Family

'Super parenting' can help autistic children

A study from the UK reveals encouraging news for parents.

Giving parents the skills they need to become “super parents” could be the key to managing autism, a study has shown.

Trained therapists taught parents how to deal with their child and help them communicate with the world around them, in a study that showed a huge pay off for parents.

The results of the study, that focused on children with severe autism, were published in medical journal The Lancet.

Dr Catherine Aldred, a speech and language therapist at Stockport NHs Trust, stressed that children with autism need “something exceptional” to help them communicate – which is no mean feat for parents to achieve.

By recording interactions between parents and their children, therapists were able to pinpoint moments when they had an opportunity to play with them or interact, that could easily have been missed in real time.

The trial started with 152 families shortly after they were diagnosed at the age of three. And while symptoms often worsen with age, in the families who were given intensive training, those still considered severely autistic six years later had dropped by almost 10%.

Professor Jonathan Green, who led the report, said these findings have massive implications for the future management of autism.

"It suggests that what the parents have been able to embed into the family has sustained even after the end of the therapy which is really encouraging."

Spot the signs
Autism Spectrum Australia state that while there is no one sign that your child could have autism spectrum disorder, an accumulation of these symptoms, which range from the way they interact and communicate socially to what their general behaviour is like, could indicate that they do:

  • They don’t return a smile
  • They aren’t interested in other kids
  • They look away from you when you try speaking to them
  • They may repeat themselves and lose words that they have used in the past
  • The struggle to mimic motor movements, like clapping their hands
  • They become distressed at everyday sounds
  • They use unusual motoring movements, like flapping their hands or spinning
  • They develop an attachment to unusual things
  • They find it difficult to cope with change