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Michal Harty

Name: Michal Harty

Qualification: PhD

Position: Senior Lecturer, Communication Sciences and Disorders





Title: The applicability of Enhanced Milieu Teaching to improve spontaneous communication of children with ASD in South Africa


Problem: Naturalistic interventions for children with developmental disabilities are effective in well-resourced countries (like the US). However, by 2050 just under half of the world’s children will live in Africa. Therefore, we need interventions which are effective in resource-constrained countries. Enhanced Milieu Teaching (EMT) has been used in over 50 research studies to help many children with developmental disabilities, like ASD, learn new language.  Trained adults use play and everyday routines to teach children new words, and how to use them correctly.  We think that, with a few adaptations, EMT may be effective in a developing country context, like South Africa.


Project: Together with EMT developer Dr Ann Kaiser and her team at KidTalk, Vanderbilt University, this project will determine how we need to adapt EMT so it is appropriate to use in South Africa. In 2016 the first three South African children with ASD received EMT intervention. After 10 hours of therapy, all children showed improvements in the number of different words they used correctly in play activities. The next step of the project is to ask parents and speech-language therapists, what adaptations they think we need to make, so they are comfortable using the intervention with children with developmental disabilities.