Michigan State University Secures $3.7m as Part of Study into Advanced Early Intervention for Children with Autism

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A national network of researchers investigating the effective early intervention methods for toddlers with or at-risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have secured over $14 million in total grants from the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes for Health (NIH). The multi-site clinical trial is run by the national network known as RISE (Reciprocal Imitation and Social Engagement) focusing on autism intervention and parent coaching strategies. Recently, Michigan State University (MSU), one of the trial sites, secured $3.7 million. The research team have previously investigated and demonstrated the efficacy of RIT for improving child outcomes, in addition to the feasibility and acceptability for patients and intervention providers. 

The Challenge

As reported recently by Michigan State University, the high quality, evidence-based early intervention targeting children with ASD can potentially support growth and development success. But the rapidly increasing incidence of ASD represents a challenge for publicly funded systems as they are ill-equipped to offer high-quality, evidence-based interventions.

The Study Goal

Now with another $3.7 million from NIMH, Michigan State University seeks to investigate the variance between practices, with a goal of improving services and outcomes for those children exhibiting early signs of ASD. The primary focus of this study is the investigation into the effectiveness of Reciprocal Imitation Teaching or RIT.

The study’s website can be viewed here.

Principal Investigator Point of View

Brooke Ingersoll serves as director of MSU’s Autism Research Lab and as the lead investigator representing the MSU trial site. Ingersoll went on the record, “The goal of this research is to increase timely and equitable access to ASD-specialized early intervention during the critical first three years of life by capitalizing on the existing infrastructure of early intervention systems that are publicly funded and available in all U.S. States.”

“This project will train early intervention providers to use an evidence-based, inexpensive, parent-implemented intervention that can improve child and family outcomes,” Ingersoll said. “RIT is ideally suited for early intervention settings because it is low intensity, play-based, easy to learn and implement and can be taught to family members for their independent use.”

Lead Research/Investigator

Brooke Ingersoll, PhD, associate professor, director of the MSU Autism Lab