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 and Evidence
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.
Scientific background: Keynote address by Connie Kasari
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is JASPER?
JASPER is an evidence-based, targeted social communication intervention developed for children with ASD. The primary goal is to develop moments of engagement and to create moments throughout the day to focus on developing social skills. The main focus of the intervention is on play - play is motivating for kids and what they tend to enjoy.
Is JASPER different from other therapies?
JASPER is a naturalistic developmental intervention; it merges developmental and behavioral research into a unified intervention model. It can be integrated as part of an existing therapy program to focus specifically on social communication skills. JASPER intervention takes a child's development into account, and identifies individual target areas.
How do I know if my child needs JASPER?
JASPER was originally developed for children with autism, but it is expected to benefit a wide range of children. There is flexibility in the targets of intervention, and is always personalized to the child. Many young participants do not have an autism diagnosis, and about half of children enrolled may have clinically significant ASD symptoms. Some may have developmental concerns, and may have clinically relevant social symptoms. Throughout our study, parents will receive feedback on development and additional guidance for treatment and therapy.
Does starting JASPER earlier improve outcomes?
JASPER works on foundational skills, and expands these skills as children get older. The intervention adjusts to wherever the child is at developmentally, and we see good outcomes whether a child starts early or a little later.
Publications on Jasper
Kasari, C., Freeman, S., & Paparella, T. (2006). Joint attention and symbolic play in young children with autism: A randomized controlled intervention study. Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry, 47, 611-620.
Kasari, C., Freeman, S., Paparella, T., Wong, C., Kwon, S., & Gulsrud, A. (2005). Early Intervention in Autism: Focus on Core Deficits. Clinical Neuropsychiatry, 2, 380-388.
For more information about the 10+ randomized control trials on JASPER, click below.