Early Intervention Practices for Children With Autism: Descriptions From Community Providers

Anbyn C. Stahmer PhD, is a research scientist at the Child and Adolescent Services Research center and the University of California, San Diego. Her current interests include diagnosis, treatment, and policies for children with autism. Nicole M. Colling, BS, is currently a graduate student in speech-language pathology at the University of Texas at Austin. Her interests are in language intervention and assessment of culturally and linguistically diverse populations. Lawrence A. Palinkas, PhD, is a professor and vice chief in the Department of family and preventive Medicine at the University of California, San Diego. He is a medical anthropologist with expertise in qualitative research methods and interest in social, psychological, and environmental influences on behavior in extreme environments. Address: Aubyn C, Stahmer, Children's Hospital, 3020 Children's Way, MC 5033, San Diego, CA 92123.
Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities (Impact Factor: 1.05). 02/2005; 20(2):66-79. DOI: 10.1177/10883576050200020301
Source: PubMed


Across the country, states are reporting increases in the number of children with autism enrolled in the education system. Although a few specific treatment methods have been established as efficacious for some children with autism in controlled settings, research examining the translation of these treatments into early intervention programs has been minimal. The current study examined provider self-reports of the use of interventions in community settings through focus groups. Providers report the use of both evidence-based and non-evidence-based techniques and indicate that they often combine and modify these techniques based on child, personal, and external factors. Few providers had a clear understanding of evidence-based practice, and all providers reported concerns about adequate training. Implications for early intervention research are discussed.

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    • "As discussed by Cook, Cook, and Landrum (2013), people often take mental shorts-cuts to manage information overload that may lead to poorer choices and may explain the continued use of unsupported interventions. For example, busy professionals, as has been argued for consumers making health care choices (Hibbard & Peters, 2003), may focus on only one facet of the information they receive on interventions (e.g., availability of intervention practice) or not make a decision at all and continue with using a variety of intervention approaches as is common in the community (Hess, Morrier, Heflin, & Ivey, 2008; Paynter & Keen, 2015; Stahmer, Collings, & Palinkas, 2005). "
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    ABSTRACT: Facilitated Communication (FC) is a non-evidence based intervention with documented dangers that continues to be used with some children with autism spectrum disorders. In this response to Lilienfeld, Marshall, Todd, and Shane (2014), we consider how the findings of our own research involving parents and professionals may contribute to the development of strategies aimed at countering FC and other unsupported practices. We also consider the ways in which misinformation may be contributing to the persistence of FC. Together, we affirm Lilienfeld et al.’s (2014) recommendation that countering FC requires a comprehensive and concerted effort, which must build awareness, capacity, and resilience within parents, professionals, and organizations to adopt only evidence-based interventions.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015 · Evidence-Based Communication Assessment and Intervention
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    • "All of these instructional techniques require significant staff training and time to implement correctly. Perhaps as a result, there is substantial variation in the extent to which these comprehensive programs and their individual components are implemented with fidelity in community settings (Bibby et al. 2001; Boyd and Corley 2001; Stahmer et al. 2005). "
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    ABSTRACT: This study evaluated the association of fidelity to each of the components of the Strategies for Teaching based on Autism Research (STAR) program, a comprehensive treatment package for children with autism that includes discrete trial training, pivotal response training, and teaching in functional routines, on outcomes for 191 students ages 5-8 years in a large public school district. Fidelity to all components was relatively low, despite considerable training and support, suggesting the need to develop new implementation strategies. Fidelity to pivotal response training, but not discrete trial training or functional routines, was positively associated with gains in cognitive ability despite low levels of fidelity, and may be an effective intervention choice in under-resourced settings.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2015 · Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
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    • "Of the established treatments, two-thirds were derived from behavioral literature and the majority of the remaining one-third of treatments were predominantly supported through behavioral research. Several recent studies have also indicated that treatments based on the principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA) have the strongest empirical basis (Sturmey 2002; Stahmer, Collings, and Palinkas 2005) and are the most frequently used scientifically-based interventions (Hess, Morrier, Heflin, and Ivey 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of the present study was to examine the underlying constructs within the Promoting the Emergence of Advanced Knowledge (PEAK) Relational Training System Direct Training Module. Ninety-eight children with Autism or other developmental and intellectual disabilities were evaluated using the PEAK Direct Training Assessment, which endorsed the presence or absence of 184 possible skills within their repertoire. Following this evaluation, a Principal Component Analysis was run which yielded a four-factor model of the PEAK Direct Training Module. Specifically, factors that possessed Eigenvalues greater than three were retained. Items were loaded onto each factor based on their correlation scores within a final rotated component structure matrix. The resulting four-factor model includes the constructs of Foundational Learning Skills, Perceptual Learning Skills, Verbal Comprehension Skills, and Verbal Reasoning, Memory, and Mathematical Skills. In an era of movement towards evidence-based practices, the present data provide support for PEAK system as a conceptually systematic approach to the treatment of children with autism.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities
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