Cross-site randomized control trial of the Social ABCs caregiver-mediated intervention for toddlers with autism spectrum disorder

Autism Res. 2017 Oct;10(10):1700-1711. doi: 10.1002/aur.1818. Epub 2017 Jun 2.


To evaluate the efficacy of the Social ABCs parent-mediated intervention for toddlers with suspected or confirmed autism spectrum disorder (ASD), through a cross-site randomized control trial, sixty-three parent-toddler dyads (toddler age: 16-30 months) were randomized into treatment (Social ABCs) or control (service-as-usual) conditions. Video data were obtained at three key time-points: Baseline; Post-training (PT; week 12); and Follow-Up (week 24). Analyses included 62 dyads. Treatment allocation significantly accounted for PT gains, all favouring the Treatment group, in (1) child functional vocal responsiveness to parent prompts (R2 = 0.43, P < .001), (2) child vocal initiations (R2 = 0.28, P < .001), (3) parent smiling (R2 = 0.09, P = .017), and (4) fidelity of implementation (R2 = 0.71, P < .001). A trend was observed for increased social orienting (R2 = 0.06, P = 0.054); gains in parent smiling significantly predicted increases in child smiling and social orienting. Parents in the treatment condition reported significant gains in self-efficacy following the intervention (P = 0.009). No differential effects emerged for performance on standardized measures. The Social ABCs is a relatively low-resource, efficacious intervention, with potential to be a cost-effective means of intervening at the first signs of possible ASD. Autism Res 2017, 10: 1700-1711. © 2017 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Clinical Trial Title: Social ABCs for Toddlers with Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder: RCT of a Parent-Mediated Intervention http// identifier: NCT02428452.

Keywords: Clinical trials; developmental psychology; intervention early; language; parent training; positive affect; social attention; social orienting.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / psychology*
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / therapy*
  • Canada
  • Caregivers*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Parents
  • Social Behavior*

Associated data