CHICAGO, June 2 (UPI) -- Autistic children whose parents received special training showed significant improvement in verbal and social functioning, U.S. researchers said.
Researchers at Chicago Children's Clinic said the parents in the study received 25 hours of training in Pivotal Response Treatment, an evidence-based behavioral treatment for autism spectrum disorders pioneered more than 30 years ago at the Koegel Autism Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
"This study confirms what we have been seeing at our clinic since we began providing Pivotal Response Treatment in 2007," Dr. Robert Daniels, executive director of the Chicago Children's Clinic, said in a statement. "Parents can be trained to be the best clinicians for their children."
The study tracked three sets of parents who have one child with a confirmed diagnosis of autism. The children included two boys, ages 4 and 7, and a girl, age 3. Following the training, the children's progress was recorded via videotape. In addition, two families received up to 10 hours per week of additional clinical support.
Currently, research shows children with autism must receive therapy from a trained clinician for 25 hours each week over several years to demonstrate notable progress.
This study verifies dramatic gains can be achieved via trained parents utilizing everyday experiences to teach language and social skills.
The findings were presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research in Philadelphia.