Individually-taught, parent-implemented social intervention may improve autism outcomes

1. Teaching parents an autism spectrum disorder social intervention in the home, rather than in a clinic group led to significantly better scores in social communication, daily living, social skills, and receptive language skills for their child.

 Evidence Rating Level: 1 (Excellent)  

Study Rundown: Research has shown that early education intervention for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has the potential to improve overall outcomes if implemented by clinicians as opposed to parent-implemented interventions. The current study explored this further through evaluation of a parent-implemented tool taught in individual or group settings. Researchers compared social communication, autism symptoms, adaptive behavior, and developmental level of children with ASD between teaching methods. Researchers found that children whose parents were taught in an individualized, home setting had significantly improved social communication, daily living, social skills, and receptive language skills over those who were taught intervention strategies in a clinic group setting. This study may be limited as no follow-up was available beyond the 9-month intervention and both groups received treatments which did not allow researchers to compare data with simple maturation. However, results advocate for implementation of new methods of parent-implemented ASD intervention into the home.

Click to read the study, published today in Pediatrics

Relevant Reading: Special education: Children with autism.

In-Depth [randomized controlled trial study]: A total of 82 toddlers who received an ASD diagnosis between 16 and 20 months of age were included in this study along with their parents. Participants were recruited by referral at Florida State University and the University of Michigan, and families were randomized to receive the intervention teaching in either an individual (home) or group (clinic) setting. The manualized Social Communication, Emotional Regulation, and Transactional Supports curriculum, an educational tool used to address the challenges faced by people with ASD, was used in evaluation of both intervention teaching types. Interventionists taught parents in their randomized settings and encouraged them to implement the intervention for ≥ 25 hours each week with the participating toddler. Child social communication (CSBSa), autism symptoms (ADOSb), adaptive behavior (VABS-IIc), and developmental level (MSELd) were evaluated at the beginning of the study period and again after 9 months of intervention using the assessment tools listed. The individual intervention groups improved significantly in measures of social communication (p = .04), parent report of communication (p = .004)/daily living (p = .02)/social skills (p = .04), and improvement in receptive language skills (p = .008) when compared to the group teaching intervention.

aCSBS-Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales
bADOS- Autism Diagnostic Behavior Schedule
cVABS-II- Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, Second Edition
dMSEL- Mullen Scales of Early Learning

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Image: PD

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