Developmental Interventions – Other Research Models

Description: These models are primarily offered in the context of research studies and participants were typically involved in other therapies at the time the studies were conducted (e.g. early intensive behavioral treatment and speech and language therapy). The interventions involved training either parents or researchers to implement the strategies. Examples include the Joint Attention, Symbolic Play, Emotion Regulation (JASPER) and Responsive Prelinguistic Milieu Teaching (RPMT) models.

Research Summary: In most studies, when interventions were implemented as parent training, the gains were minimal. Parents learned to use the skills resulting in some increase in parent-child interaction. Unfortunately, other general improvements were not observed (e.g. the 2010 Kasari study where there was no improvement in initiation). In contrast, when the therapies were implemented by researchers (Kasari et al., 2006), improvements in joint attention, symbolic play, and language skills were observed when each intervention session began with discrete trial training before transitioning to play-based interactions. To date, these models have not been compared to established, comprehensive early intensive behavioral treatment models.

Recommendations: These models should be presented by professionals as preliminary at best and encourage families who are considering this intervention to evaluate it carefully particularly if the child receives no other therapies.

Selected scientific studies:

Green, J., Charman, T., McConachie, H., Aldred, C., Slonims, V., Howlin, P., et al. (2010). Parent-mediated communication-focused treatment in children with autism (PACT): A randomised controlled trial. Lancet, 375, 2152-2160.

Kasari, C. et al. (2010). Randomized controlled caregiver mediated joint engagement intervention for toddlers with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40(9), 1045-1056.

Kasari, C. et al. (2006). Joint attention and symbolic play in young children with autism: A randomized controlled intervention study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47(6), 611–620.

Yoder, P., & Stone, W. L. (2006). Randomized comparison of two communication interventions for preschoolers with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 74, 426-435.