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Utah: BYU shows that parents can trained to do autism therapy

Oct 13, 2022, Deseret News: This BYU study shows how parents can help their kids who have autism

Parents of children with autism spectrum disorder are around their children enough to recognize, report and respond to behavioral issues, new research says, which can lead to treatment that increases the child’s quality of life.

A recent study from BYU found that when parents of children with autism were trained by professionals to intervene at home — what BYU refers to as “parent-implemented interventions” — those children developed better language and behavioral skills that gave them a chance at a brighter future.

It also saves money. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the medical expense annually for a child with autism spectrum disorder averages $4,110 to $6,200 more than for a child without. That’s before you factor in intensive behavioral interventions, a form of one-on-one instruction that can range from 20-40 hours a week depending on the child….

With about 90 minutes of intervention training across roughly 13 sessions per trial, parents of children with autism spectrum disorder were trained to foster better behavior, communication,

social interaction and daily living skills in their child. Parents interacted with children through a variety of methods, including didactic instruction, role play and direct coaching while the researchers tracked the child’s behavior.

Almost across the board, the study found that children with autism spectrum disorder benefit greatly from parental interventions implemented early in a child’s life. Timothy Smith, a professor of the Department of Counseling Psychology and Special Education, who was part of the BYU research team, said that regardless of the child’s background, family composition or the severity of their diagnosis, familial interventions had a resounding impact on a child’s behavior and communication skills across nearly all of the trials. The results were neutral for just 17%.

Daniele Brown works with her son, Daniel Brown, who is autistic, at their home in Highland, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. The Brown family participated in a Brigham Young University autism study to help parents better their autistic children.

Nate Edwards, BYU


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