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Summaries of Spanish-language projects

Summary 1:

Helping Latinx Children Who Have Autism

Please click this (link) to read a description in Spanish about a pilot study examining a parent-implemented intervention for children with autism from Latinx backgrounds.

Latinx families of children with autism face many challenges accessing high-quality healthcare services for their child. Current best practice is to provide autism services as early as possible, actively involve parents and other caregivers in the child’s intervention services, and to address core symptoms of autism within a culturally and linguistically relevant framework. However, Latinx children with autism tend to be diagnosed at later ages, have limited access to family-centered and culturally relevant intervention services, and make less progress than peers from mainstream backgrounds.

To address these disparities, Drs. Kinard and Watson from the UNC Chapel Hill Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences conducted a pilot study examining an early intervention for Spanish-speaking families of children with autism. The intervention used a parent-coaching model, where a Spanish-speaking interventionist coached parents on strategies that they could use to enhance their child’s social-communication skills. The main modification made to this program from previous versions was to translate materials into Spanish. Three families of young children with autism (2 – 4 years old) participated in the intervention. Parents also completed interviews to explore the intervention’s feasibility and acceptability for their language and culture.

Two out of three children improved social-communication behaviors after participating in the intervention, providing moderate evidence for the intervention’s effectiveness. One child did not demonstrate improvements during the intervention, possibly due to mismatches between the intervention program and the family’s cultural and linguistic background. Despite this finding, all families indicated in their interviews that the intervention program was feasible and acceptable for their culture. Future studies should explore what additional cultural and linguistic adaptations should be made to parent-coaching interventions to enhance their effectiveness for Latinx families, especially for parents who primarily speak Spanish and have limited resources to support their participation in the program. Overall, the results from this study are promising and suggest that parent-coaching interventions provide one possible avenue of reducing disparities for Spanish-speaking families of children with autism.

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