Objectives: This study measures the effect of incorporating a one-time social work intervention on parent’s perception of a) their child’s evaluation and b) community resources. Secondly, this study seeks to understand if this intervention has a lagged effect on the aforementioned areas.
Methods: Families are assigned to experimental or control conditions based on routine scheduling, at an outpatient autism clinic. Both conditions receive care as usual, including an evaluation with an MD, SLP and OT. However, families in the experimental condition receive an additional 2 hours of social work intervention during evaluation, designed to process and provide psycho-education related to diagnosis and increase parents awareness of community resources.
Outcomes are measured at two points in time, including directly after their child’s evaluation and 4-6 weeks post-evaluation. At baseline, both conditions complete a demographic questionnaire, and the “lack of clarity” and “information” subscales of the Mishel Uncertainty in Illness Scale (Mishel, 1981). Similar to previous studies (Lipinksi et al., 2006), the items were customized to measure parents perception of their child’s autism diagnostic evaluation. Additionally, an original, 11-item likert-type measure was developed to assess parents’ knowledge of and willingness to access available community resources. The follow-up questionnaire, comprised of selected items from both scales, is conducted by phone post-evaluation.
Results: Results from the unpaired two-way t-test found no differences in means between conditions (n=7) for either subscale scores at baseline (p > .05). When post-test scores are available and the sample size grows, a multiple linear regression model will be employed to analyze differences in baseline and follow-up means while controlling for social economic indicators.
Conclusions: Results from the preliminary analysis found no significant differences between conditions for parents’ clarity and comprehension of both the evaluation process and results, or their perception of community resources. However, this null finding is likely due to the very small sample size. Conclusions from our investigation will describe the relative significance of incorporating SW as one component of a comprehensive multidisciplinary evaluation for ASD. Recommendations will be made regarding the importance of attending to family perception of the evaluation process and caregivers’ understanding of and likelihood to seek out recommended resources. Each of these has important implications for the creation and delivery of comprehensive evaluations for ASD.