Some treatments for young children with autism have been shown to have important, immediate benefits but it is often difficult for children with autism to transfer, or generalise, skills that they have learned during treatment to other parts of their lives, for instance, to home and school. In a previous study (the Pre-school Autism Communication Trial; PACT) the research team were able to show that a therapy for parents of pre-school children with autism helped to improve children’s communication with their parents, but these improvements were less obvious in other settings. The new PACT-G trial aims to test ways to transfer the child’s social communication gains into everyday home and education settings. Before, during and after intervention, we will assess the child’s social communication at home and at school and measure changes in autism symptoms.
We have designed the intervention to be appropriate for children aged 2-11 years. This allows us to test the impact of the intervention across pre-school and middle childhood and to compare outcomes with those from our two previous studies: PACT and the PACT 7-11 study, which followed-up the PACT sample into middle childhood.
The team is very well placed to carry out this study, having successfully collaborated on the previous influential PACT trial and follow-up study. It contains UK international leaders in autism treatment research, an international expert in education research and senior statisticians. Service users and families have been heavily involved in the development of our previous work and of this trial.
To implement this trial, there are research teams in Greater Manchester, South London and North East England, with two specialist speech and language therapists per site and two researchers at each site to undertake the fieldwork.
Who is involved in this study?
The Chief Investigator for this study is Professor Jonathan Green (University of Manchester). The Principal Investigator for this study at Newcastle is Prof Ann Le Couteur.
Also involved in the project from the Neurodevelopment and Disability team are:
- Strategic Research Adviser
- Professor of Child and Adolescent Clinical Psychology
- Clinical Senior Lecturer, Newcastle University
- Honorary Consultant Paediatrician, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
From outside the team there are:
- Dr Vicki Grahame (Therapy Supervision)