Early Social Interaction Models for Toddlers with Early Signs of ASD

Early diagnosis and intervention have a lifelong impact on children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families. The Early Social Interaction (ESI) model is a parent-implemented intervention that teaches parents of young children with ASD how to embed evidence-based strategies to support social communication, language, play and behaviors within everyday activities to achieve the intensity needed for young children with ASD and is consistent with Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C requirements.

Who can participate?

We will recruit early intervention providers (EIPs) from Georgia. Each EIP will identify four toddlers 18 to 24 months of age with red flags for ASD, based on an observational screening tool, and invite families they serve in Part C early intervention who meet eligibility criteria. Once identified by an EIP, toddlers must meet eligibility criteria that includes:

  • A positive screen for ASD on the Smart ESAC at 18-24 months
  • Early signs of ASD based on the SORF-Home
  • Eligible for Part C EI services
  • Their EIPs and families agree to participate in this treatment study

What will I be asked to do?

EIPs will be recruited from Part C early intervention systems and will be randomly assigned to one of two treatments—early social interaction (ESI) intervention or business as usual (BAU). Each EIP will identify four toddlers with early signs of ASD over two years of participation in this project. Children will be assessed at baseline, at the end of the 9-month intervention, and for follow up nine months after intervention.

What are the benefits of participating?

For EIPs, this study is designed to learn more about the effectiveness of using ESI intervention strategies to coach families whose children are showing early signs of autism or other developmental delays. You will learn more about early childhood development, early red flags for autism and communication delays, strategies for working with families, and empirically based intervention strategies. The study results may be used to help others in the future. You may also receive continuing education units and will be compensated for your time.

For families of children with ASD, this study is designed to learn more about methods of early intervention for young children with a risk of ASD. Your child may display positive outcomes as a result of the strategies you learn. In addition, families will be compensated for their time during evaluations at the Marcus Autism Center.

Principal investigator: Dr. Jennifer Stapel-Wax

Sign up now
Email marcusresearch@choa.org or call 404-785-7600 and say you’re interested in the ESI study.