Maximizing the potential for infants at-risk for autism spectrum disorder through a parent-mediated verbal behavior intervention

Amy Tanner, Katerina Dounavi

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Over the past 10 years, very early detection of ASD has opened the way to establishing much needed evidence-based interventions for infants under 18 months of age. A Behavior Skills Training package developed in a verbal behavior framework was the foundation for a parent-mediated service delivery model for 12-16 month infants presenting ASD symptoms. Training consisted of 12 weekly coaching sessions conducted with each parent-infant dyad in the family’s home with the aim to increase social, communication and play skills. A battery of assessment tools was used pre and post-training, while parent and infant target behaviors were scored through videos taken during weekly sessions. Results indicate that social communication behaviors increased in all infant-parent dyads, while severity and number of autism symptoms decreased. By beginning intervention during infancy, brain neuroplasticity is leveraged maximizing the child’s developmental trajectory. This is the first prospective study that provides a verbal behavior analytic framework to treat symptomatic infants.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Behavior Analysis
Early online date02 Mar 2020
Publication statusEarly online date - 02 Mar 2020



  • autism
  • parent-mediated intervention
  • high-risk infants
  • behavior skills training
  • verbal behavior analysis

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