Category: Autism Spectrum and Developmental Disorders


Potential of a Self-Directed Telehealth Parent-Mediated Intervention for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder in Community Settings

Saturday, November 18
1:45 PM - 3:15 PM
Location: Sapphire Ballroom B, Level 4, Sapphire Level

Keywords: Autism Spectrum Disorders | Technology / Mobile Health | Parenting
Presentation Type: Symposium

There is significant need for strategies to increase access to evidence-based interventions for children with ASD.  One novel approach is to train parents to use evidence-based interventions with their child with ASD via telehealth.  Telehealth-based interventions are relatively low-cost and have the potential to surmount many barriers to participation in traditional programs.  Pilot work examining the efficacy of a self-directed and therapist-assisted version of one such intervention, ImPACT Online, demonstrated a high rate of parent program engagement, low attrition, and associated gains in parent learning and child social communication.  These findings highlight the potential for telehealth to increase access and improve outcomes among families of young children with ASD.  At the same time, it is unclear whether the participants in this lab-based research study are representative of consumers who openly enroll in such programs, the consumers, for whom this program is ultimately intended. The current study conducted an open access trial of the self-directed version of ImPACT Online to better understand its dissemination potential.  Specifically, we examined: 1) the demographics of families who enrolled in the open access trial compared to families who enrolled in one of our two lab-based efficacy trials of the same program; 2) metrics of program engagement for the two groups; 3) the relationship between program engagement and changes in parents’ intervention knowledge; and 4) the potential reach of the program.  Parents in the open access trial (n=96) were recruited nationally by:  1) a flyer provided to families during the feedback session at several community autism diagnostic clinics; 2) a link to the program website which appeared on a Statewide autism center website; or 3) word of mouth and/or internet search.  Parents enrolled through the program website, and did not have direct contact with research staff.  Parents in the lab-based trials (n=49) were recruited in Michigan through community organizations.  These parents enrolled through the research lab and participated in intake and follow along assessments with research staff. All parents completed a survey of family demographics and intervention knowledge at intake and 6 months later.  Program engagement was electronically tracked and included (1) average number of logins to the site; 2) average amount of time spent on the site across the intervention period; and 3) percent of learning activities completed across the 12 lessons.  One diagnostic clinic tracked referrals to obtain an estimate of reach for the open access trial.  Data suggest parents and children who enrolled in the open access and lab-based trials were similar in terms of demographics.  However, parents in the open access trial engaged with the program at a significantly lower rate.  Program engagement was significantly associated with gains in parent intervention knowledge across both groups.  Program reach was low, with fewer than 20% of families given information about the program at time of diagnosing registering for the program. These data suggest that additional strategies may need to be developed to support families in using telehealth-based parent mediated intervention in community settings.

Brooke Ingersoll

Associate Professor
Michigan State University


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Potential of a Self-Directed Telehealth Parent-Mediated Intervention for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder in Community Settings

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