Child-Directed Interaction Treatment for Children on the Autism Spectrum

  • John Paul AbnerEmail author
  • Leah N. Clionsky
  • Nicole Ginn Dreiling


This chapter briefly explores the research currently supporting Child-Directed Interaction (CDI) as a treatment modality both as part of broader Parent–Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) framework and as a stand-alone intervention. It examines theoretical reasons why CDI is an effective and appropriate intervention that benefits children, parents, and the parent–child relationship as a whole as well as its unique value for children on the autism spectrum. The authors discuss effective CDI coaching strategies useful in both PCIT and CDI for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), including expanding play ideas, working with stereotyped interests, exploring the appropriateness of using labeled praises as reinforcers, and tailoring reflections for children with limited speech. The authors also suggest therapeutic guidelines for parents who rapidly reach mastery and address issues that commonly occur around the “Don’t” skills. Finally, the authors deliberate policy issues concerning the expansion of CDI as a stand-alone treatment to a broader base of health care providers.


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) Parent–Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) Child-directed play Child-Directed Interaction (CDI) Play therapy Parents 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Paul Abner
    • 1
    Email author
  • Leah N. Clionsky
    • 2
  • Nicole Ginn Dreiling
    • 3
  1. 1.Milligan CollegeJohnson CityUSA
  2. 2.Thriving Child Center PLLCSugarlandUSA
  3. 3.University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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