receive a diagnosis. What we can absolutely expect or hope is that these reductions in disability will translate to real-life, real-world, longer-term outcomes in terms of what they can achieve in their education, in their employment and in their everyday lives,” Whitehouse shares.
However, this isn’t in any way a cure for autism, nor is that an aim they believe in.
“The purpose of the therapy is to help the parents observe, reflect and change the way in which they interact with their child,” Whitehouse says.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can include impairments in social interaction and communication and repetitive behaviors, according to the study. In the United States, about 1 in every 54 kids has autism, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Children are often born with small differences in the way they process the world, but those small differences can create larger disabilities later, Whitehouse explains.
“Parent-child interactions are in no way a cause of autism. Absolutely not,” Whitehouse adds. “What we’re saying is that parents are the most prominent and important people in their children’s lives and they can play such a powerful role in helping support their development.”
Researchers plan to follow these children up to age 6 or 7 to get greater confirmation of the findings, published Sept. 20 in JAMA Pediatrics.
The study is exciting for several reasons, Dr. Victoria Chen, a developmental behavioral pediatrician at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York says.
“It is impressive that this low-intensity intervention showed a decrease in the number of children with clinical diagnosis of ASD at age 3 years old in the intervention group versus the control group, though the impact on multiple developmental and parental outcomes were not as significant,” Chen says. “It is also impressive that these differences in symptoms of ASD were sustained over the two-year study period.”
Although parent-child interaction therapy isn’t a total cure for autism, it has been used for many disorders such as ADHD and anxiety. It has been proven to be effective for parents in helping them find parenting techniques that work best for their child.