Child-Adult Relationship Enhancement for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: CARE Connections

  • Robin H. GurwitchEmail author
  • Melanie M. Nelson
  • John Paul Abner


An estimated 1 in 59 children in the USA is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD; CDC, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Surveillance Summaries 67(6):1–23, 2018). While all children diagnosed with ASD experience some level of difficulty with social communication and restricted, repetitive interests, many also exhibit problematic disruptive behaviors across settings. Parents and other adults in the children’s lives (e.g., family members, teachers, medical and mental health professionals, community members) are important in helping children with ASD meet their potential. Although several interventions exist that target children with ASD, their parents, and teachers, there are no widely available, evidence-based programs designed to help other adults who interact with children with ASD but who do not have a major caretaking role. Child-Adult Relationship Enhancement (CARE) is an intervention for all adults in provider roles based on evidence-based parenting programs (including Parent-Child Interaction Therapy; PCIT) designed to strengthen social relationships and improve child compliance for minor to moderate difficulties. Early findings related to CARE show that it is a promising intervention for improving relationships and behavior in several populations. Specifically, CARE Connections is an adaptation developed for all adults interacting with children with ASD. CARE Connections incorporates adult learning principles, live feedback, and ASD-specific examples to increase program uptake and implementation for care providers in a child’s life. CARE Connections may be an important step for all adults to learn more effective means of communicating with children with ASD with the goal of improving the child’s overall development (e.g., social development).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robin H. Gurwitch
    • 1
    Email author
  • Melanie M. Nelson
    • 2
  • John Paul Abner
    • 3
  1. 1.Duke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA
  2. 2.University of Florida College of MedicineGainesvilleUSA
  3. 3.Milligan CollegeJohnson CityUSA

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