13 Apr 2021
Journal of clinical medicine;
Years can elapse between parental suspicion of a developmental delay and a diagnostic assessment, ultimately delaying access to medically necessary, autism-specific intervention. Using a single-case, concurrent multiple baseline design, autism spectrum disorder symptomology (i.e., higher-order restrictive and repetitive behaviors and interests; higher-order RRBIs) was targeted in toddlers (21-35 months) waiting for a diagnostic appointment. Caregivers were coached via telehealth to mediate early intervention to decrease interfering, inflexible higher-order RRBIs during play using four evidence-based applied behavior analytic strategies: modeling, prompting, differential reinforcement of appropriate behaviors, and response interruption and redirection. Six mother-child dyads were recruited from pediatrician offices and early intervention service districts in the United States. All families were considered under-served, under-resourced, or living in rural locations. A visual analysis of the data combined with Tau-U revealed a strong basic effect between the intervention package and parent strategy use and child flexible and inflexible behavior. Findings were consistent across participants with one exception demonstrating a moderate effect for flexible behaviors yet a strong effect for inflexible behaviors. Standardized mean difference was beyond zero for all participants. Implications for science and practice include support for early intervention of higher-order RRBIs for young children with and at risk for ASD.