Saturday, May 6, 2017

Parent perceptions may contribute to placebo problem in autism

Parents of children with autism report substantial improvement in their children’s behaviors when they participate in a study, even when the children are not receiving a treatment, a new study suggests1. By contrast, clinician ratings of the children’s autism features do not vary.

“We don’t know if the kids changed a little or if the parents just thought they changed,” says lead investigator Catherine Lord, director of the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City.
In either case, the findings suggest that just participating in research can influence parent responses. These gradual shifts in parents’ perception of their children’s difficulties may contribute to the large placebo effect seen in autism trials.