Preschoolers with autism spectrum conditions: The impact of a home-based intervention to promote their communication

The complexities that practitioners face in evaluating interventions are illustrated in this article.
An early intervention programme (known as Keyhole), based mainly around Treatment and
Education of Autistic and related Communications handicapped CHildren (TEACCH), Picture
Exchange Communication System (PECS) and Hanen approaches, was delivered to 35 families
through 15–18 home visits over a nine-month period. In addition, 26 families acted as a contrast
group. A range of measures were used on a pre–post basis along with qualitative data from
participants. The children as a whole showed significant improvements on different indices of
communication and these were greater than those reported in the contrast group. Mothers too
improved on measures of health but not of stress. These findings add to the accumulating
evidence that family-delivered, communication-based interventions are effective. Lesson for
service-based evaluations are drawn; in particular the reasons for the individual variation in
children’s and parental responses require closer investigation.