For Parents

For Parents

Research Round-Up

This week we summarize research about incorporating parent engagement strategies into a parent-mediated intervention, using mindfulness strategies with a parent-mediated autism intervention to reduce parent stress, and a systematic review of interventions for minimally verbal children with autism that include a parent education component.

Adapting parent engagement strategies for an evidence‐based parent‐mediated intervention for young children at risk for autism spectrum disorder

Research has demonstrated that parent-implemented interventions may improve communication outcomes for children with autism, but one challenge is ensuring that families understand and use the strategies. In this study, researchers trained leaders at early intervention agencies to use a parent-mediated intervention with supplemental parent engagement strategies, and then these agency leaders trained the other providers. Engagement strategies included reflective listening, focusing on parent strengths, and collaborating with parents to identify their strengths and solve problems in implementing the intervention. In follow-up interviews, the providers reported the engagement strategies to be effective in increasing parent use of strategies, helpful in the providers’ ability to train parents, and appropriate in fitting provider and parent values. This suggests that teaching providers parent-engagement strategies may help them teach parents interventions more effectively, and may help parents participate in therapy more actively. The researchers did not collect data on parents’ use of the intervention, or on child outcomes, so future studies should investigate if the engagement strategies led to measurable change in behaviors.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Parents Implementing Early Intervention for Autism: An RCT

Many parents of children with autism have increased level of stress. In this study, the researchers investigated the impact of a mindfulness component of a parent-mediated autism intervention. 60 parents were taught to implement Early Start Denver Model, and half of them were taught additional mindfulness strategies. The researchers found improvements in stress levels, anxiety, and depression symptoms for parents in both groups, but the mindfulness group showed greater improvement than the intervention-only group on parent stress. Parents of children with higher levels of behavior problems also demonstrated greater improvement in parent stress during treatment. In addition, the mindfulness group showed increases in mindfulness after the intervention, whereas mindfulness in the intervention-only group decreased. This study demonstrates that parent-implemented interventions may have positive effects on stress, and that incorporating mindfulness strategies may enhance these effects.

Parent Education in Studies With Nonverbal and Minimally Verbal Participants With Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Systematic Review

Parent-mediated interventions for children with autism are well researched, but less is known about the specific effects for children who are minimally verbal. These authors reviewed the research and found that only 21% of verbal communication interventions for minimally verbal children with autism included a parent education component. In addition, these studies rarely provided information about how parent education was conducted and did not investigate long-term outcomes or factors that may hinder the success of these interventions. This suggests that more research is required to fully understand the impact of parent education for children who are minimally verbal, and that providing more detailed information about parent education may aid in clarifying the active ingredients of such interventions.