This is a systematic review of the impact of communication interventions on the social communication skills of infants and toddlers with or at-risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
A priori clinical questions accompanied by specific inclusion and exclusion criteria informed the extensive literature search that was conducted in multiple databases (e.g., PubMed). Twenty-six studies were accepted for this review.
Outcomes were reported by social communication category (i.e., joint attention, social reciprocity, and language and related cognitive skills) and communication developmental stage (i.e., prelinguistic, emerging language).
Primarily positive treatment effects were revealed in the majority of outcome categories for which social communication data were available.
However, the presence of intervention and outcome measure heterogeneity precluded a clear determination of intervention effects.
Future research should address these issues while also evaluating multiple outcomes and adding a strong family component designed to enhance child active engagement.
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