“MSU Study concludes telehealth improves communications between parents and children with autism”

In an era of ever improving healthcare technologies, telehealth therapy lessons for parents of children with autism is the latest advancement that is changing the industry standard.

Autism is a developmental disorder that affects an estimated 1 in every 68 children in the United States, with treatment and other resources costing $250 billion annually (“Autism’s Costs to U.S. Economy Estimated to Top $265 Billion for 2015.” Autism Speaks. Web. 26 Sept. 2016). Telehealth offers to fill the gap between the growth of parents of children with autism and the lack of corresponding growth in the intervention services available to these parents.

At Michigan State University, a federally funded pilot study was conducted to study levels of social interactiveness of children with autism when equipped with parents immersed in telehealth training.

The study included 28 parents of children with autism, all completing one 75 minute self-directed lesson per week, for a total of 12 weeks, practicing newly learned intervention techniques with their children. Half of the parents participated in two, thirty minute coaching sessions per week via video-conferencing with a therapist.

The results indicated that the children receiving the sessions from their newly trained parents were found to be advancing in “social communication skills and their own competence regardless of which group they were in” and the parents felt like they made “greater gains in their ability to use the intervention techniques” (University, Michigan State. “Can Telehealth Fill Gap in Autism Services?” MSUToday. Web. 26 Sept. 2016).

Investigators conducting the study also noted that these parents felt lower levels of stress than normal. Typically this stress is attributed to the feeling of helplessness parents feel when trying to help their children, the feeling that they are unable to communicate effectively. The results of the study leads the investigators to conclude that telehealth therapy leads to increased effective communication functions in both the parents and their children with autism.

Lead investigator Brooke Ingersoll hopes that these methods will trickle down to those that do not have access to more intensive therapy.

The same improvement of care that telemedicine has provided in other areas like chronic pain management and increased access to healthcare information can now be applied to the area of autism (Coleman, K., B. T. Austin, C. Brach, and E. H. Wagner. “Evidence On The Chronic Care Model In The New Millennium.” Health Affairs 28.1 (2009): 75-85. Web).

This is one of the many ways that a telemental health solution can foster positive outcomes in medical care. To see how the WeCounsel platform can create the same outcomes for you and your clients, simply navigate to the home page to try our software free of charge for the first 30 days.