Theoretical justification and evaluation of the application of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) to families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Vess, Sarah Floyd
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Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is an efficacious intervention that combines the behavioral approach to intervention with a relationship-based, naturalistic approach to decrease problem child behavior and improve family functioning in disruptive behavior disorder populations. A recently published study conducted by Solomon, Ono, Timmer and Goodlin-Jones (2008) found that the utilization of PCIT with families of school-age children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) produced beneficial results. To the author's knowledge, the present study is the first to evaluate the efficacy of PCIT as an intervention for families of pre-school age children with ASDs. A multiple probe single subject design was used to evaluate PCIT with four families with children with ASDs between the ages of 2 and 4 years old. Families participated in weekly PCIT sessions over a four-month period. Results demonstrated that PCIT was effective in increasing positive parenting behavior, decreasing negative parenting behavior, and increasing child compliance to parental commands. Parents reported greater confidence in their parenting abilities post-treatment, but did not report significantly reduced stress. Significant improvement in core areas of autism symptomatology, including social approach behaviors and receptive-expressive language communication abilities, was reported by parents post-treatment. Further, parents endorsed significant improvement in aspects of the parent-child relationship, such as attachment and involvement. Results provide support for continued investigation of the efficacy of PCIT with families of preschool-age children. Implications and suggestions for future research applying PCIT to families of children with ASDs are discussed.