International Meeting for Autism Research: The feasibility and preliminary effectiveness of a school-based, blended developmental and behavioral parenting intervention for children with ASD

The feasibility and preliminary effectiveness of a school-based, blended developmental and behavioral parenting intervention for children with ASD

Thursday, May 12, 2011
Elizabeth Ballroom E-F and Lirenta Foyer Level 2 (Manchester Grand Hyatt)
10:00 AM
B. Ingersoll, Psychology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Background: Despite the acknowledged benefits of parent training for children with ASD, parent training interventions are rarely implemented in public special education settings for children with ASD.  Project ImPACT is 12-session parenting training program that teaches parents to improve their child’s social communication during daily routines and activities. The intervention utilizes a novel blend of developmental and behavioral techniques that are designed to promote social engagement, language, imitation, and play in children with ASD.

Objectives: This study investigated the feasibility and preliminary effectiveness of Project ImPACT in public early intervention and early childhood special education (EI/ESCE) programs serving students with ASD.

Methods:   Eleven teachers representing three intermediate school districts were trained by the intervention developers to implement the intervention with 28 students and their parents.  At pre- and post-treatment, parents and teachers completed measures of child social communication skills, autistic symptomatology, parenting stress, and treatment acceptability.  Parents were also observed in their homes interacting with their child during free play and a daily routine.  Paired t-tests were used to examine changes in parent and child functioning from pre- to post-treatment.

Results:   Parents of 24 children (86%) completed the program.  Parents and teachers reported significant gains in child mastery of social communication skills on the Social-Communication Checklist.  Teachers, but not parents, also reported a significant decrease in autistic symptomatology on the Social Responsiveness Scale.  Parents improved their use of the treatment strategies and children increased their rate of appropriate language during a parent-child interaction in their home.  Parents also reported a significant decrease in parenting stress on the child domain, but not the parent domain, of the Parenting Stress Index.  Both parents and teachers rated the intervention highly in regards to treatment acceptability and usability.

Conclusions: The moderate to high completion rate and positive ratings by parents and teachers indicate that this intervention can be feasibly implemented in public EI/ECSE settings, filling a significant gap in services for public preschool intervention programs serving children with ASD.  Improvements in child and parent functioning provide preliminary evidence for the effectiveness of this intervention approach.

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