ABA Parent Trainings with Roots Autism Solutions

 In In Your Home

In the last couple of decades, parent education has emerged as an effective method of improving outcomes for both parents and their children with developmental disabilities such as Autism Spectrum Disorder. Prior to this discovery, many treatments for children with disabilities were primarily focused on care provided and guided solely by a clinician, but developments in research have highlighted the importance of educating parents as a means of involving them in their child’s treatment.

A study conducted by Lauren Brookman-Frazee (2004), a professor at the University of California in San Diego, assessed parent education techniques that incorporated two distinct conditions for comparison; the Partnership (P) condition, and the Clinician Directed condition. In the Partnership condition, the clinician worked to directly involve and educate the parents in the treatment of their children. Here, the clinician allowed the parents to participate in aspects of treatment and assessment including selection of problem behaviors to target with intervention and identification of opportunities for language development. Additionally, the clinician afforded the parents a choice in deciding the specific manner of implementation of therapeutic procedures, and educated them on the processes involved. In the Clinician-Directed (CD) condition, however, the clinician made all of these decisions independently. In the CD condition, the parents were not permitted to participate in the assessment process, and decisions were not explained with the same level of detail due to the lack of collaborative effort. Results indicated that those who formed a collaborative relationship with the clinician in the P condition were more likely to experience exceptional positive outcomes. Parents, especially mothers, experienced lower levels of stress and increased confidence as a result of the collaborative partnership. Additionally, children receiving treatment that was the result of a collaborative effort demonstrated more positive affect (higher levels of happiness and interest), higher responsiveness, and higher quality interactions with parents. The quality of outcomes was theorized by the researcher to be related to parents’ understanding of their children’s disorder and treatment plan. By increasing parental knowledge of what variables aid in motivating and engaging their children, the likelihood that children will be responsive and engaged is increased significantly. This study essentially indicates that parental education through collaborative efforts with a clinician improves both the likelihood and significance of positive outcomes for families with a child with ASD.

Parent education is paramount in ensuring continuous development and positive outcomes for children with significant developmental disabilities such as Autism. Although the study conducted by Brookman-Frazee (2004) is hardly the first or only study to indicate that parent education is important, it is successful in exemplifying the contrast in results between those who do and do not receive parental education. That being said, research that has been published even more recently has indicated that we can take an additional step in involving and collaborating with parents in the treatment of developmental disabilities.

A randomized clinical trial conducted by Bearss, Jonson and Smith (2015) suggests that parent training is substantially more beneficial than parent education. In the trial, researchers compared the outcomes of parent training to parent education at several university centers offering these services. In this study, parents in the Parent Education group were provided with information on youth with ASD, including information regarding assessment, development, education planning, advocacy, and treatment options. Essentially, the families in this condition participated in an educational course providing them with information about ASD and treatment options. This is similar to the study conducted by Brookman-Frazee (2004), where parents were instructed to collaborate in the assessment process in order to broaden their understanding of both their child’s disorder and treatment. In the Parent Training group, however, parents were given more comprehensive resources. Parents in this group were presented with a training manual that included scripts and instructions for therapists, and parents were taught the same techniques and methods that therapists implemented during treatment sessions. For example, during the first training session, parents were taught to identify the function of a problem behavior by identifying and developing an understanding of its antecedents (events preceding the behavior), in addition to the consequences for that behavior. Parents were also trained to develop skills such as prohibiting targeted problem behaviors, and providing positive reinforcement for desirable behavior. Ultimately, parents were taught to utilize the same methodologies as their behavioral therapists outside of sessions in an attempt to foster more efficient development and independence from clinical intervention. Results indicated that although both treatment groups yielded improvements, parent training was significantly more efficient in affecting parent ratings of disruptive and noncompliant behaviors. Children with behavioral struggles are most likely to benefit form parent training in managing these issues, and training programs were found to be superior to education in the reduction of disruptive or problematic behaviors.

Here at Roots Autism Solutions, we strive to incorporate the latest empirically supported therapeutic interventions and techniques in order to help children with autism and their families create balanced, peaceful homes. As a parent, your involvement is one of the largest factors in fostering your child’s development, and with parent training, we hope to incorporate both education and hands on training to provide you with the tools to participate and aid in the therapeutic process in pursuit of development and independence.


Brookman-Frazee, L. (2004). Using parent/clinician partnerships in parent education programs for       children with autism. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 6(4), 195-213. doi: unavailable.

Bearss, K., Johnson, C., Smith, T., Lecavalier, L., Swiezy, N., Aman, M., . . . Scahill, L. (2015). Effect of parent training vs parent education on behavioral problems in children with autism spectrum disorder. JAMA, 313(15), 1524-1533. doi: 10.1001/jama.2015.3150

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