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Brief Parent Training for Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: An Exploration of Parents' Stage of Change and Implications for Treatment

Friday, 3 May 2013: 14:00-18:00
Banquet Hall (Kursaal Centre)
S. Wilson-Loupée, Clinical Psychology, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Chicago, IL
Background: Parent training has emerged as a robust intervention to help remediate developmental, adaptive, and behavioral challenges characteristic of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). However, parents' adherence to prescribed treatment regimens is generally suboptimal and not well understood. Although researchers consistently acknowledge parent adherence as an important determinant of child outcomes, few studies exist that address this issue. As it applies to ASDs, the first study to explicitly examine parents' adherence found that only 54% of parents sampled reported adherence to their recommended behavioral regimen. A distinct but related literature - pediatric chronic illness - observes equally disappointing findings. Similar to parents of children with ASD, parents of children with chronic illness are increasingly required to perform interventions at home. Across literatures, scholars have argued for an overarching model from which to conceptualize and address parent non-adherence to parent training initiatives.

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to (1) present the first use of the URICA in an ASD parent training sample, and (2) examine the relationship between motivation to change and several variables often cited in parent training literature as barriers to adherence. Based on findings in pediatric chronic illness literature, we predicted that motivation to change would be significantly correlated with information-seeking and behavioral knowledge. Likewise, we predicted that parents’ sense of competency and family life impairment would vary in predictable ways depending on parents’ stage of change classification. Since this is an exploratory study and the first to use the URICA, we also examined the association between motivation to change and satisfaction with parent training services.

Methods: Stage of change, information-seeking behavior, behavioral knowledge, parent sense of competency, and family life impairment were examined before and after parents' participation in a brief parent training program. Parents’ satisfaction with programming was also assessed after completion of parent training. Parents were enrolled in the parent training program as a gateway to accessing a broad range of clinical services. All program objectives were taught with the expectation that participating families will receive ongoing services at the clinic and that their individual therapist will continue to build on the skill set acquired through the program.

Results: Data collection is in progress.

Conclusions: Parents' adherence to parent training is a critical and understudied aspect of treatment for ASD. Findings from this study will add to this literature.

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