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A new study finds that when parents of autistic children partake in a support and training program, they're better equipped to handle the communication barriers and behavioral problems experienced with their autistic sons and daughters, and the kids themselves have been shown to respond better to their parents as a result, as CBS news reports.
This is big news for families with autistic children, who often struggle to communicate their needs, which can result in frequent and angry outbursts by the youth.
The study was published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It finds that kids with autism showed behavioral improvement after their parents took a 24-week structured training program created to help manage disruptive and aggressive behavior. Six months after the intervention, the training was still working.
"Children with autism often display problem behavior that can be very challenging for families," Kara Reagon, PhD, associate director of dissemination science at Autism Speaks, told CBS News. "All behavior serves a person. Sometimes children with autism have behavioral problems because they don't have the communication skills to say what they want."
Researchers say that about half of children with autism demonstrate some type of behavioral problems that can be disruptive to the entire family, including non-autistic siblings. Equipping parents with more effective tools for dealing with such episodes isn't just good for an autistic child, but the family as a whole. As reported by CBS News, 1 in 68 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with autism, making family intervention more important than ever.
To date, this is the largest randomized trial of any behavioral intervention ever conducted on children with autism. It involved 180 children ages 3 to 7 years old.