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JASPER (Joint Attention, Symbolic Play, Engagement, and Regulation) is a treatment approach based on a combination of developmental and behavioral principles developed by Dr. Connie Kasari at UCLA. It targets the foundations of social communication (joint attention, imitation, play) and uses naturalistic strategies to increase the rate and complexity of social communication.
Research, Evidence, & Results
Over the past 15 years, JASPER has been tested in randomized controlled trials (RCTs) involving nearly 500 children with ASD with studies conducted both within the Kasari Lab and by independent researchers. Across many independent trials evaluating JASPER’s efficacy, we found improvements in joint engagement, social communication, and emotion regulation with decreasing negativity over time, as well as increasing parental co-regulation strategies. JASPER was one of two social communication interventions recommended by the UK NICE as evidence based (2013).
JASPER has been empirically tested with many children, ranging in age from 12 months to 8 years, with a wide range of developmental abilities. It can be implemented by parents, teachers, clinicians, paraprofessionals, and other related service providers. The intervention works well in conjunction with other behavioral-based therapies and can be naturally incorporated into inclusion and special education classrooms and every day activities in the home. The only required materials are developmentally-appropriate toys or activities.
Joint attention (JA) is the coordination of attention between objects and people for the purpose of sharing. Our studies show that children with ASD use more JA when these skills are modeled and taught directly.
We model appropriate play, facilitate joint attention within play routines, and encourage greater diversity in types of play with the goal of helping children increase their diversity, flexibility, and level of play.
Increases in engagement are critical because they lead to more opportunities for social communication and learning. For this reason, we aim to help children with ASD reach higher states of joint engagement with others.
Our approach stresses the importance of emotion and behavior regulation. We offer a number of strategies to address lack of engagement, self-stimulatory behaviors, and regulation challenges in children with ASD.
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