Study shows ‘super-parenting’ can improve autism in children

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  • A study has shown that particular parenting methods could dramatically improve symptoms for a child with autism.

    Experts have created a new way for parents of an autistic child to improve communication and potentially improve their child’s symptoms.

    These results come after a study, led by the University of Manchester, King’s College London and Newcastle University, was carried out on 152 families with a child between two and four that had just been diagnosed with autism. Autism is a condition in which commination and social skills are hindered, making development into adulthood very difficult for the individual.

    Some of the children taking part in the study suffered from such complex social skill difficulties that they found it hard to speak to their parents.

    Half of the families in the study stuck to usual remedies used to help the symptoms of autism, within this half, 50% of the children were considered severely autistic. As their progress was recorded it has been predicted that this 50% would rise to 63% within six years.

    However, the other half of the families were given special training to up-skill their parenting to a ‘super-parenting’ level. This included working with specialists to pick up on opportunities to better communicate with their children that would otherwise be easily missed.

    Each set of parents played and spoke to their child while being filmed and afterwards would watch back the tape with an expert to spot moments of communication that were being missed.

    Not giving children with autism enough time to express themselves or questioning them continuously, which induces feelings of pressure, were some of the main patterns that parents were told to break.

    Out of this half of families, 55% of the half were considered severely autistic at the beginning and by the end of six years this had reduced to 46%.

    Currently there is no known treatment or cure for autism, but this is the best treatment to improve symptoms yet.

    Professor Jonathan Green, of the University of Manchester and Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, who led the study, told the Mirror, ‘This type of early intervention is distinctive in being designed to work with parents to help improve parent-child communication at home.

    ‘The advantage of this approach over a direct therapist-child intervention is that it has potential to affect the everyday life of the child. Our findings are encouraging, as they represent an improvement in the core symptoms of autism previously thought very resistant to change.’

    ‘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.’