Protocol for a randomized pilot study (FIRST STEPS): implementation of the Incredible Years-ASLD® program in Spanish children with autism and preterm children with communication and/or socialization difficulties
Valencia, F., Urbiola, E., Romero-González, M., Navas, I., Elías, M., Garriz, A., Ramírez, A., and Villalta, L. (2021). Protocol for a randomized pilot study (FIRST STEPS): implementation of the Incredible Years-ASLD® program in Spanish children with autism and preterm children with communication and/or socialization difficulties. Trials 22, 291.
Having access to parenting interventions in the early years is key to improve the developmental outcomes of children with neurodevelopmental problems. The Incredible Years® (IY) Parent Program is a group intervention that has demonstrated efficacy in terms of reducing stress in parents, as well as improving behavioral, emotional, and social outcomes in children. The program has been recently adapted for families of children with autism or language delays (IY-ASLD®). This intervention has not yet been implemented in the Spanish Public Health System, where there is a scarcity of evidence-based interventions being offered to families with young children presenting neurodevelopmental problems. The main aims of this study are to determine the feasibility of implementing the IY-ASLD® program within Spanish Child Mental Health Services and to examine parents’ acceptability and satisfaction with the intervention. As a secondary objective, we aim to evaluate its preliminary effectiveness in terms of reducing parental stress and behavioral difficulties in their children. The FIRST STEPS study is a multicenter, pilot randomized controlled trial comparing the IY-ASLD® program with a treatment-as-usual (TAU) condition. Approximately 70 families of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and preterm children with communication and/or socialization difficulties (aged 2–5 years) will be recruited. Families will be assessed prior to randomization and after the intervention. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the intervention will consist of 22 weekly online sessions (approximately 6 months).
The FIRST STEPS pilot trial will demonstrate the feasibility and acceptability of reliably implementing the IY-ASLD® program within the Spanish Public Health System. The results of this study could represent the first step to inform policymakers in Spain when designing evidence-based healthcare pathways for families of children presenting ASD symptoms or neurodevelopmental difficulties at early stages.