Study provides evidence of the effectiveness of the Parent-Child Interaction Therapy for children with Autism.

A review of: Solomon, M., Ono, M., Timmer, S., Goodlin-Jones, B. (2008). The Effectiveness of Parent–Child Interaction Therapy for Families of Children on the Autism Spectrum. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders DOI: 10.1007/s10803-008-0567-5

The authors of this ‘in press’ manuscript reported the results of a study examining the effectiveness of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy for children with autism. This intervention was first proposed by Eyberg et al in 1995 and consists of a manualized parent coaching intervention for children age 2 to 7. This intervention was not initially developed for children with autism and instead was focused on helping parents with children with behavioral disorders. The intervention consists of live coaching sessions, during which parents interact with their children inside a room with a one way mirror. Behind the mirror a parenting coach provides live feedback via a microphone that is linked to earphones provided to the parents. The goal of the sessions is to help parents provide immediate reinforcement of positive behaviors while ignoring (extinguishing) dysfunctional behaviors. This study used a waiting-list control group design. That is, families were randomly assigned to one of two groups: a treatment group receiving the intervention, or a control (waiting-list) group which would receive the intervention later. The study included 19 children with an ASD diagnosis obtained via ADI-R. Ten children were assigned to the treatment group (6 AS,6 HFA)and nine were assigned to the waiting list group (2 AS, 4 HFA, 2 PDD). The treatment lasted 12 sessions. After the intervention the children in the treatment group showed a statistically significant reduction of problem behaviors as reported by parents when compared to the control group. There was also a statistically significantly reduction of ‘atypicality’ and an increase in adaptability. Marginal significant differences were also observed in hyperactivity. Although these results are all based on parental reports, which is a methodological problem, the authors also found differences in affect display as coded from video tapes of the sessions. Specifically, the authors found an increase in positive affect by the parents and an increase in how many times child positive affect followed the parents’ positive affect. In sum, this study provides early but compelling evidence of the effectiveness of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy for children with Autism who experience behavioral problems.

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3 Responses to Autism Treatments: Parent-Child Interaction Therapy.

  1. Nestor by ASD diagnosis are you referring to Autistic Disorder diagnosis or any of the PDD diagnoses – Autistic Disorder, PDD-NOS, Aspergers, Rett Syndrome and Child Disintegrative Disorder?

  2. Hi H. In most cases when I mention ASDs I’m including AS, Autism, and PDD-NOS. In this study the authors did not provide a breakdown of the diagnoses (amazing!). They only indicated that the children met criteria for Autism, AS, or PDD-NOS. I’m surprised that the breakdown was omitted. Cheers, Nestor.

  3. oops. I take it back. I just found the breakdown as a footnote to one of the tables.
    from my corrected post:
    “Ten children were assigned to the treatment group (6 AS, 6 HFA)and nine were assigned to the waiting list group (2 AS, 4 HFA, 2 PDD).”

    Thanks. Nestor.

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