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Caregiver perceptions based on child attributes (Miletic et al., 2024)

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posted on 2024-02-21, 15:32 authored by Katarina Miletic, Michelle Servais, Janis Oram Cardy, Lauren Denusik

Purpose: More Than Words® (MTW) is a caregiver-mediated intervention program led by a speech-language pathologist (SLP) who teaches caregivers strategies to support their autistic child’s early social communication and play development. The program includes group sessions composed of multiple families with children of varying profiles. We explored whether caregiver experiences and perceived outcomes of the virtual MTW program differed depending on the child’s age and social communication stage.

Method: As part of a program evaluation of virtual MTW delivered to over 2,000 families in Ontario, Canada, between 2020 and 2021, we randomly selected 31 families across four social communication stages and two age groups using stratified sampling (n = 4, in all but one subgroup). The Final Reflection and Evaluation form was analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively, and a modified RE-AIM framework guided our analyses, including theme development.

Results: Child attributes did not appear to impact caregivers’ experiences, but perceived child skill improvements varied by children’s social communication stage. The majority of caregivers reported changes in how they interact with their child. Four themes emerged: (a) perceived child skill improvements differed by social communication stage, (b) caregivers gained new knowledge and strategies regardless of child attributes, (c) SLPs effectively managed families’ individual needs, and (d) program components were appropriate for a variety of families.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that the content taught in the MTW program was relevant for a variety of children, including those beyond the program’s intended age of 5 years and under. Grouping families of children with varying profiles does not appear to negatively influence caregivers’ experiences or perceived outcomes.

Supplemental Material S1. Results from chi-square analysis of closed-ended question responses and child attributes.

Supplemental Material S2. Final Reflection and Evaluation form.

Miletic, K., Servais, M., Cardy, J. O., & Denusik, L. (2024). Do caregiver perceptions of the virtual More Than Words® program differ based on autistic children’s attributes? American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 33(3), 1127–1141.


The larger program evaluation within which this project was completed was funded by the University of Western Ontario and conducted by the authors at the request of The Hanen Centre in Toronto, Ontario.