Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 48, Issue 9, pp 3144–3162 | Cite as

Efficacy of the ASAP Intervention for Preschoolers with ASD: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial

  • Brian A. BoydEmail author
  • Linda R. Watson
  • Stephanie S. Reszka
  • John Sideris
  • Michael Alessandri
  • Grace T. Baranek
  • Elizabeth R. Crais
  • Amy Donaldson
  • Anibal Gutierrez
  • LeAnne Johnson
  • Katie Belardi
Original Paper


The advancing social-communication and play (ASAP) intervention was designed as a classroom-based intervention, in which the educational teams serving preschool-aged children with autism spectrum disorder are trained to implement the intervention in order to improve these children’s social-communication and play skills. In this 4-year, multi-site efficacy trial, classrooms were randomly assigned to ASAP or a business-as-usual control condition. A total of 78 classrooms, including 161 children, enrolled in this study. No significant group differences were found for the primary outcomes of children’s social-communication and play. However, children in the ASAP group showed increased classroom engagement. Additionally, participation in ASAP seemed to have a protective effect for one indicator of teacher burnout. Implications for future research are discussed.


Autism spectrum disorder ASAP Randomized controlled trial School interventions Engagement Social-communication 



The research reported here was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), US Department of Education through Grant R324A110256 awarded to UNC-Chapel Hill. The opinions expressed represent those of the authors and do not represent views of the Institute or the US Department of Education. Because this was an IES-funded grant, the ASAP randomized controlled trial was registered with the What Works Clearinghouse’s Registry of Randomized Controlled Trials (Study ID: 342; registered on 10/19/2015 In addition, we wish to thank all of the coaches and research staff who assisted with this project as well as the school personnel who participated in this study and the parents who agreed for their children to participate. Drs. Boyd, Watson, Crais and Baranek are developers of the ASAP manuals and accompanying intervention and training materials, but receive no royalties. Dr. Boyd receives royalties for a book published through the Springer International Publishing company.

Author Contributions

BAB and LRW conceived of the study, participated in the design, and drafted the manuscript. SSR coordinated the study and drafted the manuscript. JS performed the statistical analysis and drafted the manuscript. GTB and ERC conceived of the study, participated in the design and provided editorial feedback. MA, AD, AG and LJ participated in the design of the study and provided editorial feedback. KB participated in the collection and analysis of data and provided editorial feedback.


The research reported here was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), US Department of Education through Grant R324A110256 awarded to UNC-Chapel Hill.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Drs. Alessandri, Belardi, Donaldson, Gutierrez, Johnson, Reszka and Sideris declare that they have no conflict of interest to disclose.

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 individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

10803_2018_3584_MOESM1_ESM.docx (57 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 57 KB)
10803_2018_3584_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (243 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 242 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian A. Boyd
    • 1
    • 9
    Email author
  • Linda R. Watson
    • 2
  • Stephanie S. Reszka
    • 1
  • John Sideris
    • 3
    • 4
  • Michael Alessandri
    • 5
  • Grace T. Baranek
    • 1
    • 3
  • Elizabeth R. Crais
    • 2
  • Amy Donaldson
    • 6
  • Anibal Gutierrez
    • 5
  • LeAnne Johnson
    • 7
  • Katie Belardi
    • 2
    • 8
  1. 1.Department of Allied Health SciencesUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Division of Speech and Hearing SciencesUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  3. 3.USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and TherapyLos AngelesUSA
  4. 4.FPG Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  5. 5.Department of Psychology, College of Arts and SciencesUniversity of MiamiCoral GablesUSA
  6. 6.Department of Speech and Hearing SciencesPortland State UniversityPortlandUSA
  7. 7.Special Education ProgramsUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  8. 8.Speech-Language Pathology, Rangos School of Health SciencesDuquesne UniversityPittsburghUSA
  9. 9.Juniper Gardens Children’s ProjectUniversity of KansasKansas CityUSA

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