Parent Outcomes in Group Intervention for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
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It has been shown that having a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) impacts parents in many ways. However, there is limited research examining changes of these impacts over time, especially in the context of childrens intervention. This study examined changes in personal wellbeing, family quality of life, mental health issues, and parenting stress in 178 parents of children with ASD receiving a group behavioural intervention. The groups had varying levels of parent involvement, which was also considered, along with differences between mothers and fathers. Data were collected via questionnaires administered at the beginning, end, and at a 9- to 11-week follow-up of the group intervention. Overall, there were significant improvements in mental health issues and parenting stress from the beginning to the end of the group. While there were no differences between mothers and fathers with regard to changes over time, some relevant differences were noted in their baseline scores. The group with higher parent involvement showed significantly better improvements in personal wellbeing, family quality of life, and parenting stress than the lower involvement group. Possible mechanisms of change in the outcome variables were also examined. At follow-up, all gains in the outcome variables were maintained. The findings suggest that group behavioural interventions for children with ASD can have a positive impact on parents, and that groups with greater parent involvement offer even more benefit. Importantly, these changes are maintained beyond the end of the group. The mechanisms by which improvements are seen suggest aspects that could be incorporated by childrens service providers.