Using SMART Treatment Design to Evaluate Applied Behavior Analysis Interventions on Communication in Preschool Children with Autism

Short Title

Rowan University

Project Description

This study evaluates two applied behavior analysis, Discrete Trial Instruction (DTI) and Verbal Behavior Approach (VBA) treatments on communication in preschool children with ASD, and explores the match between treatment and the child's initial level of functioning.

The Rowan Autism Program is investigating the efficacy of applied behavior analysis treatments for children 2-5 years of age who have been diagnosed with autism. All children in the study will receive treatment. Treatment will be delivered at Rowan University 3 times/week for 16 weeks. Some children may be assigned to receive treatment 5 times/week. Assessments to evaluate the intervention will occur at baseline, 2-months and 4-months. For more information, call 856-256-4846 or email

Selection Criteria

Inclusion Criteria

  1. Previous clinical diagnosis of ASD based on DSM-V which is confirmed via scores on ADOS-2.
  2. Between the ages of 2 and 5 years.
  3. Receptive language age of at least 12 months on the MSEL
  4. Minimum of at least 2 spoken words during the administration of the ADOS-2
  5. Parent/guardian is willing to transport the child to intervention sessions at Rowan University
  6. English Speaking
  7. Parent/Guardian agrees not to start any new therapies during the 4 months of the study without speaking to PI first
  8. Parent/Guardian is willing to allow therapist-child and novel adult-child interaction assessment sessions to be video recorded and to complete assessment batteries at 8-weeks and 4-months.

Exclusion Criteria

  1. Medical histories and/or physical examination indicating physical or sensory impairments or significant medical problems (e.g., seizure disorders) that would interfere with learning.
  2. Exhibits severe aggression or self-injurious behavior

What's Involved

90 minute sessions will occur 3 times each week, lasting 4 months. Parents and children will be asked to participate in 3 assessments over 4 months.


Intervention sessions are provided at no cost. Parents will be compensated for completing the assessments.
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Team Members

Mary Louise E. Kerwin
Principal Investigator
(856) 256-4846

Michelle Soreth

Contact Info
(856) 256-4821
201 Mullica Hill Road
Glassboro, NJ 08028