Training parents of children with autism spectrum disorder virtually about early behavioral intervention is an accessible and effective approach when in-person instruction isn’t possible, researchers report.

The new study in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Analysis broadens the treatment options for parents of children with autism.

“Since parents play an important role in the treatment of their children’s autism symptoms, developing effective, efficient, socially acceptable, and accessible training so they can implement these interventions is critically important,” says Wayne Fisher, director of the Center for Autism Research, Education and Services at the Rutgers Brain Health Institute.

“However, many parents do not have access to this complex training due to geographic, economic, and time barriers—or more recently the pandemic, which has made in-person training difficult.”

Parents are trained on the intervention, which aims to reduce problem behavior, such as aggression, and to increase adaptive behavior, such as communication and social skills, through a combination of e-learning and play-based training approaches.

For the study, Fisher and his colleagues recruited 25 adults who had a child diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder and had no experience in ABA intervention and assigned 13 to the treatment group and 12 to a control group that did not receive the virtual training but continued with other behavioral programs they currently used.

“The findings show that parents can be virtually trained in these complex procedures and that the methods are ones that they find easy to use,” Fisher says.

Read the full article about telehealth training for parents of kids with autism by Patti Verbanas at Futurity.