As more children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are being identified and diagnosed earlier (before age 3), it is extremely important to establish evidence-based practices for toddlers with ASD. While several efficacy studies are in progress and showing positive outcomes, the models of intervention evaluated are primarily home- and/or parent-based. Little is known about the effects of center-based interventions for toddlers with ASD. Therefore, this research will evaluate outcomes of a center-based model of intervention for toddlers with ASD. The first aim is to compare outcomes of young children with ASD who attended an existing, comprehensive, 20 hour/week, center-based toddler program to other young children with ASD in the same community who did not attend the program by examining program and school records. The second aim is to explore child and family characteristics along with intervention approaches affecting optimal outcomes. Finally, the third aim is to examine family perceptions on their satisfaction with early intervention services received, reasons for selecting specific early intervention programs, and perspectives on home-based and/or center-based intervention programs for toddlers with ASD by collecting data from a survey and through semi-structured interviews with families. Thus, the results of this study will provide practical information to families in making educated treatment decisions for their toddlers recently diagnosed with ASD as well as to service providers in offering treatment recommendations related to center versus home-based programs and guiding intervention practices for individual children and families.
Organization for Autism Research
03/01/2011 to 03/31/2012