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The Effectiveness of a Research-Based Parent-Mediated Intervention for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders Served in Community Settings


Concurrent with the rising prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) is the growing number of children with an ASD receiving community-based services. Several treatment methods, many of which are parent-mediated, have demonstrated efficacy in controlled research settings. Despite efficacy data, little is known about the effectiveness of such methods in community service settings. Specifically, limitations of this research include lack of a control comparison group and follow-up assessments to measure maintenance of treatment gains, and examining the influence of parent factors on treatment outcomes. To address these limitations, this prospective study examined the effectiveness of a 12-week, research- based, parent-mediated intervention delivered in a community service setting to 30 young children with ASD (mean age = 54.83 months; SD = 25.44) and their primary caregiver. This study had two primary aims: 1) compare child and parent outcomes for dyads in the intervention and community comparison groups from baseline to 12 weeks (immediately post-intervention) and 24 weeks (followup), and 2) examine parent factors as predictors of child outcomes for all dyads at 12 weeks (post-intervention) and 24 weeks (follow-up). Results indicated a strong, positive trend in improvement of child communication skills over six months for parent-child dyads in the intervention group compared to dyads in the community comparison group. Higher baseline parenting stress was significantly related to smaller improvements in child social skills from baseline to 12 weeks. Overall, the enhanced methodological rigor of this study provides further support for the utility of delivering research-based parent-mediated interventions in community service settings to children with ASD and their caregivers. Clinical implications of this study include the need for increased targeted screening of parenting stress levels upon entry into parent-mediated intervention services

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