Study of Changes in Caregiving-Related Parental Stress after Parent Training in Evidence-Based Techniques

Saturday, May 14, 2016: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Hall A (Baltimore Convention Center)
M. Diamond1, L. Keenan2 and M. Habash3, (1)A Global Voice for Autism, Minneapolis, MN, (2)A Global Voice for Autism, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, (3)A Global Voice for Autism, Ottawa, ON, Canada
Background:  Families affected by autism in the West Bank experience significant political, socioeconomic and cultural barriers when attempting to access evidence-based autism services. Studies have shown that mothers of children with autism in communities with access to resources experience stress similar to that of a combat soldier. For families who live in communities without resources, this stress is even greater. The lack of professionals qualified to diagnose autism and to provide intervention for children on the spectrum increases parental stress and leads families to feel isolated in raising their children with autism. This study measures changes in parental stress before and after teaching parents evidence-based techniques for supporting their children with autism at home and in the community.   

Objectives:  To assess changes in parental stress, as related to caregiving for a child with autism prior to and following training in evidence-based intervention techniques.  

Methods:  A total of twenty-four families (n=24) of children who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders in Jenin and Ramallah Palestine participated in this study, with sixteen families from Jenin and eight families from Ramallah. Primary caregivers answered questions about their own stress and comfort managing their child’s behaviors at home and in the community prior to and after taking part in a 12-week parent-training program. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected and analyzed.

Results: Results across the Jenin and Ramallah groups suggested that teaching parents how to utilize evidence-based practices to teach their children with autism new skills significantly decreases parental stress as related to caregiving for children with autism. Furthermore, we observed that teaching parents that they are not at fault for their child’s autism is a significant factor in reducing parental stress.

Conclusions:  Parent training can benefit parents in conflict-affected communities by teaching them strategies to support their children at home and in the community. Teaching parents that they are not the cause of their child’s autism also decreases stress for these caregivers.