Toddler Project DATA
Evaluation of a Comprehensive Community-Based Intervention for Toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Funding Source: Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Special Education Research (subcontract with the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center)
Principal Investigator: Ilene Schwartz
Project Director: Jennifer Fung
Collaborative Partners: Bonnie McBride, Mark Chaffin, David Bard (University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center)
The overarching purpose of this project is to conduct a randomized trial to evaluate the efficacy of a previously developed and pilot-tested model for very young children with ASD called Toddler Project DATA (Developmentally Appropriate Treatment for Autism), which was developed at the Haring Center. The major goals will be to examine whether children receiving this intervention show greater gains in cognitive functioning, language, social relatedness, and adaptive behavior; whether parents of these children demonstrate gains in recommended parenting strategies and decreased stress; and whether the intervention is acceptable in terms of general satisfaction and ability to work effectively within the context of different cultures. The ultimate aim of the research is to enable feasible and beneficial community-based services for toddlers with ASD.
A randomized trial across the two sites, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Washington, will be conducted with a minimum of 80 children per year over the 4-year period. Children enrolled will have an autism diagnosis or be at risk for an autism spectrum disorder, and will be between 16-30 months of age at the time of enrollment. Child assessments and parent reports will be administered pre-intervention and quarterly thereafter, including measures of symptoms, cognitive functioning, language, problem behavior, social behavior, engagement, and parent and family stress. Measures of adaptive behavior, family routines, and received child services will be collected at baseline and post-treatment. The project will use procedural monitoring to maintain treatment fidelity, balancing of key baseline group differences, blinded data collection with inter-rater reliability checks, and multiple core symptom assessments.