Joint Attention, Symbolic Play, Engagement & Regulation (JASPER) Treatment and Approach

The Joint Attention, Symbolic Play, Engagement & Regulation (JASPER) approach was developed at the center for Autism Research and Treatment by Dr. Connie Kasari. It is a treatment approach based on the integration of developmental and behavioral principles. The model uses naturalistic strategies to target the foundations of social-communication in terms of joint attention, imitation and play. Primary implementers of the intervention include parents and teachers whose ultimate goal is to promote generalization across environments and activities and maintain progress over time.

The Joint Attention, Symbolic Play, Engagement & Regulation (JASPER) approach identifies and treats core deficit areas for children with autism. These core deficit areas consist of joint attention, symbolic play, engagement and regulation and are considered the four main targets of the JASPER treatment. Basic JASPER strategies are integrated into naturalistic symbolic play sessions with a balance of structure and flexibility to improve these target areas. Strategies include; modeling, promoting hierarchies, imitating and expanding joint attention, language and play acts as well as pacing language to match the child’s language and adjusting play based on the interests of the child.  

Joint Attention, Symbolic Play, Engagement & Regulation (JASPER)strategies have been tested with children ages 12 months to 8 years old and have been shown to work well with other behavioral based interventions. Once initial assessments are completed an intervention plan is put into place and adults are trained twice per week for a series of sessions to learn the treatment strategies. The JASPER approach can be incorporated naturally into settings such as special education classrooms, inclusion and the child’s home.

Core values include:

  • Modeling and teaching joint attention skills directly
  • Increase the ability to coordinate attention
  • Increasing diversity and flexibility in play skills
  • Increase functional play and reach higher levels of symbolic play
  • Improve children’s state of engagement
  • Increasing engagement to increase opportunities for learning and social communication
  • Increase emotional and behavioral regulation
  • Decrease self-stimulatory behaviors

More Information about JASPER