Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (Sep 2022)

Long-term follow-up of telehealth-enabled behavioral treatment for challenging behaviors in boys with fragile X syndrome

  • Scott S. Hall,
  • Arlette Bujanda Rodriguez,
  • Booil Jo,
  • Joy S. Pollard

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 14, no. 1
pp. 1 – 13


Read online

Abstract Background A significant proportion of boys with fragile X syndrome (FXS), the most common known genetic cause of intellectual disability, exhibit challenging behaviors such as aggression and self-injury that can cause significant distress to families. Recent evidence suggests that coaching caregivers to implement functional communication training (FCT) with their child via telehealth can help to ameliorate these behaviors in FXS. In the present study, we followed families who had participated in our previous randomized controlled trial of FCT to evaluate the longer-term effects of FCT on challenging behaviors in this population. Methods In study 1, follow-up emails, phone calls, text messages, and letters were sent to caregivers of 48 boys with FXS who had completed our previous study conducted between 2016 and 2019. The main outcome measures administered at follow-up were the Aberrant Behavior Checklist–Community (ABC-C) and the Parenting Stress Index, 4th Edition (PSI-4). In study 2, families who had received FCT treatment but whose child exhibited challenging behaviors daily at follow-up received a 1-h parent training booster session to determine whether the intervention effect could be recovered. Results Sixteen (66.7%) of 24 families who had received FCT treatment and 18 (75.0%) of 24 families who had received treatment as usual were traced and consented between March and August 2021. The mean follow-up time was 3.1 years (range, 1.4 to 4.2 years). Longitudinal mixed effects analyses indicated that boys who had received FCT were more likely to show improvements on the irritability and lethargy/social withdrawal subscales of the ABC-C over the follow-up interval compared to boys who had continued with treatment as usual. Four of the six boys who had received the booster parent training session via telehealth were reported to exhibit fewer forms of challenging behavior at a 4-week follow-up. Conclusions Empowering parents to implement behavior analytic treatments with their child in their own home can have durable effects on maintaining low levels of challenging behaviors in boys with FXS. These data further support the need to implement parent-mediated interventions for challenging behaviors in this population at an early age. Trial registration, NCT03510156 . Registered 27 April 2018