Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 47, Issue 3, pp 744–767 | Cite as

Communication Intervention for Young Children with Severe Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Via Telehealth

  • Jessica SimacekEmail author
  • Adele F. Dimian
  • Jennifer J. McComas
Original Paper


Young children with neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and Rett syndrome often experience severe communication impairments. This study examined the efficacy of parent-implemented communication assessment and intervention with remote coaching via telehealth on the acquisition of early communication skills of three young children with ASD (2) and Rett syndrome (1). Efficacy of the intervention was evaluated using single-case experimental designs. First, functional assessment was used to identify idiosyncratic/potentially communicative responses and contexts for each child. Next, parents implemented functional communication training (FCT). All of the children acquired the targeted communication responses. The findings support the efficacy of telehealth as a service delivery model to coach parents on intervention strategies for their children’s early communication skills.


Communication intervention Telehealth Idiosyncratic responses FCT 



This research was funded in part by a grant from NIH/NICHD, Grant No. 44763. We wish to thank Dr. Dave Wacker, John Lee, and colleagues at the University of Iowa for their guidance in the development of the UMN telehealth laboratory and procedures. We also wish to thank Marianne Elmquist, Brittany Pennington, and Stephanie Snidarich for their efforts with data collection. We wish to express our deepest gratitude to the children and their families for their participation in this research.

Author contributions

JS participated in study conception, intervention delivery, data collection, analysis, and interpretation and manuscript preparation; AD participated in intervention delivery, data collection, analysis and interpretation, and manuscript preparation; JM participated in data analysis and interpretation and manuscript preparation.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

This research was completed in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a PhD in Educational Psychology at the University of Minnesota for the first author. The second and third authors have received research funding through NIH/NICHD Grant No. 44763. The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants (parents) included in the study, which was approved by the University of Minnesota Internal Review Board.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessica Simacek
    • 1
    Email author
  • Adele F. Dimian
    • 1
  • Jennifer J. McComas
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Educational PsychologyUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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