Parent-led intervention may reduce kids’ autistic symptoms

London, Oct 26 (IANS) A parent-led early intervention programme for autism that helps improve parents’ interaction with their children has showed significant reduction in the severity of the disorder symptoms in the kids as they aged, a study has found.

Autism is a serious developmental disorder that impairs the ability to communicate and interact.

Parents who took part in the pre-school autism communication trial (PACT) were able to enhance their awareness and response to their child’s unusual patterns of communication through watching videos of themselves interacting with their child and receiving feedback from therapists.

The programme also enables them to better understand their child and communicate back appropriately in a focused way, observed researchers from University of Manchester in Britain.

Children who had received PACT — the intervention programme which included planned communication and play activities with the child — between the age two and four showed less severe overall symptoms six years later.

They also showed improvement in social communication and repetitive behaviours, although no changes were seen in other areas such as language or anxiety.

The findings represent an improvement in the core symptoms of autism previously thought very resistant to change.

“This type of early intervention is distinctive in being designed to work with parents to help improve parent-child communication at home,” said lead author Jonathan Green, Professor at the University of Manchester.

However, “this is not a cure, in the sense that the children who demonstrated improvements will still show remaining symptoms to a variable extent, but it does suggests that working with parents to interact with their children in this way can lead to improvements in symptoms over the long-term,” Green said.

The study, however, found no evidence of any effect on the mental health of autistic children, such as anxiety or challenging behaviours, the researchers concluded, in the paper appearing in journal The Lancet.