A Pilot Study Comparing Tele-therapy and In-Person Therapy: Perspectives from Parent-Mediated Intervention for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Abstract

Conclusions about the efficacy of tele-therapy for parent-mediated intervention for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are limited, due to the shortage of direct comparisons between tele-therapy and traditional face-to-face therapy. In this study, we implemented a parent training program, which targeted on language facilitating intervention strategies. Fifteen parents of children with ASD participated in person, and 15 participated via online video conferencing. We measured parents’ intervention fidelity and children’s initiations, responses, lexical diversity and morphosyntactic complexity. Results indicated significant improvements in parents’ fidelity and children’s lexical diversity and morphosyntactic complexity. No significant differences were detected between the two therapy delivery groups on any outcome measures. Finally, children’s progress on morphosyntactic complexity was significantly correlated with parents’ improvement on fidelity.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    There are parent training programs based on other protocols, for example the Functional Communication Training (Lindgren et al. 2016) and the Early Start Denver Model (Vismara et al. 2013). Here we focus on the ImPACT that was used in the current study.

  2. 2.

    The first session does not refer to week 1 session and the last session does not refer to week 6 session. Recall that we had missing data, and some families were not able to attend sessions on week 1 or 6. Here, we included the very first session and very last session a family attended.

  3. 3.

    The two studies did not report frequency of initiations or responses per minute. They documented frequency in a session and the duration of a session. We calculated the maximum frequency using the data they provided.

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Acknowledgments

We thank the parents and children for participating in the parent training program and all clinicians for administering the training and transcribing and coding the language samples. This project was funded by Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Funding

The authors do not have a financial interest in the materials or data presented in this article.

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YH contributed to data analysis and writing/editing of the manuscript. JHF and MS mainly contributed to the design and implementation of the study. YC contributed to data organization and manuscript editing.

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Correspondence to Ying Hao.

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All authors have made appropriate contributions, agreed on the byline order, and have read and approved this manuscript. The project and research conducted was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the University of Texas at Austin.

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Hao, Y., Franco, J.H., Sundarrajan, M. et al. A Pilot Study Comparing Tele-therapy and In-Person Therapy: Perspectives from Parent-Mediated Intervention for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. J Autism Dev Disord 51, 129–143 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-020-04439-x

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Keywords

  • Tele-health
  • In-person therapy
  • Parent training
  • Children with ASD