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Parent Training Can Improve Behavior Problems in Children with Autism

Parent Training Can Improve Behavior Problems in Children with Autism

Photo: A happy family 

The serious behavior problems that can occur in children with autism and related conditions can be reduced with a treatment plan that includes medication combined with a structured training program for parents.

The study was conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Research Units on Pediatric Psychopharmacology (RUPP) Autism Network. The 24-week, three-site trial was conducted at Yale, Ohio State University and Indiana University. Lawrence Scahill, professor at Yale School of Nursing and the Yale Child Study Center, is principal investigator at the Yale site.

Results from a 2002 RUPP report showed that the antipsychotic medication risperidone (Risperdal) reduced such behavioral problems as tantrums, aggression and self-injury in children with autism. However, most children's symptoms returned when the medication was discontinued after six months of effective treatment. Also, risperidone is associated with adverse effects such as weight gain, which can lead to obesity and related health problems.

In this new study, the RUPP group tested the benefits of medication alone compared to medication plus a parent training program that actively involves parents in managing their children's severely disruptive and noncompliant behaviors. In a series of 14 sessions over six months, parents were taught to reduce their children's challenging behavior and to enhance daily living skills.

The study included 124 children ages 4 to 13 with pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) such as autism, Asperger's or related disorders accompanied by tantrums, aggression and self-injury. The children were randomly given a combination of risperidone and parent training, or risperidone only.

Although both groups improved over the six-month trial, the group receiving combination therapy showed greater reduction in disruptive behavior, tantrums and aggression compared to the group receiving medication only. The combination therapy group also ended the trial taking a 14 percent lower dose of risperidone than the medication-only group.

The RUPP group is expecting to launch a multi-site parent training study in preschool-age children with pervasive developmental disorders. "We hope to show that these behavioral problems can be reduced in children without medication – if intervention starts early," Scahill said. "Future studies may also look for ways in which the parent training program can be used in schools and community clinics."

REHACARE.de; Source: Yale University

- More about the Yale University at www.yale.edu

 
 

( Source: REHACARE.de )

 
 

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