developmental disabilities, parent-implemented interventions, parent-mediated interventions, communication, social-emotional development, adaptive behavior, meta-analysis


A large body of literature exists related to parent-implemented interventions for children with disabilities, so it is helpful to synthesize the results of outcome-based interventions for children with developmental disabilities. Specifically, what are the effects of parent-implemented interventions intended to improve children’s (1) social behaviors, (2) life skills/adaptive behavior, and (3) communication skills? Using meta-analytic aggregation of effect sizes across 30 studies with a total of 1,356 participants, this review examined the association between parent-implemented interventions and intended outcomes for young children with developmental disabilities. Across all 30 studies comparing children’s outcomes to control groups, the random-effects-weighted average effect size was d = 0.495 (95% confidence interval = 0.31 to 0.68). Effect sizes ranged from d = -0.28 to 3.23, with the index of heterogeneity reaching statistical significance (Q = 72.0, p < .001; I2 = 59.7%). The overall results were not moderated by the four participant characteristics evaluated—age, gender, socioeconomic status (SES), and disability. All parent-implemented interventions resulted in child outcomes that were statistically significantly better than the control group. Interventions targeting communication skills resulted in the greatest relative gains, and interventions targeting life skills/adaptive behavior resulted in the smallest relative gains (yet statistically better than the control group). Findings indicate clinical benefits when professionals include parents in interventions intended to influence the social-behavioral, communication, and adaptive development of young children with developmental disabilities.

Original Publication Citation

Dyches, T. T., Smith, T. B., Korth, B. B., & Mandleco, B. (2018). Effects of parent-implemented interventions on outcomes of children with developmental disabilities: A meta-analysis. Perspectives on Early Childhood Psychology and Education, 3(1), 137-168

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Perspectives on Early Childhood Psychology and Education




David O. McKay School of Education


Counseling Psychology and Special Education

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor