Exploring Parents’ Perceptions of an Early Intervention for Toddlers With Autism

Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill interviewed 12 parents who use early intervention services for their toddlers with autism to understand parents’ perceptions of the intervention and parent coaching process. Some parents reported finding it helpful to watch the interventionist modeling approaches with their children, while others valued the opportunity to practice skills in front of interventionists. Parents reported success with intervention strategies like visual supports for learning, narrative activities, following their children’s lead, and integrating choices into children’s lives. In terms of program delivery, many parents reported that sessions in the clinic were more beneficial than home visits because their children responded to the structured environment, and they could socialize with other children and parents. On the other hand, home visits were convenient and created opportunities for parents to discuss home-based challenges with the interventionist. Regarding program improvement, many interviewed parents recommended offering specific guidance and next steps, rather than general directions. Given the study’s exploratory nature and sample size, the findings offer opportunities for further research and underscore a diversity in parent experiences.