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What is this research study about?

This study aims to investigate the efficacy of a very early intervention approach for infants who are more likely to be diagnosed at some point in the future as autistic – that is, infants with a parent or sibling who already has an autism diagnosis.

The intervention is called ENACT (Environmental Enrichment for infants; parenting with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) and it targets social reciprocity from the earliest months, using ordinary parent-infant interaction. In addition, ENACT incorporates strategies to support parental mental health and wellbeing, as well as coping with parenting challenges such as infant sleep. ENACT is delivered online, beginning antenatally, and combines an online e-course with online consultations with a clinician, supporting parents in tailoring the intervention to best meet their own individual needs and the needs of their baby.

Why should I help?

  • If you are randomised to receive the intervention, you will have the opportunity to participate in an intervention that aims to support your mental health and wellbeing as a parent as well as promote your baby’s social interactions from birth.
  • All babies participating will have comprehensive developmental assessments undertake at 6 and 12 months of age. All participants will receive a report from the developmental paediatrician detailing their child’s 12-month developmental assessment free of charge.
  • You will be helping contribute to knowledge about autism and how best to support those families and infants who have an elevated likelihood of a later diagnosis of autism.

If ENACT is found to be effective, because it is an online intervention, it can be made accessible to families with children who have an elevated likelihood of Autism Spectrum Disorder across the world.

Who can take part?

You are invited to take part in this study if:

  • You are currently pregnant with a child who has a first-degree relative (a mother, father, sister or brother) who has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  • You have reliable internet access (e.g. ADSL)
  • You are able to visit the Children’s Health Research Centre in Brisbane when your infant is 6 months and 12 months old for in-person developmental assessments.

Families are not eligible to participate if their baby has a known chromosomal or neurological condition.

Who is conducting this study?

Researchers from The University of Queensland are conducting this study.

What will I be asked to do?

At the start of the study you will complete initial online assessments and then be randomly allocated into either the ENACT intervention group or the Care as Usual group.

  • If you are in the ENACT group participation in the study will involve getting access to and completing the e-course (ENACT101), being supported by a clinician through regular video consultation sessions and completing assessments when your child is 3,6 and 12 months of age.
  • If you are in the Care as Usual group participation in the study will involve receiving your usual postnatal care and completing assessments when your child is 3,6, and 12 months of age.

When and where?

If you are randomised to the intervention group, you will be able to conduct all of the intervention in your own home and at your own pace. Clinician video-conference consultations will be arranged at a time that is convenient for you.

When your baby is aged 6 and 12 months, you will be required to come to South Brisbane, where the assessments for your baby will take place.

To find out more about the study and register to participate:

If you would like to take part in this study, or have questions and would like more information you can call one of the Chief Investigators Dr Andrea McGlade or Miss Kavindri Kulasinghe.

Please feel free to forward this information to others who might also be interested in participating.

Phone us to discuss how we can help you.

Call 1800 277 328

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Enquire with Autism Spectrum Australia