ENACT: ENvironmental enrichment for infants; parenting with ACT- an innovative intervention for infants at risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder

13 January 2023

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex, neurodevelopmental condition characterised by difficulties in social communication as well as the presence of repetitive and restricted interests and activities. Siblings of older children with ASD are at an increased risk of developing ASD themselves. Our team is testing the efficacy of ENACT, an innovative very early parenting intervention, delivered to parents of infants at risk of developing ASD. This will be done via an RCT comparing ENACT to care as usual. ENACT supports parental mental health through Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) as well as targeting parent-child interaction and parent-infant social reciprocity. The intervention is to be delivered as an e-course, ENACT101, on the edX platform.

Our team is currently testing the efficacy of ENACT, an innovative very early intervention delivered via an online course and telehealth sessions, for families of a baby with an increased chance of autism due to familial history. We are recruiting families very early, from pregnancy up until 7 weeks of age. In this randomised controlled trial, each family will be randomly assigned to either receive ENACT or usual care. ENACT combines mental health support for parents alongside a social reciprocity intervention for babies that is focussed on parents adapting to the pace and style of their baby (not forcing baby to adapt to them). All families will receive developmental reports written by our developmental paediatrician Dr Andrea McGlade following the 12-month assessment. To date 40 families have signed up for ENACT. To participate, your baby must have a first-degree relative (parent or sibling) diagnosed with autism (any autism spectrum condition, including ASD or Asperger’s Syndrome).

For more information: https://qcprrc.centre.uq.edu.au/project/enact.


Contact Details: Dr Jacqui Barfoot, Post-doctoral Research Officer, +61 (7) 3069 7547 or uqenact@uq.edu.au

Chief Investigators: Dr Koa Whittingham, Dr Andrea McGlade, Miss Kavi Kulasinghe, Dr Amy Mitchell, Prof. Ros Boyd, A/Prof. Honey Heussler

Funding: UQ Graduate School Scholarships for Dr Andrea McGlade and Miss Kavindri Kulasinghe.