Exploratory Study of Manualized Parent Training with Parental Support for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder




Cartwright, Julia Elizabeth

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Parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) present for therapeutic services with two essential needs: training on behavioral strategies specific to children with ASD and support for parental stress. Training parents as agents of behavior change increases intervention exposure naturally. Parents of children with ASD experience high parental stress, which negatively impacts parenting and treatment engagement. The current study assessed outcomes of adding a parent-support component to RUBI Autism Network's Parent Training for Disruptive Behaviors (RUBI Manual). A single-subject alternating treatments design was implemented within a community-based sample of parent-child dyads (10 participants). Each dyad received two treatment packages in a rapid alternating fashion. PT-Alone sessions included a manualized parent-training module, while PT-Plus sessions included a manualized parent-training module and 15-minute pre-session parent-support component. Five dyads with a child (average age=32 months) with ASD and disruptive behavior participated in three baseline and 11 RUBI Manual sessions, six included the parent-support component. Hypotheses included that parental stress and child disruptive behavior would decrease with intervention, while parent positive praise would increase. While the intervention effectively reduced child disruptive behaviors and increased parent praise, the primary finding was that the addition of the parent-support component further increased parent treatment integrity and parent praise. Results support a model of change for parenting behavior. Specifically, meaningfully programming for parent support within child behavioral treatment improved parent engagement, reflected in increased parent treatment integrity, which resulted in increased parenting skills, reflected in increased parent praise. Increased parenting skills likely contributed to decreased child disruptive behavior and parental stress. Inclusion of a parent-support component is supported as an effective practice for parent training within this specialized population.

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