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Advancing Applied MCH Research

Tele-health delivery of a family-focused intervention to reduce anxiety in youth with autism spectrum disorders in rural Colorado

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Project Number: R40 MC 15593
Grantee: University of Colorado Denver
Department/Center: Psychiatry
Project Date: 9/1/2009

Final Report

Tele-health delivery of a family-focused intervention to reduce anxiety in youth with autism spectrum disorders in rural Colorado Final Report (PDF) Exit Disclaimer

Principal Investigator

Susan Hepburn, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
13121 E 17th Street, C234, Room 5215
Aurora, CO  80045
Phone: (303) 724-7672


  • Middle Childhood (6-11 years)
  • Adolescence (12-18 years)


The goal of this two-year project is to develop and evaluate the use of interactive televideo technology to deliver a promising mental health intervention to families of children with ASD who are geographically removed from specialty medical centers. Over the past six years our team has developed an original, manualized, family-focused, cognitive-behavioral, multi-family group intervention package, designed specifically for families of youth with ASD and significant anxiety, called Face your Fears (FYF; Reaven et al, 2009). Efficacy data are promising, and broader dissemination of the intervention is the next step in program development. Given the obstacles faced by rural families of children with autism as they seek specialized care, and the impact of co-occurring psychiatric conditions on child and family functioning, finding innovative ways to link specialists with families of psychiatrically complex youth with ASD is an important research goal. Specific aims of the proposal are: (1) To refine the policies, procedures, and treatment materials (e.g., Facilitators Manual, Parent Workbook, Youth Workbook) of the Face Your Fears (FYF) intervention package for delivery as a telehealth application (i.e., interactive televideo); (2) To assess the feasibility and acceptability of the telehealth intervention for families of anxious youth with ASD; and (3) to estimate the degree of change and variability of response to the telehealth intervention on youth outcomes (anxiety disorder diagnoses and independent clinician ratings of anxiety severity) and family outcomes (caregiver strain, impact on family, parent mental health, parenting sense of efficacy) using a repeated measures within subjects design.


Listed is descending order by year published.

Hepburn SL, Blakeley-Smith A, Wolff B, Reaven JA. Telehealth delivery of cognitive-behavioral intervention to youth with autism spectrum disorder and anxiety: A pilot study. Autism. 2016 Feb;20(2):207-18.

Blakeley-Smith, A., Reaven, J., Ridge, K. & Hepburn, S. Parent-child agreement of anxiety symptoms in youth with autism spectrum disorders. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. 2012; 6, 707-716.

Lickel, A., MacLean, W.W., Blakeley-Smith, A., & Hepburn, S. Assessment of prerequisite skills for cognitive-behavioral therapy in children with and without autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 2012;42(6):992-1000.

Reaven, J., Blakeley-Smith, A., Culhane-Shelburne, K., & Hepburn, S. Group cognitive behavior therapy for children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders and anxiety: A randomized trial. Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry. 2012; 53(4), 410-419.

Kaiser K. Telehealth: finding ways for families to connect in rural Colorado. Exceptional Parent. April 2011; 18-19.

Reaven, J., Blakeley-Smith, A., Nichols, S., & Hepburn, S. Facing your fears: A family-focused intervention to reduce anxiety in youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders (Facilitator's Manual, Parent Manual, Child Workbook). Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing. 2011.


Autism, Telehealth, Rural, Mental Health & Wellbeing, Parenting, Developmental Disabilities, Special Health Care Needs, Access to Health Care

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