The application of behavioral and developmental principles to early teaching can dramatically alter the developmental trajectory of children with early-diagnosed and treated Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Furthermore, although parent training is part of many early intervention programs, there are few standardized or manualized training packages for parents.
Our aim i s to create an effective, video enriched, teaching program, to train caregivers in basic behavioral and developmental principles, and in the application of these principles to young children with ASD. We are proposing to develop and pilot test """"""""Teaching Skills to Toddlers: A Program for Caregivers,"""""""" a set of video programs that will deliver high quality instruction in basic principles and applications of evidence-based therapies for caregivers of young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In contrast to available training materials, which are generally in the form of written manuals and require substantial education, literacy and sophistication, as well as close professional supervision, in addition to including a financial cost to parents, we plan to develop our series so that it is 1.) user-friendly to a wide range of people with different levels of education, 2.) possible to use with a minimum of direct expert supervision, and 3.) provided free of charge on the internet. Although the final product will be broader in scope, the pilot materials to be developed in this project will focus on communication and social interaction. For this pilot project, we will focus on the use of the materials as a supplement to early intervention, although other applications are envisioned for the future. In the project period, we will, with ongoing input from parents and health care providers, create the first 4 of the projected 8 programs, test the acceptability and clarity of the program to parents, and conduct a pilot test of the effect of the programs on parent stress and self-efficacy.
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders can have improved outcomes if they obtain early and intensive intervention, but available early intervention is often not intensive or not evidence-based in its methods. Our aim is to create a set of video programs that will deliver high quality instruction in basic principles and applications of evidence-based behavioral and naturalistic therapy techniques to parents of young children with ASD, enabling them to implement intervention early, and improve outcomes for their children. Concepts will be explained clearly and simply, in non-technical language, to maximize the range of parents who can use the material, and the usefulness of the material as an adjunct to early intervention services will be assessed in a pilot study.