Objectives: This aim of this study was to examine the effect of an Integrative Parent Education Program (IPEP) on knowledge gain, comfort in managing challenging behaviors, and QoL in caregivers of children diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), utilizing a between-group, repeated-measure research design.
Methods: Participants to date are 43 primary caregivers of children diagnosed with an ASD. All participants received a standard score above 70 on the Gilliam Autism Rating Scale-Second Edition and also had previously received a formal diagnosis by a licensed psychologist. Caregivers all endorsed behaviors that were challenging to manage. Referrals were made by a state agency for behavior intervention and parent training. Participants were assigned to either the IPEP (n=23) or Treatment as Usual (TU) condition (n=20). Caregivers in the treatment condition attended a total of four IPEP modules. Course topics included general information on ASD diagnoses, typical child development, efficacious treatments, principles of
Results: Preliminary findings show that a small sample of caregivers who completed the IPEP program showed improved scores of parent knowledge (p=.011) and greater comfort with behavior management (p=.028) from pre- to post-test. Caregiver ratings of quality of life (QoL) appeared to remain more constant. However, pre-post test correlations for the QoL measures used appeared adequate.
Conclusions: The implementation of an Integrative Parent Education Program is effective in increasing caregiver’s knowledge and comfort in managing challenging behaviors. However, changes in perceived QoL may remain constant. It is possible such improvement in QoL lags behind the increases in caregiver knowledge and comfort in managing behaviors.