Practice-Based Research Syntheses

Research and Training Center on Early Childhood Development
Center for Evidence-Based Practices
Orelena Hawks Puckett Institute
Volume One



Latency to Learn in Contingency Studies of Young Children with Disabilities

Melanie Hutto, Ph.D.
Volume 1, Number 2

This research synthesis examined the relationship between the severity of developmental delay and latency to learn in contingency studies of young children with disabilities. Whereas children without disabilities learn a contingency almost immediately, studies included in this synthesis indicate that there is a latency to learn the contingency between a behavior and its consequences among children with or at-risk for delays. Results indicate the need to consider this latency when using response-contingent learning opportunities to promote behavior capabilities of young children with disabilities.



Effects of Responsive Parental Interaction Styles on Cognitive Development in Children

Carol M. Trivette, Ph.D.
Volume 1, Number 3

This research synthesis examined the effects of a responsive caregiver style of interaction on the cognitive and social-emotional development of young children with or at risk for developmental disabilities. The caregiver interactions examined in 13 studies are those that occur contingently and promptly in response to a child’s behavior and are appropriate to the child’s behavioral state. Findings indicate that this particular style of interaction has a positive influence on the cognitive development of young children even after the effects of a number of demographic variables have been controlled. This same responsive style of caregiver interaction also has a positive influence on the social-emotional development of these children. Implications for practice are described in terms of a responsive caregiver style of interaction most likely to optimize cognitive and social-emotional development of young children.



Effects of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy on Young Children with Disruptive Behavior Disorders

Natalie Gallagher, Ph.D.
Volume 1, Number 4

The behavioral and social-emotional consequences of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) were examined in 17 studies of preschool-age children identified as exhibiting a disruptive behavior disorder. These studies included 628 children, 368 of which participated in Parent-Child interaction therapy. Study findings revealed that involvement in PCIT results in statistically and clinically significant improvements in child behavior functioning. While there is some evidence that PCIT positively impacts social-emotional development, this evidence is less compelling. Implications for practice are described in terms of core relationship-building and discipline skills that parents should implement in order to optimize child behavior functioning.



Relationship Between Types of Toys and Young Children's Social Behavior
Melinda Raab, Ph.D.
Volume 1, Number 5

The relationship between types of toys and children’s social behavior with peers in group settings was the focus of this practice-based research synthesis. The practice characteristics involve the characteristics of the types of toys provided children such that the toys set the occasion for children’s social play. The synthesis results indicated that toys and play materials most associated with young children’s social play were ones that mimic real life, can be used as props for pretend play, involve turn taking or physical play, or can be used easily by two or more children. Results indicate that early childhood practitioners can use toys and play materials having these characteristics to promote social play among peers in early childhood settings.



Holding Therapy in the Treatment of Reactive Attachment Disorder
Karen Honess, B.S.
Carl J. Dunst, Ph.D.
Volume 1, Number 9

Holding therapy, a core component of attachment therapy, has been used to treat children diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder since the early 1970s. Five research studies that investigated the effectiveness of holding therapy constitute the focus of this research synthesis. As standard procedure, practitioners of attachment therapy use holding therapy in conjunction with other treatment procedures. Methodological, statistical, and study design problems of the investigations included in the review make results generally uninterpretable. The findings of this research synthesis indicate that available research does not support the use of holding therapy.



Hippotherapy and the Physical and Social-Emotional Development of Young Children with Disabilities

Pamela Rolandelli, Ph.D.
Carl J. Dunst, Ph.D.
Volume 1, Number 10

This synthesis examined the use of horseback riding as a rehabilitative therapy focused on the improvement of children's posture, balance, and mobility. The potential social/emotional benefits of this intervention are examined as well.


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