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European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 11, Issue 6, pp 266–272 | Cite as

A pilot randomised control trial of a parent training intervention for pre-school children with autism

Preliminary findings and methodological challenges
  • Auriol Drew
  • Gillian Baird
  • Simon Baron-Cohen
  • Antony Cox
  • Vicky Slonims
  • Sally Wheelwright
  • John Swettenham
  • Bryony Berry
  • Tony Charman
ORIGINAL CONTRIBUTION

Abstract.

Few attempts have been made to conduct randomised control trials (RCTs) of interventions for pre-school children with autism. We report findings of a pilot RCT for a parent training intervention with a focus on the development of joint attention skills and joint action routines. Twenty-four children meeting ICD-10 criteria for childhood autism (mean age = 23 months) were identified using the CHAT screen and randomised to the parent training group or to local services only. A follow-up was conducted 12 months later (mean age = 35 months). There was some evidence that the parent training group made more progress in language development than the local services group. However, the present pilot study was compromised by several factors: a reliance on parental report to measure language, non-matching of the groups on initial IQ, and a lack of systematic checking regarding the implementation of the parent training intervention. Furthermore, three parents in the local services group commenced intensive, home-based behavioural intervention during the course of the study. The difficulties encountered in the conduct of RCTs for pre-school children with autism are discussed. Methodological challenges and strategies for future well-designed RCTs for autism interventions are highlighted.

Key words autism – early intervention – parent training – language – randomised control trial (RCT) 

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Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Auriol Drew
    • 1
  • Gillian Baird
    • 1
  • Simon Baron-Cohen
    • 2
  • Antony Cox
    • 1
  • Vicky Slonims
    • 1
  • Sally Wheelwright
    • 2
  • John Swettenham
    • 3
  • Bryony Berry
    • 4
  • Tony Charman
    • 4
  1. 1.Autism Research Centre, Departments of Experimental Psychology and Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UKGB
  2. 2.Department of Human Communication and Science, University College London, London, UKGB
  3. 3.Health Services Research Department, Institute of Psychiatry, London, UKGB
  4. 4.Behavioural and Brain Sciences Unit, Institute of Child Health, University College London, 30 Guilford Street, London, WC1N 1EH, UK. t.charman@ich.ucl.ac.ukGB

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