Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 43, Issue 4, pp 829-840

First online:

A Pilot Study of Parent Training in Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Disruptive Behavior

  • Karen BearssAffiliated withMarcus Autism Center, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Department of Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine Email author 
  • , Cynthia JohnsonAffiliated withDepartment of Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
  • , Benjamin HandenAffiliated withWestern Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
  • , Tristram SmithAffiliated withDepartment of Pediatrics, University of Rochester Medical Center
  • , Lawrence ScahillAffiliated withYale University

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Guidance on effective interventions for disruptive behavior in young children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) is limited. We present feasibility and initial efficacy data on a structured parent training program for 16 children (ages 3–6) with ASD and disruptive behavior. The 6-month intervention included 11 Core and up to 2 Optional sessions. The program was acceptable to parents as evidenced by an attendance rate of 84 % for Core sessions. Fourteen of 16 families completed the treatment. An independent clinician rated 14 of 16 subjects as much improved or very much improved at Week 24. Using last observation carried forward, the parent-rated Aberrant Behavior Checklist-Irritability subscale decreased 54 % from 16.00 (SD = 9.21) to 7.38 (SD = 6.15).


Autism Parent training Disruptive behavior Adaptive skills