Parent-Mediated Play-Based Interventions to Improve Social Communication and Language Skills of Preschool Autistic Children: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

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Play-based interventions are gaining popularity amongst autistic children. Parents are uniquely placed to deliver these interventions as they are most familiar with their child’s strengths and challenges. Accordingly, reporting the effectiveness of play-based interventions and/or parent-delivered or mediated early-years interventions have been popular topics in the literature in the last decade. Despite this, little is known about the efficacy of parent-mediated play-based interventions on developmental outcomes of autistic children. To close this gap in knowledge, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials and quasi-experiments focusing on social communication skills, language skills, and autistic characteristics of preschool autistic children (0-6-year-old) in non-educational settings. Overall, 26 studies met the inclusion criteria 21 of which were included in the synthesis. Of the included studies, 20 studies reported social communication skills, 15 studies reported language skills, and 12 studies reported autistic characteristics. Pooling effect sizes across the included studies showed that parent-mediated play-based interventions were effective on social communication (d=.63) and language skills (d=.40) as well as autistic characteristics (d=-.19) of preschool autistic children. The current findings suggest that parent-mediated play-based interventions hold promise for improving the quality of life for preschool autistic children.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalReview Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Early online date14 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 May 2024

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© The Author(s) 2024

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