Training Early Childhood Educators in the Social ABCs Toddler Autism Intervention in a Community Child Care

Thursday, May 12, 2016: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Hall A (Baltimore Convention Center)
J. A. Brian1, K. Bernardi1, E. M. Dowds2 and S. E. Bryson3, (1)Bloorview Research Institute, Toronto, ON, Canada, (2)The Hospital for Sick Children and Bloorview Kids Rehab, Toronto, ON, Canada, (3)Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada
Background:  The Social ABC’s is a parent-mediated intervention shown to increase communication and positive emotion sharing in infants/toddlers with emerging autism. We adapted our program for Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) and Special Needs Resource Consultants (SNRCs) in community childcare settings including the addition of a 3-hour workshop on early detection and intervention in ASD. Training childcare personnel provides unique and valuable opportunities to: (1) increase knowledge in early detection, (2) increase the ‘dose’ of intervention throughout the day, (3) train highly skilled child development experts, and (4) have a long-term ‘return-on-investment’ via training individuals who can use the techniques with multiple children over time.

Objectives: To disseminate our Social ABCs into the childcare setting, with two research questions: (1) Can a directed workshop increase the knowledge of front-line childcare staff regarding signs of emerging autism? (2) Is it feasible to train staff in the Social ABCsin a community childcare?   

Methods:   (1) Present workshop and test knowledge (n=19); (2) Train frontline staff (n=6): 12 weeks of in-centre, live coaching, followed by 12 weeks’ implementation, and follow-up at week 24. Paired samples t-tests evaluated change across time-points.

Results: (1) Workshops provided for 22 attendees; 19 wrote the workshop quiz, with mean improvement of 22.26% from pre- (52.63%, SD = 14.76) to post-workshop (74.89%, SD = 12.51), t = 7.57, p < .001. (2) Significant improvements in fidelity of implementation from baseline (Mean = 47.08%, SD = 11.51) to post-training (Mean = 85.50%, SD = 4.04), t = 11.44, p < .001. Gains were maintained at follow-up (Mean = 86.30%, SD = 4.19). All staff achieved fidelity > 80% post-training (see Figure 1).

Conclusions:  Significant gains were observed in staff knowledge and skills in response to this training package. The model of training frontline childcare staff is feasible and effective, presenting an opportunity for integration of intensive intervention into daily activities for very young children at risk for ASD in community child care settings. Discussion includes perceived barriers to, and potential solutions for, widespread implementation.