Researchers have published a study which demonstrates the long-lasting effects brought in the autism therapy by a constant parent interaction with the child.
The study, which was carried out by a team of British researchers from the University of Manchester, Newcastle University, and King’s College London and which has spanned for over six years, was presented Tuesday as part of the Lancet Medical Journal.
It marks the first long-term study that has come to completion and which goes to objectively show that a constant parent interaction may go a long way in treating children diagnosed with autism.
As autism has become increasingly more common, with a U.S. government 2015 survey stating that over 2 percent of every child aged 3 or more is affected by the deficit, there is still much to be found out about it.
The cause of autism has not been determined, though genetics and the environment are considered important determining factors, the spectrum disorder has a large span of conditions. From the milder forms of Asperger’s, to profound deficits and inability to communicate, no cure has been found for any of these types.
As such, therapy has been slowly but surely been proven to be the most effective weapon in the battle with the deficit.
The current survey set out to establish both the effectiveness of such therapy sessions and also determine the parent level of implication.
The study was called the PACT (Preschool Autism Communication Trial) and featured children diagnosed with variants of the deficit aged from 2 to 4 years old.
Researchers devised a treatment, the home approach, that implied that the parents of the respective children were specifically trained so as to watch and respond to the children’s cues.
The parents received six months of therapy totaling a number of 12 sessions, and further support sessions for the following six months period. They were also asked to spend more than 20 to 30 minutes every day trying to communicate and play with the children.
As the parents were trained to better understand the verbal and non-verbal cues and so how to better communicate, the results were soon to follow.
The children whose parents received the treatment were seen to exhibit less repetitive behaviors and were able to communicate better. The effects have also lasted throughout the years as the children have now reached the middle childhood period (ages 7 to 11).
As the constant parent interaction has been shown to present even more advantages than a therapist-child variant, researchers are confident that it will lead to more discoveries, and to more studies.
Although this is not a cure, it has been shown to lead to long-term improvements and has been considered a step forward in both the understanding and in treating autism.
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