Deployment Focused Model of JASPER for Preschoolers with Autism Spectrum Disorders
University of California, Los Angeles
Children with autism have difficulty in social communication skills, particularly joint attention and play skills. Joint attention refers to the ability of the child to share attention with another person around an event or a toy. Play skills are often limited for children with autism with less ability to engage in social and symbolic play. Interventions can improve these core problems, and improvement can lead to better language outcomes. However, these interventions are often carried out by expert research staff, and are less often evident in community preschools where children with autism spend the most time. Thus, the goal of this project is to deploy effective interventions for core symptoms of autism into community based preschool programs. A second goal of the project is to use community partnered participatory research practices to create a sustainable intervention in community preschools that largely serve underrepresented children with autism. Goals of the project are to determine if the intervention results in teachers delivering a greater dose of social communication curricula and if the children develop better social, communication and language outcomes. Participants in this project will include 60 teachers and 60 children with ASD randomly selected from preschool classrooms in the Los Angeles Unified School District, an urban district where three quarters of children are Hispanic, and less than ten percent are White. Interventions will be delivered to half of the sample first using a randomized wait list control design. Interventions will be implemented for three months, and children and teachers will be followed up in another three months to determine how effective the intervention is for teacher and child outcomes. This project addresses multiple priority areas of Autism Speaks including deployment of effective interventions into underserved communities, and a focus on core symptoms. The results of this intervention could have far reaching effects on community interventions and potential outcomes for children with autism.