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Evaluating a Psychoeducational, Therapeutic Group for Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

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The current study aimed to review and evaluate a three-session psychoeducational and psychotherapeutic group programme for parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The group programme was facilitated through an ASD diagnostic and intervention service within a Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Trust over a 12-month period, throughout which time 83 parents attended a three-session course covering various aspects of ASD-specific material. Knowledge of ASD, understanding of behavioural management techniques and parental self-efficacy were measured through pre-course and post-course questionnaires, completed by the parents. Participants also completed a questionnaire regarding their experience following course attendance. The data were analysed using a mixed-methods approach. Results from pre-course and post-course analysis showed that parental understanding of the social deficits and the cognitive and behavioural difficulties associated with ASD significantly increased following course attendance. Course attendance also significantly increased parental understanding of the strategies used to support a child with ASD and parental self-efficacy. Client experience questionnaires were analysed using thematic analysis, with themes centring on the importance of peer and professional support, timeliness of intervention and relevance of information covered within the course. The parents' evaluation of the course was rated predominantly as a positive experience. The importance of parents receiving involvement through an intervention programme is explored and the results are discussed in relation to potential impact on service provision, identifying future need and areas for further research.
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Keywords: Autism Spectrum Disorder; Parent Intervention; Psychoeducational Group Workshops

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 3, 2014

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