Parent Info

What is Vanderbilt KidTalk?

Vanderbilt KidTalk is a research group affiliated with the Kennedy Center for Developmental Disabilities and the Department of Special Education at Vanderbilt University. Our research is focused on language interventions for young children with disabilities. Many of our studies also include a component of parent training where we teach parents ways they can support their child’s language development. 

The Vanderbilt Kidtalk intervention is based on Enhanced Milieu Teaching (EMT; Kaiser & Roberts, 2013) intervention strategies. EMT has been studied in over 50 research projects and shown to be effective in promoting children’s language development (Kaiser & Trent, 2007).

We have conducted EMT studies with children with a range of disabilities including Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Down syndrome, cleft lip/palate, cerebral palsy, and specific language impairment. EMT strategies are naturalistic and easy to incorporate into a family’s daily routines. We use EMT strategies in play and children’s daily routines such as meal time, putting on shoes, book reading, and personal care.  

Click here to read an article highlighting the use of EMT and iPads in the KidTalk studies.

 Three current KidTalk research projects are investigating a blended intervention approach to social communication that incorporates Joint Attention Symbolic Play Engagement and Regulation (JASPER; Kasari, Freeman, & Paparella, 2006) with EMT (Kaiser & Roberts, 2013). The Vanderbilt KidTalk AIM-ASD project also  is investigating the use of Discrete Trial Teaching (Smith, 2001) in addition to the blended naturalistic teaching approach. 

 Please see the research page for selected research articles and presentations, and for more information about the Vanderbilt KidTalk interventions.

How can my child/family get involved in KidTalk?

Vanderbilt KidTalk is currently recruiting children for three projects. Please see projects page to see if your child might qualify for a current project. You can also follow us on Facebook @ “Vanderbilt KidTalk” to stay up to date on our latest research findings, opportunities to participate in research projects, training opportunities, and upcoming presentations.  


Kaiser, A.P., & Roberts, M.Y. (2013). Parent-implemented enhanced milieu teaching with preschool children with intellectual disabilities. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 56, 295-309.

Kaiser, A.P., & Trent, J. A. (2007). Communication intervention for young children with disabilities: Naturalistic approaches to promoting development. In S. Odom, R. Horner, M. Snell & J. Blacher (Eds.), Handbook of Developmental Disabilities, (pp. 224-246). New York: Guilford Press.

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.

Smith, T. (2001). Discrete Trial Training in the Treatment of Autism. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 16, 86-92.