Share

Exploring Virtual Group Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Format on Participation of Parents of Children with Autism

August 22, 2023 - April 1, 2024

Parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience higher rates of anxiety, depression, and poor overall well-being, particularly when their child engages in challenging behavior, (e.g., aggression, self-injury, property destruction). Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), which encourages psychological flexibility and attending to the present moment, is an effective intervention for addressing well-being in parents of children with ASD when presented in various formats. Virtual group ACT can increase accessibility and improve social connectedness for parents. However, recent literature suggests that the time commitment may impact parents’ participation in interventions focused on their well-being. The current study will examine parents’ participation in and perceived acceptability of 6 hours of virtual ACT groups when administered in three different formats: a 6-hour workshop, three 2-hour sessions, and six 1-hour sessions. Participants will include 36 parents of children with ASD and co- occurring challenging behavior randomized across nine groups (i.e., three groups of four participants per format). All participants will attend a virtual intake interview, receive 6 hours of ACT group intervention, and participate in two virtual individualized parent training sessions to learn and practice behavioral intervention techniques when faced with treatment challenges. Primary outcomes of feasibility and acceptability include parent participation and acceptability ratings. Secondary outcomes include change in psychological flexibility and well-being after participating in ACT groups and procedural fidelity when implementing the behavioral intervention. Findings can inform future research examining virtual ACT groups for parents delivered in conjunction with their child’s behavioral services by exploring which format may lead to higher parental engagement in an intervention to improve their well-being, which can ultimately improve outcomes for both parents and children.

What are the goals of the study?

By directly assessing parents of children with ASD’s format preferences and perspectives on how parental support activities could increase engagement, we can better inform future iterations of the virtual ACT group intervention to best meet the needs of this population. Incorporating community voices into the development of interventions is associated with increased engagement and overall benefit; therefore, it is critical to assess the perspectives of parents of children with autism on components of parental support activities designed for them.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Participants will be asked to participate in a virtual intake interview (~1 hour), 6 hours of the virtual ACT group intervention, and 2 hours of virtual parent training to support parents in addressing their child’s challenging behavior. Participants will be asked to identify another adult to assist with the virtual parent training sessions.

How will this help families?

In addition to directly addressing parent participants’ well-being and providing parents with individualized behavioral intervention strategies, outcomes have significant practical implications for mediating positive treatment outcomes for children with autism and co-occurring challenging behavior. Given that children are part of a family system and are affected by the functioning of that system, it is critical to address the well-being of family members when attempting to improve outcomes for autistic children. Further, challenging behavior and parental stress often have a bi-directional relationship, such that increased parental stress can also increase the frequency and intensity of challenging behavior. Thus, even if the child’s challenging behavior is reduced in behavioral treatment, high parental stress may decrease the treatment’s effectiveness. Though parents of children with autism tend to have significantly higher stress levels than parents of typically developing children, few intervention programs for children with autism specifically address parental well- being. As such, outcomes of this study addressing parental well-being through a virtual group ACT intervention can increase practitioners’ knowledge of the importance of addressing parental well-being as part of a child’s behavioral treatment to improve outcomes for both the child and the overall family system.

Eligibility Criteria

Individuals can participate if they:

  1. Are at least 18 years old.
  2. Are the parent of a child (aged 5-12) with autism who also engages in challenging behavior.
  3. Speak English.
  4. Have access to a device with video and audio capabilities.
  5. Can identify another adult to assist with participation.

View the study flyer here.

Contact Information

Abigail Moretti – morett94@rowan.edu

Research Study Website
SAFE Behavior Lab at Rowan University

More Research studies from this topic: Interventions

Autism Biomarkers Consortium for Clinical Trials
In-person participation required
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
In-person participation required
Generating Effectiveness Mechanisms in RUBI (GEMs in RUBI)
In-person participation required
A treatment for SETD5 subtype of autism
Fully remote/online
NEUROIMAGING PREDICTORS OF IMPROVEMENT TO PIVOTAL RESPONSE TREATMENT (PRT) IN YOUNG CHILDREN WITH AUTISM
In-person participation required
Center for Brain Disease Diagnosis at the NRI
Fully remote/online In-person participation required
Neural basis of social cognition in youth with ASD and psychosis
In-person participation required
Neurodevelopmental Sleep Study
In-person participation required
Exploring Mechanisms of Change in a Pilot Trial of the RUBI Program in Educational Settings
Fully remote/online
Autism face fMRI
In-person participation required
Autism Intervention Research Network on Behavioral Health
Fully remote/online
Simons Searchlight
Fully remote/online
The Autism Biomarkers Consortium for Clinical Trials: Confirmation Study
In-person participation required
Aging in Autism
In-person participation required
Pivotal Response Treatment for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
In-person participation required
Exploring Positive and Negative Dimensions in Autism Spectrum Disorders (EXPAND)
In-person participation required
Imaging Cognition and Neurodevelopment (ICAN)
In-person participation required
Infant-Caregiver Synchrony in Autism
In-person participation required
MRI Study for Prediction of ASD
In-person participation required
RARE-X Data Collection Program
Fully remote/online
Multimodal investigation of emotional reactivity as a predictor of later psychopathology in infants at risk for ASD
In-person participation required
The neuroanatomical basis for face processing deficits in autism spectrum disorder
In-person participation required
Family-Implemented Treatment for Behavioral Inflexibility (FITBI) Project
Fully remote/online
The Investigation of Genetics Exome Research (TIGER-3)
Fully remote/online In-person participation required
Assessing Functional Language Development via Telehealth
Fully remote/online
Supporting nonverbal communication priorities for adults on the autism spectrum
Fully remote/online
Shape in Healthcare Study
Fully remote/online
Sleep in Children with Autism
In-person participation required
Aging in Autism
In-person participation required
Test Elevation
Fully remote/online
Development of a support program for autistic adults and their families
Fully remote/online
Identification of Biomarkers in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) using Protein and Metabolite Profiling
In-person participation required
TARGETING THE NEUROBIOLOGY OF RESTRICTED AND REPETITIVE BEHAVIORS IN CHILDREN WITH AUTISM USING N-ACETYLCYSTEINE: RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL
In-person participation required
Work Chat Online
Fully remote/online
Family Collaboration on Video-Learning
Fully remote/online
Predicting Self-Care and Quality of Life in the Context of Parenting a Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Fully remote/online
Knowledge, Perceptions, and Use of Psychedelics among intellectually able adults with autism spectrum condition: An online survey.
Fully remote/online
Adult Autism Sensory Research – The Vanderbilt Sound Sensitivity Study
In-person participation required
RICART Adolescent to Young Adult Study (RAYS)
Fully remote/online In-person participation required
Video Mediated Education
In-person participation required
The Relationship Between Dyadic Coping and Couple Satisfaction for Parents with Autistic Children
Fully remote/online
Stress and Mental Health in Parents of Autistic and Gender Diverse Adolescents
Fully remote/online
Pilot and Try-Out of the Draft TPI
Fully remote/online
Autism Spectrum Disorder Parental Attitudes Survey
Fully remote/online
Boosting Engagement and Skill Acquisition through technology and personalization: A pilot trial of enhanced transdiagnostic behavioral therapy
Fully remote/online
The neural basis of third party social interaction perception in autism
In-person participation required
Parental Accommodation of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Fully remote/online
Therapy for Minimally Verbal Autistic Adults
In-person participation required
RISE
Fully remote/online