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14-11-2016 | Original Paper | Uitgave 3/2017

Journal of Child and Family Studies 3/2017

Social Validity of a Training and Coaching Program for Parents of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder on a Waiting List for Early Behavioral Intervention

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 3/2017
Mélina Rivard, Marjorie Morin, Céline Mercier, Amélie Terroux, Catherine Mello, Anabel Lépine


Due to limited public resources, many children with autism spectrum disorder and their families must wait several months, if not years, to access early behavioral intervention (EBI) services. Service providers must thus develop alternative support models to assist families placed on waiting lists. The present study assessed the social validity of one such initiative, a training and coaching program for parents whose children had been put on a waiting list for EBI services. This program consisted of group training sessions on strategies to cope with their child’s disorder based on applied behavioral analysis and on one-hour, weekly follow-up meetings to support parents’ interventions with their child over the course of 12 months. Social validity was assessed through parental satisfaction with this program and their perception of its effects on themselves, the family, the child, and parental stress. The 94 participants were generally satisfied with the program overall, although they wished for more frequent and intensive interventions. They reported that the program had positive effects on their psychological well-being, their family’s quality of life, and their child’s behavior. However, parenting stress levels were found to have increased over the 12-month period. These results demonstrate that training and individually supporting parents can be beneficial for families of children with ASD who cannot have access to early behavioral intervention immediately upon receiving a diagnosis. Importantly, however, these lower-cost, parent-focused programs cannot be considered a substitute for more intensive and children-driven services.

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