Implementation of the developmental, individual -differences, relationship-based (DIR) model in a preschool for children with autism spectrum disorders

W. Mack Bartels, Pace University


This study seeks to investigate the application of the Developmental, Individual Difference, Relationship-Based (DIR) model to a preschool setting. The ten children participating in this treatment were evaluated across four dimensions; level of autistic severity, as measured by the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS); degree of sensory impairment, as measured by the Sensory Profile (SP); and their functional emotional development as measured by the Functional Emotional Assessment Scale (FEAS). The parents of the children participating in this study also completed the Parenting Stress Index/Short Form (PSUSF). The participants were videotaped on twice, once in November and a second time in late May or early June and then rated using the above-mentioned instruments. While the results did not reveal statistically significance changes from time one to time two for the group, individual children did demonstrate improvements in functional emotional abilities (FEAS and FDGQ improvements) as well as decreased autistic symptomatology (CARS). Contrary to the experimenter's hypothesis, the children participating in this study demonstrated increased sensory dysfunction on the SP while other measures of autistic symptoms remained constant or improved. This finding suggests that the parent's perceptions and understanding of how sensory functioning affects their children changed from time one to time two and affected their SP scores. No Statistically significant differences were observed between time one and time two on the PSI/SF. While behavioral interventions have been found to improve IQ functioning and educational status in children with autism, there is little research specifically focusing on improving social and emotional functioning. More research needs to be conducted on interventions that target the social and emotional development of children with autism. Given the improvements documented by some children participating in a DIR modeled preschool program, further research on this intervention method will be necessary.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Educational psychology|Preschool education

Recommended Citation

Bartels, W. Mack, "Implementation of the developmental, individual -differences, relationship-based (DIR) model in a preschool for children with autism spectrum disorders" (2004). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3129914.



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