Video Feedback Intervention Teaches Parents to Effectively Communicate with Their Infants
A new study looks at video-based therapy for families with babies at risk of ASD
What is parent-led intervention and why is it important?
Parent-led intervention is a type of therapy where the parent or caregiver carries out the strategies with their own child. Parents are trained in the strategies by professionals, and then they are asked to continue using them during their daily interactions with their child. This type of intervention is helpful because young children typically spend the majority of their time with caregivers, and it provides an opportunity for them to be constantly learning throughout the day rather than only during the hour a week they interact with a therapist.
Research has shown that parent-child communication has an important impact on a child’s development, and that young children who receive parent-led intervention improve more than those who receive therapist-led intervention.
Parents can be trained in a number of ways including discussions, modeling, coaching, or performance feedback. The study we summary below trained parents using a video feedback system.
What is the iBASIS-VIPPP program?
In a 2017 study conducted by Green and colleagues, families received an intervention called the British Autism Study of Infant Siblings’ Video Interaction for Promoting Positive Parenting intervention (iBASIS-VIPPP). iBASIS-VIPPP is designed to help parents learn about their infant’s individual communication style. The goal is to help parents recognize their child’s attempts at communication (which can be subtle in infancy), understand what the child is trying to say, and adapt their interactions to fit with their child’s individual style.
Therapists did home visits with the participants where they video recorded the parent and child during their daily activities. The therapist would use the video to provide individualized feedback to the parent, and parents were able to learn more about how they interact with their child by watching themselves.
iBASIS-VIPPP is a preemptive intervention, which means that it is started early in life for infants who are at risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This early period is essential because the brain’s ability to change in response to new information is greatest during infancy. In other words, infants can learn and change a lot in response to therapy during this time. The idea is that if early signs of social and language differences associated with autism are addressed before potential diagnosis, children’s skills will be strengthened and they may have less difficulty later in life. The goal, however, is not to prevent a diagnosis, but to improve development in order to help children have a greater quality of life as they continue to grow.
What was studied?
The researchers tested to see if iBASIS-VIPPP achieves its goal of strengthening communication between parents and children. They wanted to see if the therapy improved the parents’ ability to effectively engage with their child and whether it would lessen early behaviors associated with autism.
They studied approximately 50 infants between 7 and 10 months of age who were at risk of autism because someone in their family was diagnosed with ASD. The infants were not observed before the study. Therefore, they were not chosen based on whether or not they had any early signs of autism.
Half of the infants were given between 6-12 sessions of iBASIS-VIPPP intervention over a 6-month period, and the other half received no intervention. All of the infants were assessed at nine months (before intervention), at 15 months (after intervention was complete for the first group), and at 27- and 39-months-old to test how they continued to develop over time.
What were the results?
The iBASIS-VIPPP intervention increased the children’s awareness and interest in others. The children who received the therapy initiated communication with their parents significantly more often that those who did not receive therapy. The amount of times that parents responded to their child also increased significantly, and parents demonstrated more instances of encouraging their children rather than directing them. There was no difference in the number of children who later received a diagnosis of ASD between groups which supports the idea that iBASIS-VIPPP does not prevent diagnosis.
For most measures, the results were consistent or continued to improve months after therapy ended. However, parental responsiveness to their children did begin to decline over time.
What does this mean for me as a parent?
- Your communication with your child is significant to his/her growth and improvement!
- Make an active effort to observe and learn from your child’s therapist(s) so that you can use intervention strategies with your child on a daily basis. Better yet, ask if you can try the strategies while they coach you. That is the best way to learn!
- Take time to notice your child’s behavior when you are interacting with them one-on-one so that you can learn more about how they express what they are feeling and how you can best get their attention.
- Take time to notice your own behavior when you are interacting with your child so that you are aware of what’s working and what could be changed.
- Continue doing 3 and 4 even after therapy is over so that your communication with your child continues to stay strong over time.
Green, J., Pickles, A., Pasco, G., Bedford, R., Wan, M.W., Elsabbagh, M., Slonims, V., Gliga, T., Jones, E.J.H., Cheung, C.H.M., Charman, T., Johnson, M.H. (2017). Randomized trial of a parent-mediated intervention for infants at high risk for autism: longitudinal outcomes to age 3 years. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.