Effects of a parent training using telehealth: Equity and access to early intervention for rural families
Children living in geographically rural areas may have limited access to early, intensive evidence-based interventions suggesting children residing in these areas are less likely to experience positive outcomes than their urban-dwelling peers. Telehealth offers an option to rural families seeking early intervention by using communication technologies where providers are able to consult and deliver services in real-time over geographical distances. To our knowledge, no other study has examined the implementation of P-ESDM in rural natural environments within the framework of the state’s early intervention program. Using a multiple baseline design across participants, the current study investigated the effects of the parent-Early Start Denver Model implemented within a rural northeastern state’s existing IDEA Part C early intervention program. Parents demonstrated increased fidelity to intervention strategies and reported satisfaction with the program’s ease of implementation and observed child gains. Statistically significant pre-to post- change in children’s ASD symptomatology were reported for the domains of communication, social reciprocity and repetitive and restricted behaviors. Support for parent-mediated interventions, the importance of fidelity of implementation for sustainability of intervention strategies, and the need to explore telehealth as a viable service delivery option to improve developmental trajectories for toddlers with autism are discussed.
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