PASS: Parent-mediated intervention for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in South Asia
University of Liverpool
Global Autism Public Health
The majority of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) live in low and middle-income countries and have little access to effective interventions or services. Most research in interventions for ASD has been conducted in richer countries with relatively large numbers of ASD specialist therapists. One of the best-researched interventions, in which parents are trained to help their children communicate, has been found to work very well in the UK (the PACT intervention). The aim of this project is to adapt this intervention carefully so that it can be used by parents of children in low-income countries. Because there are very few specialists in these settings, the project will explore the impact of the delivery of the intervention by trained and supervised non-specialists. The project will be conducted in Goa, India and Rawalpindi, Pakistan. These two countries are home to the largest number of children in the world, and have very large unmet needs for care for autism. Partners in each site have an established world-class record of research to improve access to care for mental and developmental disorders and will be supported by experts in a high-income setting (the UK). The project will have three Phases. In the first phase, the investigators will talk to parents of children with ASD about their experiences, to people who may have tried to help these parents and their children, and to local experts who are involved in developing services for children. Using this information, UK team will work with local experts to make necessary changes to the intervention so that it can work in these South Asian settings. In the second phase the investigators will test the intervention to find out if it works, by delivering it to 30 children with ASD and comparing them to 30 children who will not receive the intervention. The children, who will be recruited from Goa and Rawalpindi, will be divided into treatment and control groups in such a way each child has an equal chance of being in either group. The study aims to evaluate the effects after 6 months by carrying out a number of tests for parent-child interaction and the child’s social functioning. In the third phase, data analysis will be performed with the aim of disseminating the results. This project is important because it aims to develop an intervention that has the potential to be used in settings where there are few specialist autism service providers, a challenge faced by most of the developing world.