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Efficacy of the Direct Instruction Language for Learning Program to Promote Expressive and Receptive Language in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder


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As many as 75% of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have language delay ranging from moderate to extreme. Many interventions have been developed to address language delay including intensive treatment using applied behavior analysis (ABA). Although often effective for severe language delay (e.g., children with no language), intensive ABA intervention may not be needed for children with moderate language delay. Untreated moderate language delay predictably interferes with the childs ability to advance in the social and academic domains. Direct Instruction - Language for Learning (DI-LL) is a highly structured intervention with empirical support in children with language delay uncomplicated by ASD. However, DI-LL has not yet been carefully studied in children with ASD. As in ABA, the DI-LL curriculum incorporates immediate reinforcement for correct responses, immediate and systematic error correction procedures, shaping, prompting, and fading. To date, there is only one small study of DI-LL in children with ASD and language delay. The purpose of this study is to test the efficacy of DI-LL in a six-month randomized clinical trial in children with ASD and moderate language delay. Eligible subjects will be randomly assigned to DI-LL plus Treatment As Usual (TAU) or TAU alone for 6 months. Children in DI-LL return for follow up at 3 and 6 months post-treatment.



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