The critical need for parent involvement in early intevention is clear in federal regulations (Individuals with Disabilities Act, Part C) and is supported repeatedly in research by positive benefits for parents and for children developing a range of skills. Since parents spend significantly more time with their children than early interventionists, a way to train parents to identify skills, use opportunities for instruction, and incorporate strategies for facilitating language and social skills would provide children with developmental delays signficanctly more learning opportunties. Many well researched strategies can be incorporated easily into routine activities or play, and best practice in early intervention promotes approaches that develop useful skills by capitalizing on routine interactions in a child's environment.1 Unfortunately, live parent training often is limited by location, costs, and time, an currently available online trainings usually focus on school aged children with specific diagnoses (usually autism), use applied behavior analysis methods in isolated learning situations, and rely almost solely on lecture rather than providing a means for practicing key aspects of strategy implementation. The purpose of this NIH Phase I SBIR project is to develop and research an interactive, simulated online training program for teaching parents of children age 18 months to three years strategies for increasing their child's language and social skills as part of their daiy routines. A multi-disciplinary team of experts will ensure the materials are clear, comprehensive, age appropriate, and include practical skills and strategies that can be integrated into a family's daily routines. A newly available technology will be used to create an innovative interactive practice session to simulate parents applying strategies for increasing children's skill use. Phase II will include more strategies, skills, developmental domains, and features and will target a wider age range. The specific goals of this Phase I grant are to (a) develop a fully functioning training that includes instruction, content evaluation, and interactive simulated training (b) use single subject design study to demonstrate feasibility of the system for increasing parent strategy and child skill use (c) use pre- and post- content quizzes, usability testing, journaling, and social validity surveys as additional feedback for Phase II and commercialization technology, interface, and content changes. This study contributes to the goals of NIH by conducting research and development to promote human growth and development, specifically meeting the goals of NICHD by developing and researching a potential product to assist families in promoting social and cognitive development in young children with developmental disabilities.
This Phase I SBIR project contributes to public health by developing and researching a parent training program for teaching children 18 months to 3 years with developmental disabilities critical communication, language, and social skills. Research supports the effectiveness of parent trainings for increasing children's skills in a variety of areas, yet well researched and cost effective programs that allow for skill integration into busy family schedules do not exist.