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Combating Autism: Grant Programs

The Autism Intervention Research Network on Behavioral Health

Project Information

Center for Autism Intervention Research & Network—AIR-B


Connie Kasari, PI


Problem:
This multi-site research network addresses interventions, guidelines, tool validation, and dissemination for children with autism and their families, with a particular focus on underserved and under represented populations.

Goals and Objectives:

Goal 1: To conduct multi-site research studies that address gaps in our knowledge of treatment research for ASD.

Objective 1: To test the efficacy of evidence-based treatments across multiple sites and contexts to determine the generalizability of interventions for core deficits.
Objective 2: To examine the acceptance and efficacy of interventions for under-served and under-represented populations.
Objective 3:

Goal 2: To validate tools that could be used to improve outcome measures of treatment studies in autism.

Objective 1: To validate measures of core deficits in children with autism that can be completed with unobtrusive and rapid methods for ease of implementation in community settings.
Objective 2: To provide manuals for interventions that reflect important active ingredients and that can be widely implemented in community settings.
Objective 3: To validate tools which have sensitivity and applicability in diverse under-represented, and under-served populations.

Goal 3: To develop guidelines for the implementation of interventions for children with ASD and their families.

Objective 1: To identify and address challenges faced in the implementation of evidence-based guidelines.
Objective 2: To develop guidelines which have relevance for under-represented and under-served populations.

Goal 4: To disseminate information about evidence-based interventions and valid tools for children with ASD and their families.

Objective 1: To collectively and collaboratively publish papers on topics of interest and need to the autism community. (intervention, tools, guidelines)
Objective 2: To develop a method of dissemination to reach the widest, and most diverse populations of consumers.

Methodology:
Study Concept 1: Parent Mediated Joint Engagement Intervention. To conduct a randomized controlled multi-site study to test the efficacy of a parent training model of joint attention/joint engagement in ethnically and economically diverse samples of preschool aged children with ASD. Study Concept 2: Study of Peer Relationships at School The proposed project will modify the parent and peer school interventions as necessary to be culturally relevant to a diverse population and test effectiveness with a diverse group of primary school aged children with ASD, randomized either to community social skills group or school based social intervention. Validate Tools: Valid measures are developed that can be applied in a number of different settings by non-researchers. Develop Evidence-Based Guidelines-Partner with RAND Corporation(EPC) EPC conducts systematic reviews and technology assessments. Critical step: Identify and refine the subject area, convene a technical expert panel for review, conduct a systematic review, assess the evidence, translate the evidence into a recommendation within a clinical practice guideline, and submit guideline(s) for external review. Dissemination of Research, Guidelines, Validated Tools Develop a web based tool for searching and disseminating information about interventions.

Coordination:
Local public schools, community health clinics, and community clinicians. They will be involved in both recruitment and as sites for the intervention.

Evaluation:
The Network Steering Committee (5 PIs and Project Officer, MCHB) will monitor process and outcome objectives through regular conference calls. The Data Management and Statistical Unit will monitor recruitment and data consistency across sites. Intervention and Assessment quality assurance will be monitored through committee conference calls.

Experience to Date:
The AIR-B network has made significant progress towards their research protocols, guideline development, and dissemination activities. Research protocols have been codified, circulated and accepted by Network members. Pilot data were collected for both protocols, IRB approvals have been obtained or are pending. Data collection has begun on Protocol 2 at UCLA. Additional research protocols and supplements have been submitted for funding that involve the collaborations of the AIR-B network. The RAND Group has made substantial progress in initiating work on guideline development relating to psychosocial intervention for individuals with ASD. RAND has staffed its internal team who will be responsible for literature screening, collation, review, summary, and preparation for assessments by the Expert Panel. The external Expert Panel has been selected, with selections reviewed and approved by the AIR-B investigators. Two meetings of the Expert Panel have been held for review and feedback on the guideline project. Literature and data are currently being collected and weekly conference calls are held. Dissemination activities have been initiated and involve the development of a survey of professionals in the AIR-B group, the development of an AIR-B website with logo, and the design of web-based training manuals. Tool development will be carried out in the context of our research studies.