Communication skills show small but long-lasting improvements, study finds
Training parents to better communicate with their children with autism spectrum disorder may lead to long-lasting improvements in certain symptoms, scientists report online in the Oct. 25 Lancet.
The results are “very encouraging,” because they show long-term benefits for a relatively low-intensity treatment — one that’s delivered by parents, says clinical psychologist Geraldine Dawson, who directs the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development.
The idea behind the approach, called PACT for preschool autism communication trial, is that children with autism can be reached by training their parents to be better conversationalists. From 2006 to 2008, the trial, led by child psychiatrist Jonathan Green of the University of Manchester in England, enrolled parents and children, ages 2 to 4, with autism. For six months, parents went to 12 therapy sessions, in which they were