By Dr David Trembath
N1 program: Understanding Outcomes, One Child at a Time
As a parent, speech pathologist, and researcher in the field of ASD, I am yet to meet a child who does not learn, laugh, and grow in his or her own unique and important way. Indeed, it is the idiosyncrasies in our children that as parents we love and celebrate, which make classrooms interesting and fun to be in, and which inspire us to tailor the way we teach to each child’s interests, strengths, and personality. But how can we best chart each child’s individual course of learning in early life, and make discoveries from the different ways they learn? How can we measure intervention outcomes in a consistent manner when working with children with a spectrum of individual strengths and needs, while implementing a variety of different interventions? In a new clinically-focused research project we are attempting to address these issues, one child at a time.
Recently, we launched an online training package that teaches allied health professionals to implement simple, yet powerful, Single Case Experimental Research Designs in everyday clinical practice. Known as the N1 package, this freely available set of modules shows clinicians how to measure each child’s learning progress through a series of simple, but important steps. This takes the ‘guesswork’ out of treatment, because clinicians and parents can easily see how a child is progressing, make changes to treatment if necessary, and know when learning goals have been achieved. Clinicians and researchers can compare outcomes across different children, while taking into account their individual learning strengths and needs.
To test the effectiveness of this package we recently completed a study involving 46 allied health professionals, who we randomly assigned to two groups. The first group completed the training package, whereas the second group continued to work in their usual way. The results to date are very encouraging. Allied health professionals who completed the training demonstrated significantly greater knowledge and confidence in using Single Case Experimental Research Designs in their everyday clinical practice at the end of the study. This suggests that this relatively simple and freely available training package has the capacity to lead to big and important changes in the way allied health professionals work and the services children and families receive. Our next step is to secure funding to conduct a study that will measure the impact of this training in everyday clinical settings, including the benefits for children with ASD, their families, and the community at large.
For more information or to support this study, please follow the link.