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A Multisite Study Evaluating the Benefits of Early Intervention via Telepractice

Behl, Diane D. MEd; Blaiser, Kristina PhD; Cook, Gina PhD; Barrett, Tyson BS; Callow-Heusser, Catherine PhD; Brooks, Betsy Moog MS; Dawson, Pamela MEd; Quigley, Suzanne PhD; White, Karl R. PhD

doi: 10.1097/IYC.0000000000000090
Original Research/Study
ISEI Article

This study sought to determine the effectiveness of telepractice as a method of delivering early intervention services to families of infants and toddlers who are deaf or hard of hearing. A comparison group design was applied to ascertain the child, family, and provider outcomes via telepractice compared with traditional in-person home visits. A total of 48 children and their families, along with 15 providers from 5 early intervention programs, across the country participated. Children in the telepractice group received more intervention, although the number of prescribed sessions was equal across groups. Analyses of covariance demonstrated that children in the telepractice group scored statistically significantly higher than children in the in-person group on the PLS-5 Receptive Language subscale and PLS-5 Total Language standard scores, and the groups scored similarly on other language measures. There were no statistically significant differences between groups in regard to family outcomes of support, knowledge, and community involvement. Analysis of video recordings of telepractice versus in-person home visits resulted in higher scores for provider responsiveness and parent engagement. This study supports the effectiveness of telepractice in delivering early intervention services to families of children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Further research involving randomized trials with larger, more diverse populations is warranted.

Utah State University, Logan (Ms Behl and Drs Callow-Heusser, White, and Mr Barrett); Idaho State University–Meridian (Dr Blaiser); California State University, Stanislaus (Dr Cook); Moog Center for Deaf Education, St. Louis, Missouri (Ms Brooks); hear ME now, Falmouth, Maine (Dr Dawson); and CCC-A, Listen and Talk, Seattle, Washington (Dr Quigley).

Correspondence: Diane D. Behl, MEd, Utah State University, 2615 Old Main Hill, Logan, UT 84322 (diane.behl@usu.edu).

The research team is grateful for the funding provided by the Oberkotter Foundation to conduct this important research. In turn, this study would not have been possible without the enthusiasm, commitment, and vision provided by the directors of the participating early intervention programs, hear ME now, Maine; Listen and Talk, Washington; Moog Center for Deaf Education, Missouri; Sound Beginnings, Utah, Willamette Ed. Service District, Oregon, and the hard work contributed by their providers and families. These visionary leaders have come together with the desire to further our knowledge about how to best serve families of young children who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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