Abstract [from journal]
For preschool children with autism, individual (one-to-one) behavioral interventions are among the best-tested treatments. However, they are rarely used in special education preschools. We observed formally and informally delivered one-to-one behavioral interventions use by classroom staff (n = 51) in 12 classrooms across three special education preschools for children with autism, aged 3-6 years, in a major US city. We estimated the associations between one-to-one intervention use and classroom characteristics including staff-student ratio, professional role composition, and frequency of challenging child behaviors. As a whole, the factors we examined were considerably important for both formally and informally delivered one-to-one interventions. The number of individually assigned personal care aides in the classroom was negatively associated with the use of formally delivered one-to-one intervention. Classroom challenging behavior was positively associated with use of formally delivered one-to-one interventions. Interventionist's professional roles and the number of children in the class were most important for the use of informally delivered interventions. Staff training, clarifying professional roles, setting performance expectations for personal care aides and other classroom team members, and reducing class size may represent promising implementation targets. Findings suggest caution around task-shifting policies that transfer clinical functions from more highly trained to less highly trained staff.