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Behavior Training Helps Families Cope with Autism More Than Education

The Short of It

In the largest randomized trial of behavioral intervention for kids with autism, researchers determined behavioral therapy trumps education when it comes to coping with the disorder.

The Lowdown

According to, autism affects 1 in 68 kids. It is the fastest growing developmental disorder in this country, due in large part to a growing awareness.

Now a new Yale and Emory University study published in the "Journal of the American Medical Association" says training parents on how to handle the behavioral issues that come hand-in-hand with raising an autistic child shows much promise.

Over the course of four years, researchers from six universities looked at families of 180 kids between the ages of 3 and 7, who were diagnosed with both autism, also known as ASD, and behavioral issues. For 24 weeks, parents were randomly assigned to either an educational program, focused on facts about the disorder, or a training class that taught behavioral management strategies, such as offering positive reinforcement for good behavior.

During the courses, parents filled out two questionnaires on the level of disruptive behavior and noncompliance they observed from their children, according to Medical Daily. A researcher who didn't know which course the parents were assigned to evaluated the kids as well.

"Both groups showed improvement, but parent training was superior on measures of disruptive and noncompliant behavior," James Dziura, study author and associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Yale, said.

The Upshot

It seems a combination of education and behavioral training offers the best strategy for parents raising kids with autism. It's worth noting that according to research, the earlier parents can gain access to these resources, the better the prognosis for their child.

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