Training Community Providers to Implement an Evidence-Based Early Intervention Program
University of California, San Diego
The BRIDGE Collaborative consists of community providers, parents, funding agencies and researchers working together to develop a community plan to assist children and families of children at risk for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) from the earliest stages. Based on extensive input from community providers and parents, the group selected and pilot tested an evidence-based, parent-implemented intervention. Specifically, the program includes Teaching Social, an evidence-based curriculum designed to coach families in the use of naturalistic, developmental and behavioral techniques. The techniques are designed to increase children’s social communication skills during daily activities. The program also includes additional strategies for improving engagement and addressing individual differences in young children. In this study, supervisors at 15 community agencies will be trained to use the intervention and how to train others in the model. They will then train two therapists at their own agency to implement the intervention and to teach parents to use the strategies. This project will test an innovative training model to teach providers to implement a very early intervention, which will 1) improve outcomes of infants/toddlers with ASD and their families; 2) minimize variability in quality of services through appropriate training; 3) increase family access to services and 4) provide a cost effective training model. Feedback from the pilot training was extremely positive. Ninety percent of therapists were able to fully implement the program within three months of coaching. Therapists completed post-training surveys and 90% were confident in their use of strategies, liked the materials and format, felt parents understood the program, felt that children’s development improved and would recommend the program to others. Specific aims of the project are to: 1) examine the replicability and sustainability of the BRIDGE training model for teaching community therapists to use TSC with infants and toddlers at-risk for ASD; 2) examine the correct use of TSC after completion of training, and 3) examine therapist and agency ratings of satisfaction, acceptability and cost effectiveness of the training model.