Early Intervention (EI) providers are members of the early care and education workforce and among the first to serve our youngest learners (0-3 years) and their caregivers. EI services are intended to be delivered in a family-centered manner where providers collaborate with and coach caregivers to implement intervention strategies. When providing early intervention services to toddlers with autism and other disabilities, evidence-based practices (EBPs) are recommended in order to support all children and caregivers to reach optimal outcomes. And when they are implemented early and effectively, long-term outcomes related to social skills, cognition, and engagement for children with autism and their families/caregivers are improved. Yet, EBPs rarely are adopted and used with fidelity regularly in practice with children with autism leading to what is commonly known as the “research to practice gap.” Thus, there is a pressing need to examine what is occurring relative to EBP dissemination and to develop supports and resources to ensure that all EI providers are able to implement EBPs and coach caregivers to implement EBPs with the children they serve.
This study will employ several methodologies including single-case design and qualitative methods to explore processes and drivers necessary to support EI providers in using online modules with embedded coaching supports to: (a) increase their own knowledge and use of EBPs and (b) support EI providers to coach caregivers to use EBPs. The study will examine factors that lead to effective EI services empowering caregivers of toddlers with autism to embed EBPs into their everyday routines and activities. We will collaborate with EI providers and caregivers of toddlers with autism to examine the extent to which online EBP modules with ongoing implementation support:
- are perceived as useful and relevant to EI providers
- effectively support EI providers and caregivers to embed EBPs with fidelity
We also intend to:
- determine if and how provider and caregiver use of EPBs impacts child coordinated joint engagement
- explore provider and caregiver perceptions related to EBPs and implementing them
By examining perceptions and outcomes related to implementing EBPs, the study may enhance the quality of EI professional practice and improve outcomes for children with autism and their caregivers.