The parent programme: a psycho-educational intervention for parents of children with autism
McCreadie, M. (2013) The parent programme: a psycho-educational intervention for parents of children with autism.
Background Having a child with autism places significant demands on parents. Few interventions address parental understanding of the meaning behind child behaviour, and the relationship this has with parental stress. Parent-mediated interventions focus on behaviour exhibited by the child and ignore parental stress. This study assesses the impact of a psycho-educational intervention, which assists parents to derive meaning from their child’s behaviour. Aims The overall aim was to investigate if an intervention targeted exclusively at parents would: • Reduce parent stress associated with Child Characteristics • Reduce parent stress associated with Parenting Characteristics • Facilitate changes in parental coping styles Methods A quantitative approach was adopted to evaluate the impact of the intervention. Measures of parental stress (Parenting Stress Index) and parental coping (Ways of Coping, Revised) were taken at three time intervals; prior to, at a mid-point, and at the end of the intervention. Results Questionnaires were completed by 71 parents and the results were computed using a repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA). There was a statistically significant change within the parent and child domains of the Parenting Stress Index (p. 0.0005), with parents showing less stress associated with interpretations of their child’s behaviour, and significant changes in their use of problem-focussed coping. Conclusion Parent-mediated interventions that target parent characteristics associated with child behaviour, are inexpensive and have significant benefit. However, we require further research to explore the relationship between stress and coping variables in parents of children with autism to inform the future direction of intervention.