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Parenting for Autism, Language, And Communication Evaluation Study (PALACES): protocol for a pilot randomised controlled trial

16 Feb 2017


Children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) often have associated behavioural difficulties that can present a challenge for parents and parenting. There are several effective social learning theory-based parenting programmes for dealing with behavioural difficulties, including the Incredible Years (IY) parent programmes. However, these programmes typically do not specifically target parents of children with ASD. Recently, a new addition to the IY suite of programmes known as the IY Autistic Spectrum and Language Delays (IY-ASLD) parent programme was developed. The main aims of the present study are to examine the feasibility of delivering this programme within child health services and to provide initial evidence for effectiveness and economic costs.

Methods and analysis

The Parenting for Autism, Language, And Communication Evaluation Study (PALACES) trial is a pragmatic, multicentre, pilot randomised controlled trial comparing the IY-ASLD programme with a wait-list control condition. 72 parents of children with ASD (aged 3–8 years) will be randomly allocated to either the intervention or control condition. Data will be collected prior to randomisation and 6 months postrandomisation for all families. Families in the intervention condition only will also be followed up at 12 and 18 months postrandomisation. This study will provide initial evidence of effectiveness for the newly developed IY-ASLD parenting programme. It will also add to the limited economic evidence for an intervention targeting parents of children with ASD and provide longer term data, an important component for evaluations of parenting programmes.

Ethics and dissemination

Approval for the study was granted by the Research Ethics Committee at the School of Psychology, Bangor University (reference number: 2016–15768) and the North Wales Research Ethics Committee, UK (reference number: 16/WA/0224). The findings will be disseminated through research conferences and peer-reviewed journals.

Trial registration number

ISRCTN57070414; Pre-results.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open