Study shows parent training is more effective than education to successfully address behavioral problems

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By: The RethinkCare Team

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A new JAMA Original Investigation article shared the results of a randomized clinical trial on the effects of Parent Training vs Parent Education on behavioral problems in children with autism spectrum disorder. Behavioral problems exist in as many as 50% of the children who exhibit Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), making treatment programs and any daily living task even more difficult. For a parent, who is usually not educated in Behavior Analysis, it may be difficult to manage your child when these behaviors are present.

A recent study has compared training a parent to educating a parent on how to manage these behavioral problems. The question; Will simply explaining how to intervene produce better results or is it more effective demonstrating how to intervene?

The study was conducted over 24-weeks and used a sample of 180 children with ASD, between the ages 3-7, who were randomly assigned among the two groups. For the group receiving training, parents received eleven 60 to 90-minute individual sessions (with the option of two additional), six parent-child coaching sessions, two in-home visits, and two telephone sessions over 24 weeks.

The second group, being educated, received twelve 60 to 90-minute sessions with one home visit over 24 weeks and a manual including therapist scripts and parent handouts. These sessions did not include any instruction. As metrics, three behavior tools were used to grade the two groups. The first being the Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC). Each group was graded on the Irritability sub- scale where parent training yielded a 47.7% decrease in behavioral problems compared to parent education’s 31.8% decrease.

The second tool was The Home Situations Questionnaire– Autism Spectrum Disorder where parent training saw a 55% decrease in behavior problems while parent education provided a 34.2% decrease.

Finally, the Clinical Global Impressions– Improvement Scale resulted in a 68.5% improvement in behavior problems for participants who underwent training in comparison to parent education’s 39.6% improvement rate.

Although both methods provided positive results, the rate of positive response judged by a blinded clinician was greater for parent training vs parent education.

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