A randomised clinical pilot trial to test the effectiveness of parent training with video modelling to improve functioning and symptoms in children with autism spectrum disorders and intellectual disability

J Intellect Disabil Res. 2020 Aug;64(8):629-643. doi: 10.1111/jir.12759. Epub 2020 Jun 30.


Background: Poor eye contact and joint attention are early signs of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and important prerequisites for developing other socio-communicative skills. Teaching parents evidence-based techniques to improve these skills can impact the overall functioning of children with ASD. We aimed to analyse the impact of conducting a group parent-training intervention with video modelling to improve the intelligent quotient (IQ), social and communication functioning and to minimise symptoms in children with ASD and intellectual disability (ID).

Methods: Study design: A multicentre, single-blinded, randomised clinical pilot trial of parent training using video modelling was conducted.

Sample: Sixty-seven parents of children with ASD, aged between 3 and 6 years and with IQs between 50 and 70, were randomised: 34 to the intervention group and 33 to the control group. Intervention program: The intervention group received parent training over 22 sessions, and the control group received the standard community treatment.

Instruments: Pre-evaluation and post-evaluation (week 28), the following were used: Autism Diagnostic Interview, Vineland Adaptive Behaviour Scale I, Snijders-Oomen Nonverbal Intelligence Test, Autism Behaviour Checklist and Hamilton Depression Rating Scale.

Data analysis: Intention to treat and complier-average causal effect (CACE) were used to estimate the effects of the intervention.

Results: There was a statistically significant improvement in the Vineland standardized communication scores in CACE (Cohen's d = 0.260). There was a non-statistically significant decrease in autism symptomatology (Autism Behaviour Checklist total scores) and a significant increase in the non-verbal IQ in the intervention group. After the false discovery rate correction was applied, IQ remained statistically significant under both paradigms. The effect size for this adjusted outcome under the intention-to-treat paradigm was close to 0.4, and when considering adherence (CACE), the effect sizes were more robust (IQ's Cohen's d = 0.433).

Conclusions: Parent training delivered by video modelling can be a useful technique for improving the care given to children with ASD and ID, particularly in countries that lack specialists.

Keywords: autism spectrum disorders; clinical trial; parent training; public health; video modelling.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Education, Nonprofessional* / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / therapy*
  • Male
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Parents*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Video Recording