Childhood autism 'improved' by parent training

A new study focussing on autism suggests that early 'parent training' of parents who have children with this condition, may permanently improve the quality of life of their offspring. (1)

Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) is a lifelong condition affecting interaction, communication and behaviour. The severity of symptoms varies, but social isolation is common and one third of adults experience severe mental health issues.

Some facts about autism

Autism is a 'neurodevelopmental disorder' which means people with this condition experience problems with their brain's 'wiring' or how that wiring has been 'laid down'. The cause is unknown, but premature birth and exposure to some anti- epileptic medications are linked.

Some childhood syndromes, such as Down's syndrome, are also implicated. Vaccines are not. Around one in 100 people in the UK have ASD and it affects more boys than girls. Diagnosis of autism is made by a medical professional on strict criteria including on issues of communication, social interaction and behaviours.

ASD is distinct from learning disabilities, although someone may have both. Autistic 'traits' such as 'a good memory' are not diagnostic, but are reflective of individuality.

Intelligence of those affected by autism varies but may exceed a normal range. People are often bullied at school and require support in adult life. Around 50% have a learning disability, with some unable to work. The fiscal cost to the UK is over 30 billion pounds yearly. Autism is a common issue that could benefit from better understanding and help.

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