Peer-mediated Early Start Denver Model “playdates” for a young child with autism spectrum disorder: a case study

By Lauren van Noorden, Hannah Waddington, Larah van der Meer & Jessica Tupou


For young children with an autism spectrum disorder, deficits in social skills can impede appropriate peer interactions. The Early Start Denver Model is a promising intervention for young children with an autism spectrum disorder, however, research on including peers in the delivery of the Early Start Denver Model appears to be sparse.

This case study evaluated the outcome of a 3-week peer-mediated home-based Early Start Denver Model “playdate” intervention for a young boy with an autism spectrum disorder and a typically developing peer. Outcomes relating to peer engagement and play were assessed. A pre-post two-phase design was used, with follow-up probes 7-weeks post-intervention.

Preliminary results suggest moderate positive effects for parallel play and participation. No effect was found for vocalisations or typically developing child initiations. The intervention was rated as acceptable by both families, which indicates good social validity. Implications and areas for future research are discussed.

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