A randomized controlled trial examining the efficacy of Project ImPACT in two Part C Early Intervention programs in California was recently funded by the Institute for Education Sciences.

The goal of this project is to examine the efficacy of Project ImPACT for Toddlers (PIT), a naturalistic intervention that focuses on building parents’ capacity to support the social communication development of their children with or at risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in community-based early intervention settings. Focusing on toddlers is important because ASD diagnoses are occurring earlier and there is evidence that intervening at the first signs of ASD risk, even before diagnosis, may help prevent the onset of symptoms for some children. Because services provided to toddlers at risk for ASD and their families vary based on geographic location, family demographics, and provider training, there is a need to test the efficacy of using sustainable methods of delivering high-quality services through existing early intervention systems. PIT, a community-based model of intervention, was designed to address this need. PIT was pilot tested in a previous IES project and demonstrated promise for improving children’s communication and social skills and positive parenting behaviors within parent-child interactions compared to usual care early intervention. In the current study, the efficacy of PIT will be examined to determine whether it improves the fidelity of provider coaching of parents, fidelity of parent implementation of intervention techniques, and communication and social skills for children with or at risk for ASD. The potential moderating roles of family and child characteristics will also be examined.

This study is being led by Sarah Rieth, PhD, at San Diego State University and Aubyn Stahmer, PhD, at UC Davis MIND Institute.