A team of researchers from the UK, India and Pakistan have developed an autism intervention that can be delivered by parents with little or no formal training in mental health. The intervention, Parent-mediated intervention for children with Autism Spectrum disorder in South Asia in India and Pakistan (PASS), helps parents of children with autism interact better with their children.
Researchers from Sangath, Goa, and the Institute of Psychiatry, Rawalpindi, conducted trials with 32 families that had children with autism. The researchers trained the parents to offer therapy to the child, and conducted observations over a period of eight months. At the end of the trial, children whose parents used the PASS method were found to be more likely to initiate a conversation with their parents, when compared to their counterparts from the control group.
Children with autism face challenges in communicating and relating with others. They find it difficult to process languages and are sometimes unable to communicate verbally. As a result of these challenges, communication between parent and child is often reduced to a one-way process, with the parent communicating instructions to the child. PASS helps train parents to change their way of communication to a style that matches their child's abilities and special needs. This enables them to have a two-way conversation with their child.
The success of this study indicates that countries like India and Pakistan, where people have limited access to mental health care, could benefit from alternative interventions delivered by members of the community.?