Background: Children have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at increasing rates in recent years. Children with ASD have difficulty in communication and social interaction and frequently present challenging behaviors. Early intervention is critical in developing behavioral and social skills for children with ASD. Many ASD interventions involve training parents in specific skills; however, the effectiveness of parent-implemented early intervention has not been systematically reviewed.
Objectives: To systematically review evidence of the effectiveness of parent-implemented intervention for children with ASD.
Search strategy: Electronic searches (e.g., ERIC, The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycInfo, CINAHL, Dissertation Abstracts International, Social Sciences Abstracts, Sociological Abstracts, Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts, National Research Register, LILACS.) were conducted using the combination of four groups of key words related to children, parents, parent training, and ASD. Other searches included reference checks for related articles, expert contact, and hand searches.
Selection criteria: The authors selected published and unpublished studies that involved parents (or care givers) as the implementers of the interventions for children (ages 1-12 years) diagnosed with ASD, autism, Asperger syndrome, PDD, or PDD not otherwise specified. Included studies used either a control group or a comparison group. Single subject research was excluded. No language and time limit restriction were applied.
Data collection and analysis: The authors extracted data and evaluated the methodological quality of each study. The authors report calculated standardized mean differences, 95% confidence intervals and P-value.
Results: Twelve studies met the inclusion criteria for the review, including 7 randomized controlled trials and 5 controlled group studies. The authors report outcomes for children, parents, and the interaction between parents and children. The review indicates that parent training has a positive effect on children’s social communication skills and behaviors, parental performance, and parent—child interactions.
Conclusions: Parent-implemented intervention has positive effects on behavioral changes in children with ASD. However, more research is needed with large sample sizes, a long-term follow-up assessment, and a full economic evaluation.