This study will determine the impact of early intervention on the communication and social
development of toddlers with autism.
Autism is a condition that affects brain development, often leading to difficulties in
social, emotional, and educational functioning. This study will determine whether early
intervention can improve such functioning in toddlers with autism.
Each treatment session will last 6 months. Children with an autism spectrum disorder will be
enrolled in one of two parallel classes and will receive one of two treatments 4 days a week
for the duration of the session. Children in each class will receive the same amount and
level of intervention, but with a different goal focus. Treatments will be school- and
home-based; parents will receive instruction on administering the at-home part of the
treatment. The intervention will include environmental engineering, developmental
approaches, adaptations of traditional behavioral approaches, and contemporary behavioral
approaches that apply principles of applied behavior analysis in more naturalistic teaching
frameworks. A series of measures including scales, interviews, and observations will be used
to assess the children at baseline, study completion, and 6 months after study completion.
The children will be videotaped during the school-based intervention.
- Diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder
- Parent or guardian willing to give informed consent for child's participation
- Developmental level above 9 months on the Visual Reception Scale of the Mullen Scales
of Early Learning and on the Adaptive Behavior Composite of the Vineland Adaptive
- English is primary language for child and family
- Evidence of vision or hearing impairment
- Diagnosis of fragile X syndrome, Rett syndrome, tuberous sclerosis,
neurofibromatosis, phenylketonuria, or congenital rubella
- History of severe birth trauma or traumatic brain injury
- Siblings with autism spectrum disorder