Combining Web-Based Learning, Interactive Instruction and Remote Supervision to Train Community-Based Providers in a Parent Coaching Intervention for ASD
There is increasing evidence supporting the effectiveness of parent coaching interventions targeting social communication skills in young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and both parents and providers hold positive views about this intervention approach. Unfortunately, formal parent coaching programs are highly under-utilized in community settings. A challenge to dissemination and implementation is that a provider must demonstrate knowledge of the intervention strategies, and the skills to effectively teach and support parents in their use of the strategies. Many early intervention providers are trained to work directly with children, yet are not as familiar with adult learning principles or methods for providing parents with feedback and coaching. Recent advances in distance learning suggest that the use of computer and internet technology may help to increase access to training and support for community-based providers. Prior to large scale dissemination of these training protocols, a better understanding of the extent to which providers learn and effectively use parent coaching strategies from such a protocol is critical.
An innovative and systematic training protocol was developed to introduce community-based providers to Project ImPACT, a parent coaching intervention aimed at increasing social communication skills in young children with ASD. The protocol includes web-based instruction, brief interactive workshops, and remote skype consultation/supervision. Initial research suggests that this training protocol is feasible, acceptable and effective for learning the Project ImPACT intervention techniques. The current research aimed to determine the extent to which providers found the same protocol to be acceptable and effective for learning the parent coaching strategies. Additionally, this research examined the sustainability of Project ImPACT after the use of this training protocol.
Fifteen community-based providers participated in the study. The training protocol included: 1) a web-based Project ImPACT tutorial; 2) a one-day interactive workshop about the intervention techniques; 3) three remote skype supervision/feedback sessions about intervention techniques ; 4) a one-day interactive workshop about parent coaching; and 5) three remote skype supervision/feedback sessions about parent coaching. Providers completed questionnaires and videotaped provider-family interactions at 6 time points: Time 1 (baseline); Time 2 (after the web-based tutorial); Time 3 (after the first interactive workshop); Time 4 (before the second interactive workshop); Time 5 (after the second interactive workshop); and Time 6 (six-month follow-up).
The community-based providers found this training protocol to be feasible, acceptable and effective. Providers also demonstrated improvements in fidelity of the Project ImPACT intervention techniques and parent coaching strategies. The majority of providers have continued to use Project ImPACT; however, some barriers to training and to the sustainability of the parent coaching program were identified.
Conclusions: This study provides evidence for the acceptability and effectiveness of a training protocol integrating internet-technology, in-person instruction and remote supervision to train community-based service providers in an evidence-based parent coaching intervention for children with ASD. Results suggest that a program like this may serve to overcome barriers to the use of parent coaching programs in community settings, and may ultimately increase access to evidence-based intervention services for children with ASD in the community.