Using Parent-Mediated Intervention to treat Autism Symptoms in Infancy
The present study used a behavior skills training package to teach parent-mediated intervention to treat infants who are showing signs of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Infants are identified “at risk” by elevated scores on three different early screening tools. The intervention consists of twelve 1-hour parent/infant dyad coaching sessions which use instructions, modeling, rehearsal and feedback to teach pivotal behaviors and enhance behavioral cusps by maximizing early learning opportunities. Pivotal behaviors are taught through typical parent/child daily routines such as mealtimes, dressing and bedtime routines and play. The present study used a single-subject design with one 13-month old children who had positive screens for ASD symptoms. Five-minutes of every other session was recorded and scored using Partial Interval Recording, tracking both parent and child target behaviors. The present study found that parental vocalizations increased from 20% of the intervals during baseline to 100% by the 7th session and maintained for the remainder of the treatment as well as during the 1 and 3-month follow-ups. Parental eye contact increased from 33% during baseline to 90% of the intervals by the11th session; however this decreased to 67% and 75% respectively at 1 and 3-month follow-ups. Additionally, the changes were observed in both infant target behaviors, most notably eye-contact which increased from 10% to 75% from baseline to the end of treatment. After the completion of the 12 sessions, the ITC and the M-CHAT were re-administered and the participant no longer screened positively on either tool. Scores on the ITC decreased from the “concern” cutoff across all three domains at 13 months to the “no concern” cutoff at 15 months. The participant’s M-CHAT score at baseline was 17 out of 20, showing in the high risk group for autism at 13 months; however, post intervention and 3 month follow-up, the participant’s score decreased 4/20 score, no longer showing cause for concern. The participant was reassessed for ASD using the ADOS-2 by a developmental Pediatrician and it was noted that he no longer showed any behavior markers or developmental delays that would indicate a diagnosis of ASD. Therefore, results indicated that 12-sessions of parent-mediated intervention was effective at increasing appropriate target behaviours across the infant and parent and decreasing stereotypic behaviors by the completion of the 12th session. The present study is currently being expanded to include 20 participants, thereby providing a foundation for this intervention to be manualized.