Parent training may lead to lasting gains in autism features
Teaching parents of toddlers with autism how to recognize and respond to their children may result in stable improvements in these children’s social communication and other autism features.
The researchers measured autism severity using the Calibrated Severity Score, a test that controls for a child’s age and language ability. This test was not available when they analyzed the data for their 2010 study.
When the researchers reanalyzed their initial data using the test, they found that the children in the treatment group showed a decrease in their autism severity: They showed greater improvements in social communication and a bigger decrease in repetitive behaviors than those in the control group.
These children maintained their advantage six years later, with 46 percent of them showing severe autism features compared with 63 percent of children in the control group.
Spence says the changes are likely to be clinically meaningful. But she says the treatment does not appear to work for everyone. “A couple of the kids got worse,” she says.