Bridging the Research to Practice Gap: A Case Study Approach to Understanding EIBI Supports and Barriers in Swedish Preschools

Roll-Pettersson, L., Olsson, I., & Ala'i-Rosales, S.
International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education 9(2), 317-336.


This study closely examines two preschools characterised by "high quality" to identify what helps or hinders implementation of an intervention for children with autism. The intervention is called Early and Intensive Behavioural Intervention (EIBI).


The authors gathered the findings of the study in a theoretical model with five interrelated factors that may serve as barriers or facilitators for implementing the EIBI intervention:

  1. Entry knowledge and competence. In order for the intervention to be implemented successfully, it is necessary that the people in the child's closest environment, such as the home and the preschool, have the necessary knowledge and skills. According to the authors, lack of knowledge and skills will have a limited and sometimes a detrimental effect on the implementation.
  2. Development and competence through supervision. The expert transfers knowledge and skills to the novice through supervision tailored to the context and the child.
  3. Preschool administrator: leadership. The third factor entails that the leadership supports the intervention, which helps create a good learning environment among staff.
  4. Distal influence. This factor comprises the resources and community of practice of the staff which affect the physical learning environment into which the intervention is implemented, and thereby the effect, quality and sustainability of the intervention. Distal influence is about cooperation with other municipalities or institutions implementing similar interventions, and about staff's opportunity to belong to a community of practice that allows them to discuss concerns and share experiences with one another.
  5. Inter-organisational tensions, values and bridges The last and fifth factor is the relationship with external stakeholders: building bridges between various stakeholders, for example between the institution and parents or between healthcare and municipality to inform the latter about the content of the intervention. This creates transparency and trustful relationships between stakeholders.


The study is based on two different preschools and on two 5-year-old children with autism. Data was collected over a 12-month period, and the following data collection methods were applied: participant observations involving several visits to the two preschools; interviews with staff; and finally participation and assistance in connection with regular activities such as meals, circle time and learning activities involving children with autism. In addition, direct observations were carried out to obtain a better picture of contextual and cultural conditions affecting implementation of the intervention. Finally, focus-group interviews were carried out as well as individual semi-structured interviews with key informants such as parents, special educators and other staff (paraprofessionals, habilitation specialists).


Roll-Pettersson, L., Olsson, I., & Ala'i-Rosales, S. (2016). Bridging the Research to Practice Gap: A Case Study Approach to Understanding EIBI Supports and Barriers in Swedish Preschools. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education 9(2), 317-336.

Financed by

Sunnerdahl’s Handicap Foundation and the Centre for Competence in Treatment and Care (CKVO) at Stockholm University.