Brief Report: Feasibility and Preliminary Efficacy of a Behavioral Intervention for Minimally Verbal Girls with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Tom CariveauEmail author
  • M. Alice Shillingsburg
  • Arwa Alamoudi
  • Taylor Thompson
  • Brittany Bartlett
  • Scott Gillespie
  • Lawrence Scahill
Brief Report


We report the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of a structured behavioral intervention with a sample of minimally verbal girls with autism spectrum disorder between the ages of 2 and 6 years old. Ten participants with no functional vocal behavior were randomized to a 4-week behavioral intervention or waitlist control group. Caregivers reported child communicative repertoires at pre- and post-randomization assessments. Social communication was also assessed at these time points using the Early Social Communication Scales. All feasibility benchmarks were met and findings of preliminary efficacy showed large effect sizes within groups. The current findings suggest the feasibility of recruiting and retaining samples of young, minimally verbal girls with autism spectrum disorder in randomized clinical trials.


Feasibility Female Intervention Minimally verbal Sex differences 



The current study was funded by an Autism Science Foundation Postdoctoral Training Award received by the first author (Grant Number: 16 − 002). We would like to thank Addison Welch, Jack Tilman, Kira Clement, and Siena Tetali for their assistance with various aspects of this study.

Author Contributions

TC conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination, and drafted the manuscript; MAS conceived of the study and participated in its design and coordination; AA participated in the acquisition of data and coordination of the study; TT participated in the acquisition of data and coordination of the study; BB participated in the acquisition of data and coordination of the study; SG participated in the design, interpretation of the data, and performed the statistical analysis; LS conceived the study, participated in the design and interpretation of the data, and helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This study was funded by the Autism Science Foundation (Grant Number 16 − 002).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Tom Cariveau has received a research grant from the Autism Science Foundation. M. Alice Shillingsburg declares that she has no conflict of interest. Arwa Alamoudi declares that she has no conflict of interest. Taylor Thompson declares that she has no conflict of interest. Brittany Bartlett declares that she has no conflict of interest. Scott Gillespie declares that he has no conflict of interest. Lawrence Scahill has served as a consultant for Roche, Shire, Supernus, Neurocrine, Janssen, Yamo, and the Tourette Association of America. He also receives royalties from Guilford Press and Oxford University Press.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

10803_2018_3872_MOESM1_ESM.docx (15 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 14 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tom Cariveau
    • 1
    Email author
  • M. Alice Shillingsburg
    • 2
  • Arwa Alamoudi
    • 3
  • Taylor Thompson
    • 4
  • Brittany Bartlett
    • 4
  • Scott Gillespie
    • 4
    • 5
  • Lawrence Scahill
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.University of North Carolina WilmingtonWilmingtonUSA
  2. 2.The May InstituteRandolphUSA
  3. 3.University of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  4. 4.Marcus Autism CenterAtlantaUSA
  5. 5.Emory University School of MedicineAtlantaUSA

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