Examining the Impact of a Virtual Parent Training on the Perceived Stress Levels of Parents who have Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder



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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network reported that 1 in 44 children have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) (Centers for Disease Control, 2022). ASD is one of the fastest-growing disability categories. The characteristics of ASD may impact an individual’s overall development and social outcomes across their lifespan. In turn, the individual’s family and close friends may also feel the impact of the characteristics of autism. One major area of stress for families with ASD is obtaining a diagnosis and finding therapeutic services for the individual with autism and their family. Research suggests that families who have children with ASD experience greater amounts of stress. Stressors include finances, social isolation, and the impact the experience has on marital and other family relationship statuses. This study investigates the effects of a virtual parent training on parent stress. Specifically, this study asked the following questions: (1) Following participation in a virtual parent training, are parents able to implement interventions and strategies that lead to behavior change for their children? (2) Does providing parents with virtual parent training reduce their perceived stress levels? (3) Does child progress on identified goals impact perceived parental stress levels? (4) What is the perception of parents regarding virtual parent training following implementation? Parents and families from Texas with a child who had a medical diagnosis of autism were recruited for this study. Parents were taught to implement antecedent-based interventions and behavior specific praise. These skills were used to work on goals targeted for the child as identified by the parents and BCBA. An AB design was used with visual analysis (level, trend, and variability) to determine training effectiveness. A 26-item Social Validity Survey was used to determine the effect of the training on perceived parent stress and effectiveness of the training. The results of this study indicated that parents were able to implement interventions and strategies that lead to behavior change for their children. However, the training and the outcomes for the parents and children did not lead to a reduction in perceived stress levels for the parents. The parents who participated in this training reported that the training was effective, supportive, and satisfactory.



autism, coparenting, divorce, parent relationship, parenting, parent implemented intervention, stress, finances