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Designing Studies To Evaluate Parent-Mediated Interventions For Toddlers With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Michael Siller, Lindee Morgan, Lauren Turner-Brown, Kathleen M. Baggett, Grace T. Baranek, Jessica Brian, Susan E. Bryson, Alice S. Carter, Elizabeth R. Crais, Annette Estes, Connie Kasari, Rebecca J. Landa, Catherine Lord, Daniel S. Messinger, Peter Mundy, Samuel L. Odom, J. Steven Reznick, Wendy Roberts, Sally J. Rogers, Hannah H. Schertz, Isabel M. Smith, Wendy L. Stone, Linda R. Watson, Amy M. Wetherby, Paul J. Yoder, Lonnie Zwaigenbaum

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Given recent advances in science, policy, and practice of early identification in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), questions about the effectiveness of early intervention have far-reaching service and policy implications. However, rigorous research evaluating the efficacy and effectiveness of intervention programs for toddlers with ASD faces a multitude of novel scientific challenges. The Autism Speaks Toddler Treatment Network (ASTTN) was formed in 2007 to provide an infrastructure for ongoing communication between the investigators of eight research projects evaluating parent-mediated interventions for toddlers with ASD. The present article describes and compares the research studies of the ASTTN; highlights specific challenges with regard to research design, participants, recruitment, eligibility criteria, enrollment, and intervention approach; and outlines practical considerations that may guide the next generation of parent-mediated intervention studies involving toddlers with ASD.