Statistical Learning in Infants with Early Signs of Autism (Early Sounds and Patterns)

This study is currently open to enrollment.

The purpose of this project is to better understand the language impairments seen in children with autism by examining their ability to detect statistical regularities in speech. This study involves a single visit during which the child will sit on the parent’s lap in front of a large screen. We will record how long he or she pays attention to different patterns of objects, shapes, and sounds.

Criteria:  Children ages 15-33 months with a current autism diagnosis are eligible to participate. We are looking for parents who have English as a primary language and live within a half-hour drive of the MIND Institute.

Contact:  Contact Ryan Barry at 530-747-3808 for more information.

TADPOLE - Toddlers with Autism; Developing Opportunities for Learning

This study is currently open to enrollment.

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of early intervention for children
with ASD. Two specific questions are being asked: First, what type of intervention is
more effective? Second, how many hours of intervention should children receive per
week? Qualifying families will receive 12 months of intensive one-on-one intervention
in their homes, ongoing parent training, and assessments for their toddlers. The
intervention program children receive will be one of two well-established models,
administered for either 15 or 25 hours per week. All parents will receive coaching both
at home and at the MIND Institute. In addition to standardized assessments during the
12 months of intervention, families will be asked to participate in a follow-up assessment
one year later.

Criteria: Participants are 12-30-month-old children with ASD who live within 15 miles of
the MIND Institute in Sacramento.

Contact: Meagan Talbott at 916-703-0479 for more information.

The Early Steps Study Follow-Up

This study is currently open to enrollment.

The Early Steps Follow-Up Study is following children who previously participated in a
study of intensive intervention for very young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
(ASD). The primary goals of this study are to understand long-term outcomes for
children with ASD who received early intervention and to compare these children to
children without ASD in terms of their language, cognitive, and social abilities. The
study involves one visit to MIND Institute, during which children participate in a
comprehensive battery of tests and parents complete questionnaires and interviews.

Criteria: Children who previously participated in the Early Steps Study and children 6-7
years of age without a diagnosis of ASD.

Contact: Meagan Talbott at or (916) 703-0479

PATH - Parents and Toddlers at Home

This study is currently closed to enrollment.

The purpose of this study is to improve the learning rates, language acquisition, and overall development of 12-30-month-old children with autism by teaching their parents ways to foster their development. The project will aim to do so by modifying and testing the effects of two versions of an existing, manualized parent delivered intervention for toddlers with autism, the Early Start Denver Model parent coaching approach. The revised version of the intervention will incorporate empirically-based principles of adult learning and adult behavior change, and will involve careful individualization to each family. The project will provide treatment to 24 families of children with autism spectrum disorder aged 12-30 months. Families will be enrolled for 6 months, during which the parents will learn the intervention in the first 3 months in clinic- and/or home-based sessions. Following this learning phase, both versions of the intervention shift to a maintenance period for the remaining 3 months. We will also recruit up to six families (child age 12-36 months) to test the effectiveness of one or more components of the revised program. 

Criteria: Participants are 12-36-month old children with autism spectrum disorder. Children and their parents live within 30 miles of the MIND Institute in Sacramento, and English is a language spoken in the home.

Contact:  Deeniece Hatten at 916-703-0468 for more information.

Intensive Treatment for Toddlers with Autism (Early Steps)

This study is currently closed to enrollment.

The purpose of this study is to compare the effects of the Early Start Denver Model intervention with the commonly used intervention approaches available in the Sacramento area. Participants will complete clinical assessments and then be randomly assigned to one of two intervention groups.  For children in the Community Care group, four assessments, parent education, and follow along will be provided for approximately 2 years.  All the assessment procedures will be carried out for research, at no cost to families.  The community treatment involves standard care already available in the community.  For children randomized into the Early Start Denver Model intervention, all of the procedures, both assessments and treatment, will be carried out for research.  These families will be in the study for approximately 28 months and receive intensive 1:1 home based services for 20 hours per week.

This project is funded by Autism Speaks and the National Institutes of Mental Health, and National Institute of Child Health and Development and is one of the Autism Centers of Excellence:  ACE. Linked projects are also ongoing at University of Washington and University of Michigan.

Initial Investigation of Prevention of ASD in Infants at Risk (Infant Start)

This study is currently closed to enrollment.

This purpose of this study is to develop an intervention for infants ages 6-13 months who already have some symptoms of autism.  It will be delivered by parents during their everyday play and child care routines and will occur over a period of up to 12 weeks.  The project will adapt a current treatment that has been successful in reducing symptoms in toddlers with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), the Early Start Denver Model.  The infant treatment will focus on several early signs of autism: (1) delays in various skills; (2) unusual ways of looking at objects; (3) unusual repetitive actions on objects or body movements; (4) lack of purposeful gestural communication with parents; (5) lack of typical infant babble; (6) and lack of typical eye contact, gestures, and sounds during play times with parents.  The project will provide the treatment to up to 10 symptomatic infant siblings ages 6-11 months by supporting their parents to carry it out, using a supportive, positive coaching interaction with the parents and babies.

Expanding the Reach of Toddler-Treatment in Autism Spectrum Disorder (Remote ESDM)

This study is currently closed to enrollment.

The purpose of this study is to develop and test the use of telemedicine technology to deliver a manualized, parent-implemented intervention for families of children with ASD, ages 18-48 months.  The intervention will use an Internet-based video conferencing program to teach families how to integrate the parent curriculum of the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) into natural, developmentally and age-appropriate play activities and caretaking routines in their homes.  Families receiving treatment will access a secure online computer video conferencing program and webcam to receive 12 weekly one-hour sessions of coaching on the parent curriculum of the ESDM.  Parents will be taught how to apply intervention strategies aimed at targeting their child’s developmental deficits throughout daily play and caretaking routines.  In addition, parents will receive weekly handouts, video examples, and exercise activities summarizing the topics and practices discussed in order to continue the intervention during parent-child interactions outside of the session.  All intervention, including baseline and follow-up sessions, can occur via the teleconferencing program; thus no visits to the MIND Institute are required. 

Criteria:  English-speaking families with children who are between the ages of 18-48 months, have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)  by a licensed professional, and have not started an extensive ABA in-home or center-based intervention are eligible to participate. This project is funded by the UC Davis MIND Institute.