Effectiveness of a Family Psychoeducation Program for Parents of Young Children with ASD

Saturday, May 14, 2016: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Hall A (Baltimore Convention Center)
T. Takezawa1, T. Yoshikawa2 and M. Inoue3, (1)Education and Social Service, Institute for Developmental Research, Aichi Human Service Center, Kasugai, Aichi, Japan, (2)Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Central Hospital,Aichi Human Service Center, Kasugai, Aichi, Japan, (3)Tottori University, Yonago, Tottori, Japan
Background:  Many parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are more likely to experience depression and stress than those of children with/without other types of disabilities. It could become much more pronounced when their children are diagnosed. Therefore, an appropriate program should be provided to reduce the parent’s anxiety and parenting stress at a crucial time.

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of a family psychoedeucation program for parents of young children with ASD. 

Methods: Thirty-one parents participated in the program, and received a series of lectures on ASD and other related topics for 3 months. Beck Depression Inventory-Second Edition (BDI-Ⅱ) and Parenting Stress Index Short Form (PS-SF) were used to measure the parent’s anxiety and parenting stress. The participants also answered a questionnaire on degree of understanding and satisfaction with the program.

Results: BDI-Ⅱ scores of the participants significantly decreased at the end of the program. Similarly, PS-SF scores also tended to decline although it was not a statistically significant change. Most participants developed a better understanding of ASD and had a high level of satisfaction with the program.

Conclusions: The results revealed that the program could be effective for reducing the depression of parents of young children with ASD. However, the program was not effective enough to reduce parenting stress. A likely explanation is that the participants reacknowledged the problems and their responsibility as parents through the program. The program needs to be revised, focusing on reducing parenting stress more effectively. Starting at an early stage of awareness and diagnosis, family psychoeducation program could play an important role as one of the early family intervention programs for ASD.