 18 to 30 months of age on their cognitive, language and social emotional functioning over a 12 month period of time.
Aim 2 : To examine the impact of RT on mothers'style of interaction and children's pivotal behaviors over a 12 month period of time.
Aim 3 : To assess how mothers'style of interaction and children's pivotal behaviors mediate the developmental and social emotional improvements children make in intervention.
Aim 4 : To identify characteristics of children and parents that contribute to the effectiveness of RT.
The increasing numbers of children being identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder before they are three years old calls for the development of effective interventions for this age group of children. This project will conduct a randomized control study of a parent-mediated developmental intervention that can be implemented with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder before they are three years old. Pre- post- assessments will determine the impact of this intervention on children's development and social emotional functioning as well as on several psychosocial characteristics of parents and families.