International Meeting for Autism Research (London, May 15-17, 2008): In Home Training for Fathers of Children with Autism: A Summary of Year 3 Findings

In Home Training for Fathers of Children with Autism: A Summary of Year 3 Findings

Thursday, May 15, 2008
Champagne Terrace/Bordeaux (Novotel London West)
J. H. Elder , College of Nursing, Gainesville, FL
S. A. Donaldson , College of Nursing, Gainesville, FL
G. Valcante , Department of Psychiatry, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
R. Bendixen , Occupational Therapy Department , College of Public Health and Health Professions, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
R. Ferdig , College of Education, University of Florida
Background: Literature regarding fathers of children with autism remains sparse, and because mothers are the more common intervening parent, few training methods have been tested with fathers. This presentation summarizes the first three year findings of a NINR/NIH funded study aimed at the development and implementation of novel father-directed training methods.
Objectives: (a) evaluating the effects of training fathers of autistic children with an expanded training module, (b) evaluating the effects of the expanded father training on skill acquisition by mothers, (c) evaluating the effects of the in-home training on parental stress and family cohesion, and (d) developing an Internet-based investigator-father feedback system and evaluating its feasibility during the training protocol and maintenance phases.
Methods: Fathers are taught four components of an in-home training intervention (following the child’s lead, imitation, commenting, and expectant waiting). Implementation of these strategies is evaluated via twice weekly, in-home videotaping and father-child and mother-child sessions. Parent and child behaviors have been operationalized and data are analyzed using the Observer Program. Training is enhanced by feedback that fathers receive in person and via a newly developed interactive website.
Results: Data analyzed during the first three years of this R01 (N=18 families) support earlier findings where children responded with increased social initiations, responses, and vocalizations. Newly emerging is the finding that children who benefit most are younger with <50 intelligible words. In addition, we now have preliminary data from five fathers who have used our newly developed interactive website to boost their own training and to train mothers.
Conclusions: These Year 3 data suggest that younger, less verbal children may benefit most from the intervention. Also, pilot work with the new website demonstrates that fathers can successfully use computerized platforms to enhance their family’s knowledge. This information will help design parent training interventions that can be remotely delivered interactively over the internet.