When I saw one of the latest reports about parent interactions alleviating symptoms of autism in very young children, my first reaction was “Duh!”. My second reaction was a bit more professional. I am always excited for good research that translates to practical intervention that in turn achieves positive outcomes!
Parent training has been one of my favorite things for many, many years now! I used to run More Than Words training programs for families and have always loved the parent training components of Pivotal Response Treatment. What is unique about this research is that parents received 12 individualized training sessions of a “social communication intervention” that included “video feedback” for the parents over a five month period. The children were between 9 and 14 months of age. Twelve individualized sessions over five months! Now that is what I call translational research! Twelve sessions is a totally reasonable amount of support and it made a critical, long term difference in the children who received the intervention. For the children who received the social communication intervention, there was a reduction in the overall severity of autism symptoms and enhanced parent-child social communication (Green J. et al. J. Child Psychol. Psychiatry Epub ahead of print, 2017).
I am so excited to see this research replicated and to learn more about the specifics of the social communication and video feedback used in this particular study. In the meantime, I will continue to teach my students the critical importance of including caregivers in appropriate interventions. Intensive early intervention is key and teaching caregivers to be more intentional in their interactions naturally increases the hours of intervention a child receives.