Friday, March 2, 2018

Parent training boosts language in nonverbal children with autism

Children with autism who speak few or no words improve in their verbal abilities after their parents learn to engage them in conversation during play, according to a pilot study1.

The parents learn strategies such as following their child’s focus and engaging the child with words and toys. These strategies are part of an established behavioral therapy for autism called JASPER, which is known to improve social skills and communication when implemented by trained therapists.

The new work is part of an ongoing trend of coaching parents to provide autism therapies. This approach has the advantage of incorporating the treatments into the child’s daily life. Few studies have explored the effectiveness of this approach, however. The new study’s findings begin to fill that gap.

“Parents really took to the intervention,” says lead investigator Connie Kasari, professor of human development and psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles. “They really could master the strategies to the same extent as therapists.”

The findings also show that parents do not need to use these strategies perfectly: Those who implement at least 75 percent of the techniques see improvements in their children

Read more here at Spectrum.