The use of a self-directed learning program to provide introductory training to parents of children with autism
Nicolette Nefdt, University of California, Santa Barbara, United States
University of California, Santa Barbara . Awarded
As a result of the increased incidence of autism spectrum disorders, the gap between the current need and availability of empirically supported treatments (EST) has widened. Researchers facing this need vs. services discrepancy with clinical populations other than ASD have been successful at using self-directed learning models as an effective and cost efficient way to educate parents about how to implement effective intervention methods. Despite its potential applicability for the education of parents of children with autism there is very little published research evaluating the use of self-directed learning models to teach parents to provide intervention for their child with autism. The purpose of this study was to evaluate, through a randomized clinical trial, whether the use of a self-directed learning program (an interactive DVD with manual) could result in changes in parents' use of Pivotal Response Treatment procedures and in parents ability to provide language opportunities to their child with autism. Changes in parent's levels of confidence while interacting with their child and in the children's use of communicative utterances were also evaluated. Results indicated significant differences between treatment and control groups at posttest on all of the dependent measures of fidelity of implementation, parent opportunities for language, observed parent confidence and child functional verbalizations. Furthermore all of the parents who completed the self-directed learning program reported that the procedures they learned from the program changed the way they interacted with their child and that they would recommend the program to other parents. The data suggest the efficacy and effectiveness of a self-directed learning program as an introduction for parents on the implementation of an empirically supported treatment as part of a comprehensive intervention plan for children with autism. Limitations and directions for a programmatic line of research are discussed.
Nefdt, N. The use of a self-directed learning program to provide introductory training to parents of children with autism. Ph.D. thesis, University of California, Santa Barbara.
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