Date of Award

Fall 1-5-2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Daniel Crimmins

Second Advisor

Dr. Emily Graybill

Abstract

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are characterized by difficulty in communication and social interaction, and repetition of behaviors, requiring focused intervention efforts over time. Research has supported the role of parents as intervention agents in improving their children’s behavior, but relatively little of this research has been conducted in the home. This study examined the effectiveness of an in-home intervention of five two-hour sessions combining positive behavior supports (PBS) with the provision of visual supports (VS). The Positive Behavior Visual Support (PBVS) curriculum was developed by the Center for Leadership in Disability at Georgia State University and was previously implemented with both individual in-home and group delivery. In the present study, we wanted to examine more closely the session-by-session acquisition of parental skills using the PBVS curriculum. A single-subject multiple baseline design was used with one family, and partially replicated with a second, to document whether parent training on PBS increased the use of specific skills and whether that, in turn, had an effect on child problem behaviors. We hypothesized that the parents who participated in the PBVS study would increase their use of the positive behavior approaches, which would be accompanied by a decrease in one or more of their children’s targeted challenging behaviors. We looked at five positive behavior parenting skills, as well as child behaviors, during parent-child interaction sessions. We also predicted that parents would report a decrease in stress and an increase in knowledge and self-efficacy. One family withdrew from the study after three sessions so no follow-up was available. Results from the multiple baseline failed to support the predicted outcomes as both parent and child behaviors were quite variable from session to session. This family did demonstrate enhanced self-efficacy and parenting knowledge following the training. The brief time frame (only five sessions), paired with the relative long in-session time spent on parenting strategies (approximately 90 minutes per session), and that the data collection occurred in the first 15 minutes of the session (no time for warm-up or reminders) may have mitigated finding more specific session-by-session changes in behavior.

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