Extending the Reach of Early Intervention Training for Practitioners: A Preliminary Investigation of an Online Curriculum for Teaching Behavioral Intervention Knowledge in Autism to Families and Service Providers

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Abstract

Early behavioral intervention (BI), based on the methods of applied behavior analysis, has the strongest and most consistent scientific support as a means of teaching skills to young children with autism spectrum disorder and reducing their restricted and maladaptive behavior. Although individual applied behavior analysis (ABA)-based treatment plans are usually developed, designed, and supervised by a senior-level clinician, they are most often implemented by a practitioner, such as a parent, direct service provider, aide, or an early childhood professional from a related discipline. Unfortunately, few practitioner-orientated training programs are available to geographically disparate persons. Online distance-learning education offers a potential solution to this problem. Fifty-one individuals participated in an initial study of a short, 3-module online course. The results showed a highly statistically significant difference between the mean pretest and posttest scores. The outcomes suggest the feasibility and user satisfaction of teaching BI knowledge acquisition online and thus bolster confidence that future, larger-scale curricula aimed at teaching BI in a distance-learning format is warranted.

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