Can one hour per week of therapy lead to lasting changes in young children with autism?

Laurie A. Vismara, Costanza Colombi, Sally J Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

151 Scopus citations


Deficits in attention, communication, imitation, and play skills reduce opportunities for children with autism to learn from natural interactive experiences that occur throughout the day. These developmental delays are already present by the time these children reach the toddler period. The current study provided a brief 12 week, 1 hour per week, individualized parent-child education program to eight toddlers newly diagnosed with autism. Parents learned to implement naturalistic therapeutic techniques from the Early Start Denver Model, which fuses developmental- and relationship-based approaches with Applied Behavior Analysis into their ongoing family routines and parent-child play activities. Results demonstrated that parents acquired the strategies by the fifth to sixth hour and children demonstrated sustained change and growth in social communication behaviors. Findings are discussed in relation to providing parents with the necessary tools to engage, communicate with, and teach their young children with autism beginning immediately after the diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-115
Number of pages23
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009


  • Autism
  • Early Start Denver Model
  • Parent education
  • Therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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