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



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