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Boost for Autism research at Booth Hall

Autism Research at Booth Hall Children’s Hospital has been by boosted by a £1.9 million Award. The funding, for a major new clinical trial to develop communication skills for children affected by autism has been granted by the Medical Research Council and The Department of Health. The four year Pre-school Autism Communication Trail (PACT trial), led by Dr Jonathan Green will study the effectiveness of a treatment designed to enhance parent/child communication and social and language development of the child. In order to learn new ways of understanding and communicating with their child, the families will attend sessions every two weeks with a therapist for six months, with monthly booster sessions for a further six months. A pilot study of this treatment, which was published last year, showed promising initial evidence of its effectiveness. Dr Jonathan Green said: “This is the first large-scale intervention study of its kind in autism. We hope that it will provide a new evidence base for autism service planning and help to change the face of service provision both in the UK and overseas. Because the treatment helps communication, it improves a parent’s sense of competence and involvement with their child, as well as the child’s development. Parents from our focus groups have indicated that this is central to what that need from an intervention”. The multi-site trial developed in collaboration with the National Autistic Society will involve 144 children on three sites in Manchester, Newcastle and London.