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Parents as cotherapists in the treatment of psychotic children

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A treatment program for psychotic and autistic children in which parents are helped to function as primary developmental agents is described and evaluated. Research and clinical experience is reviewed suggesting that parents react to their child's developmental disorder, rather than cause the disability. Demonstrations to parents observing through a one-way screen have been focused on corrective approaches to relatedness, competence motivation, cognitive, and perceptual motor functions. Parental participation has also included program sessions and research activities at home. The latter corroborated clinical observations that autistic children responded best to high external structures for acquiring new patterns and to relative freedom to practice those which have been mastered. Initial outcome trends are presented, indicating that parents have been developing effective skills as cotherapists. Objective recognition of their children's disabilities has helped to improve family equilibrium. Substantial improvements in participating children have been noted. Optimal or normal levels of development are prognosticated, depending on IQ, consistency of appropriate education and degree of impairment.

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Supported in part by the National Institute of Mental Health Grant MH-15539-02.

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Schopler, E., Reichler, R.J. Parents as cotherapists in the treatment of psychotic children. J Autism Dev Disord 1, 87–102 (1971).

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