Home > Research Projects > Feasibility of the Autism Navigator® Training in South Africa. 

Feasibility of the Autism Navigator® Training in South Africa. 


Title: Feasibility of the Autism Navigator® Training in South Africa. Co-investigator and project manager. Florida State University Autism Institute funding; July 2014 – present.

1. Autism Navigator® for Primary Care

Problem: Symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be detected reliably between 18 and 24 months of age. However, the typical age of detection is much later, and valuable years for early intervention are lost. There is an urgent need for training in the early red flags of ASD.

Project: This study examined the feasibility of the Autism Navigator® for Primary Care professional development course in South Africa. This is a web-based course designed for health professionals to raise awareness of the early red flags for ASD and thus lower the age of detection of children at risk for ASD and facilitate earlier referral to intervention. A mixed methods approach was used. Sixty-two providers completed the course on-line with a 94% course completion rate. Built-in learner assessment pass rates ranged from 88-100%. Second-language English speakers took longer to complete the learner assessments, and providers with less access to the internet spent less time in the course. Participants’ perceptions of the acceptability, demand and practicality of the course were overwhelmingly positive with some suggestions made for local conditions. Results supported the feasibility of the course in SA with some supports required pertaining to language and internet access. We propose that this training has the potential to lower the age of detection of ASD in South Africa and other low resource settings.

2. Autism Navigator® for Early Intervention Providers

Problem: The South African service provision landscape for families with young children with ASD varies across sectors but in general is inadequate for young children with ASD. Research suggests that the earlier intervention can begin with young children with red flags for ASD, the better their outcomes. Parents / caregivers are in an optimal position to provide sufficient opportunities for their children to learn and be actively engaged in their natural routines with appropriate support.

Project: It is the purpose of this study to explore the feasibility of the Autism Navigator for Early Intervention Providers in South Africa. This web-based professional development course is designed to train providers to coach parents / caregivers to actively engage their young toddlers in their everyday routines at home. Each provider will complete the web-based training and invite a family with a young child with red flags for ASD to receive the intervention. Supervision will be provided to determine whether this evidence-based service delivery model can be administered with fidelity in the South African context. As this is a feasibility study conducted within an implementation science framework, a set of quantitative and qualitative process measures will be collected throughout the study to investigate various aspects of feasibility of the training course and supervision model, as well as implementation with families in the providers’ specific working contexts.


Project contact:
Nola Chambers