The Social ABCs is a parent-mediated intervention for toddlers with suspected or confirmed autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We undertook a multi-site pilot study to evaluate feasibility and acceptability, and to identify trends in child and parent behavior to inform future research using a larger sample and a rigorous research design. The program involved 12 weeks of parent coaching, followed by 12 weeks' implementation, and 3-month follow-up assessment for 20 parent-toddler dyads (age range: 12-32 months). Parents successfully learned the techniques and rated the intervention as highly acceptable. Paired samples t-tests revealed significant gains in children's functional communication (responsivity, initiations), and language gains (age-equivalents on standardized measures) commensurate with typical developmental rates. Significant increases in shared smiling and social orienting also emerged, but were attenuated at follow-up. Parents' fidelity was positively associated with child responsivity. Training parents as mediators is a feasible and highly acceptable approach that provides a potentially cost-effective opportunity for intensive intervention at a very young age at the first signs of ASD risk. Child and parent gains in several key variables demonstrate the promise of this intervention. Autism Res 2016, 9: 899-912. © 2015 The Authors Autism Research published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of International Society for Autism Research.
Keywords: autism spectrum disorder; caregiver-mediated; communication; early intervention; high-risk; parent-mediated; pivotal response treatment; smiling; toddlers.
© 2015 The Authors Autism Research published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of International Society for Autism Research.