May 12, 2014 -- 6:26 pmParents of children who have autism have deep concerns about their children’s challenging behavior. Coping with challenging behavior can lead to increased parental and family stress. With U.S. autism rates increasing 30 percent in the past 2 years, researchers now estimate that 1 in 68 children has autism. For many parents, access to parent education programs is hindered by limited accessibility, travel time, and lack of peer and professional support. To address this need, IRIS Educational Media of Eugene, OR has received a one year grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop an online coaching program that provides education and support to parents of young children, ages 4 to 8, who have autism.
The project, Autism Parent Training (APT), aims to provide coach-facilitated group instruction to parents in how to teach new behaviors, manage problem behaviors, and learn stress reduction strategies. APT will use Google Hangouts for parents to attend a series of online group workshops and provide access to skill-building videos on a private YouTube channel. By using Google Hangouts, parents can access effective training resources with no set-up cost and minimal technology barriers. No special software is required. Participating parents need only a computer, a high-speed internet connection, and a Google account.
Preliminary program content has been developed for pilot tests. Parents will attend a series of 90-minute online group workshops via Google Hangouts which allows video chat communication among coaches and participants. Coaches can share their desktop so all parents can view resource materials and video training via APT’s private YouTube channel. In each workshop, APT coaches will introduce behavior management and stress reduction strategies. Each session will allow time for group discussion and conclude with a review, an assignment and encouragement to use APT’s social community to share knowledge and support with other parents. Merging web‐based technology with evidence‐based practice, APT will provide parents with the knowledge to help their children and themselves.
A recent APT Project focus group generated positive comments from parents about the usefulness of this approach. Future plans include a feasibility evaluation with 40 parents of children who have autism in September, 2014. Parents who are interested in participating in the evaluation can learn more here: https://irised.com/research/current_projects/autism_parent_training
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