The study, which was published in The Journal of Applied Behavioral Analysis, involved 25 adults who had a child diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder and had no experience in applied behavior analysis (ABA) intervention. Recruited by Fisher and his colleagues, 13 adults were assigned to the treatment group while 12 were placed in a control group that didn’t receive virtual training. The control group, however, continued with other behavioral programs they had been using.
While participating, parents were evaluated for their ability to implement the behavioral procedures they learned virtually and through specialist-aided scripted role-play. Prior to and at the conclusion of virtual learning, expert observers viewed footage of how parents in the treatment and control groups responded to researchers who used a script to mimic behaviors typically shown in children who have autism. They included appropriate actions such as spurring conversation and inappropriate ones such as aggression.