As I’ve indicated here, applied behavioral analysis works to curb tantrums and to promote positive behaviors among kids with autism. The problem is that too many parents either don’t know what it is, don’t know how to do it, or don’t believe it will help.
Yesterday, I got a chuckle after reading a Los Angeles Times blog post which asserts that parent training boosts medication effect for autism. The blogger describes a study, spurred on by the National Institute of Mental Health, which was designed to determine if parent training could help children who were on medication to further help in reducing negative behaviors.
To summarize the study: Parents of medicated kids attended up to 17 sessions of 60-90 minutes which were designed to train them in using visual schedules and positive reinforcement to aid in their kids’ communication skills and promote appropriate behavior. A behavior therapist visited the participating families at home and was available for phone consultation. The totally predictable result of the study was that the parents trained in behavioral intervention reported improved results from when they had been relying on medication alone.
Of course, this isn’t evidence that parent training boosts the effects of medication. It is further evidence that behavior-based therapy is effective with or without drugs.
The good news is that the authors of the study will make the parent training manual available. A summary of the study is available in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adoloscent Psychiatry.