Telehealth for rural families of children with autism viable solution, study says

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child with autism plays(wabi)
Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 6:04 PM EDT
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ORONO, Maine (WABI) - Results are now available from a study conducted last year led by two University of Maine professors that focused on the applications of telehealth for rural families of children diagnosed with autism.

Assistant Professors of special education Deborah Rooks-Ellis and Sarah Howorth led the study last summer and fall.

For 12 weeks, parents were remotely coached through interactions with their children to support development on targeted skills.

The study was intended to help rural families that couldn't easily access services in person but has quickly become even more important.

Lessons learned from the study helped child development services adapt more quickly to the pandemic.

“This started with ten families” says Rooks-Ellis. “But then when the pandemic hit, they were able to do it statewide across multiple families.”

Parents who participated in the study reported improvement and were pleased with the ease of access.

“One woman said it was life changing and it wasn’t a short term solution but was a life solution for their family.”

They hope to conduct more research to see what other conditions could benefit from this kind of telehealth.

The research was funded in part by a grant from the Maine Department of Education.

You can read the full results of the study here.

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