International Meeting for Autism Research: Characteristics and Outcomes of Community-Based Early Intervention for Three to Five Year Old Children with Autism

Characteristics and Outcomes of Community-Based Early Intervention for Three to Five Year Old Children with Autism

Thursday, May 12, 2011
Elizabeth Ballroom E-F and Lirenta Foyer Level 2 (Manchester Grand Hyatt)
11:00 AM
A. S. Nahmias1, S. Shin2, M. Xie3 and D. S. Mandell4,5, (1)Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, (2)District of Columbia Department of Education, Washington, DC, (3)University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, United States, (4)University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, United States, (5)Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Center for Autism Research, Philadelphia, PA
Background: Although research provides increasing evidence that early intervention can improve outcomes for young children with autism (Rogers & Vismara, 2008), less is known about treatment outcomes for preschoolers with autism who receive intervention services in the community. The small body of research in this area suggests that community practices do not mirror evidence-based interventions (Stahmer, 2007) and do not result in the large gains observed in research trials (Magiati, Charman & Howlin, 2007). Previous community-based studies also tended to focus on child rather than intervention characteristics when predicting child outcomes (Perry et al., 2011).  Studying the characteristics of the community-based early interventions themselves and associated outcomes in elementary school is a critical step in the path to developing both interventions that have a higher chance of use in community settings, and more effective community-based implementation strategies.

Objectives: to 1) describe features of early intervention received under IDEA Part B by three-to-five-year-old children who are later placed in autism support classrooms;  2) investigate the association between these early intervention characteristics with outcomes measured upon entry to elementary school; and 3) investigate how early intervention experiences as associated with intervention response in elementary school.

Methods: The sample comprises 400 children who part of an intervention effectiveness trial in kindergarten-through-second-grade autism support classrooms in the School District of Philadelphia. Participants’ early intervention records from Elwyn will be reviewed.  These records include initial assessments, the Developmental Assessment for Young Children (DAYC; Voress & Maddox, 1998), Evaluation Reports, and Individualized Education Programs (IEP), which will be coded for intervention features (e.g. frequency and duration, location (center vs. home based), program orientation), as well as child and family characteristics.  Intervention features will then be associated with clinical presentation in elementary school, as measured by the Differential Abilities Scale –II, the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, as well as other parent and teacher-reported measures. We then will examine the association of these early intervention characteristics with intervention response during elementary school.

Results: Data collection is ongoing and will be completed in time for the conference.

Conclusions: This study will add to the small body of literature describing the characteristics of community-based early intervention by measuring 1) components of the intervention received; 2) associated outcomes based on standardized measures, administered by a research clinician; and 3) response to intervention in elementary school as a function of early intervention experiences. This information can help guide improvements to community-based intervention programs for young children with autism by identifying which features of current practices are associated with more favorable outcomes.

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