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J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2011 Jan;52(1):13-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2010.02288.x. Epub 2010 Dec 3.

Intervention targeting development of socially synchronous engagement in toddlers with autism spectrum disorder: a randomized controlled trial.

Author information

  • 1Kennedy Krieger Institute, Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Baltimore, MD, USA. landa@kennedykrieger.org

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Social and communication impairments are core deficits and prognostic indicators of autism. We evaluated the impact of supplementing a comprehensive intervention with a curriculum targeting socially synchronous behavior on social outcomes of toddlers with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

METHODS:

Fifty toddlers with ASD, ages 21 to 33 months, were randomized to one of two six-month interventions: Interpersonal Synchrony or Non-Interpersonal Synchrony. The interventions provided identical intensity (10 hours per week in classroom), student-to-teacher ratio, schedule, home-based parent training (1.5 hours per month), parent education (38 hours), and instructional strategies, except the Interpersonal Synchrony condition provided a supplementary curriculum targeting socially engaged imitation, joint attention, and affect sharing; measures of these were primary outcomes. Assessments were conducted pre-intervention, immediately post-intervention, and, to assess maintenance, at six-month follow-up. Random effects models were used to examine differences between groups over time. Secondary analyses examined gains in expressive language and nonverbal cognition, and time effects during the intervention and follow-up periods.

RESULTS:

A significant treatment effect was found for socially engaged imitation (p = .02), with more than doubling (17% to 42%) of imitated acts paired with eye contact in the Interpersonal Synchrony group after the intervention. This skill was generalized to unfamiliar contexts and maintained through follow-up. Similar gains were observed for initiation of joint attention and shared positive affect, but between-group differences did not reach statistical significance. A significant time effect was found for all outcomes (p < .001); greatest change occurred during the intervention period, particularly in the Interpersonal Synchrony group.

CONCLUSIONS:

© 2010 The Authors. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. © 2010 Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health.

PMID:
21126245
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3059234
Free PMC Article
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