Friday, August 11, 2017

CBT Improves Functioning in Parents of Children With ASD

Parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can benefit from involvement in their children’s cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), according to a pilot study posted online August 1 in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

“Treatment effects occurred across all parents in depression, emotional regulation, perceptions of their children, and mindful parenting,” wrote Andrea L. Maughan and Jonathan A. Weiss, Ph.D., of York University in Toronto.

Investigators examined changes in the parents’ mental health, parenting skills, and expressed emotion following participation with their children in a randomized, controlled trial of 10 sessions of a CBT program developed to improve emotional regulation in children with ASD. CBT has emerged as an effective treatment for anxiety disorders in children with ASD who do not have an intellectual disability, the researchers noted.

Participants included 57 children with ASD and one parent of each child. Of the 57 parents, 80.7% were mothers of children with ASD (91.2% males). The children’s IQ scores ranged from 79 to 140. About 70% of parents had undergraduate university degrees. More than 90% of the children met criteria for at least one mental health problem on the Anxiety Disorders Interview Schedule for DSM-IV. Parent psychopathology and stress were measured using the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale. Child psychopathology and improvement were measured by the Clinical Global Impression Scale–Severity and Improvement.

Of the parents who had depression, their symptoms from pre- to post-intervention were significantly reduced, and overall the parents’ emotional regulation improved. 

“It may be that helping children to practice the emotion regulation strategies from the CBT program also resulted in parents learning strategies that are relevant to their own coping approach,” the researchers noted. 

(Image: istock/Choreograph)


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