An educational workshop for parents of children with Asperger syndrome

Lara Kroodsma (2008)

Having a child with Asperger syndrome (AS) is often confusing and stressful for parents. These parents are at increased risk for stress, depression, and anxiety. To successfully adapt these parents need (a) information about AS and its treatment; (b) help learning new skills; and (c) social support. This project evaluated the ability of group parent education to meet the needs of parents of children with AS. A curriculum was developed for a 9-week educational workshop. Then the program was piloted with forty parents of children ages 3 through 17 diagnosed with AS. And finally, the program was evaluated on its ability to positively affect four variables related to healthy parent adjustment, including (a) child behavior, (b) social support, (c) parenting self-efficacy, and (d) parenting stress. The study used a quasi-experimental pre-post mixed design. Quantitative pre-post measures included (a) The Eyeberg Child Behavior Inventory (ECBI); (b) The Modified Social Support Questionnaire 6 (SSQ6); (c) The Parental Self-Efficacy Scale in the Management of Asperger Syndrome (PS-EMAS); and (d) The Parenting Stress Index/Short Form (PSI/SF) or The Stress Index for Parents of Adolescents (SIPA). All pre-post measures were analyzed via paired sample t -tests. The qualitative method included focus group interviews and a content or thematic analysis of the transcripts. Results suggest that participating in parent education can increase (a) knowledge of AS; (b) social support; and (c) parenting self-efficacy. No changes were observed on the quantitative measures in the intensity of the children's behavior problems or parenting stress. Despite these mixed quantitative results participants overwhelmingly shared positive responses to the workshop during the focus group interview. While overall the findings support the efficacy of parent education with parents of children with AS, additional research is necessary as this study had a small sample size and no comparison group. The full curriculum is provided to assist in planning future research and clinical endeavors.