An Examination of the Social Validity of Jumpstart, an Education and Training Program for Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Thursday, May 11, 2017: 12:00 PM-1:40 PM
Golden Gate Ballroom (Marriott Marquis Hotel)
J. A. Muhlenkamp1, K. Hale1, R. Tewksbury1, S. Zwicker1, A. Gonzales1, B. C. Orr2, B. Harris1, N. L. Matthews1 and C. J. Smith1, (1)Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center, Phoenix, AZ, (2)Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC), Phoenix, AZ
Background:  JumpStart is a short-term education program for parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Previous research has documented objective parent and child outcomes, including increased parent knowledge, parent fidelity of implementation of pivotal response treatment (PRT), child responsivity, and reduced child aberrant behavior (Matthews et al., under review). Social validity of the program remains unexamined.

Objectives:  To examine social validity of JumpStart by comparing changes in parent perceptions of their own knowledge between treatment and delayed treatment control (DTC) groups.

Methods:  Participants were 25 parents of children recruited from the JumpStart waitlist who were enrolled in the treatment (n = 12; 0 fathers; child Mage = 37.92 months, SD = 9.34) or DTC (n = 13; 1 father; child Mage = 40.00 months, SD = 12.54) group. Children had an ASD diagnosis (n = 21) or an ‘at-risk for autism’ (n = 4) classification.

JumpStart meets twice weekly over a 4-week period (weeks 2-5). At a study visit 6 weeks prior to the program (DTC group only), orientation (week 1), and a 1-week follow-up (week 6), parents completed a 17-item questionnaire (Table 1) that asked parents to rate their perceived knowledge of topics covered during JumpStart using a Likert scale ranging from “strongly disagree” (1) to “strongly agree” (7).


Descriptive statistics are reported in Table 1. Separate 2 (group) x 2 (time point) ANOVAs were conducted (adjusted alpha of .002 used to account for multiple comparisons). There were significant group by time interactions on items assessing parents perceived knowledge of ASD (p < .001), applied behavior analysis (p < .001), PRT (p < .001), and perceived ability to implement PRT (p < .001) and respond appropriately to their child’s disruptive behaviors (p = .002). On all items, the treatment group demonstrated larger gains than the DTC group. Following a similar pattern, but only approaching statistical significance, were parents’ perceived ability to prevent disruptive behaviors (p = .04), knowledge of autism-related services funded by the state (p = .01), understanding of services covered by health insurance (p = .09), understanding of parents’ roles in creating and revising IEPs (p = .02), ability to arrange an appropriate educational placement (p = .004) and special education services (p = .004), and ability to toilet train their child (p = .03).

Conclusions:  Arguably as important as objective outcomes are parent perceptions of the knowledge and skills gained during JumpStart. Parents in the treatment group reported gains compared to the DTC group on a number of topics. Perhaps most important to consider are the items on which groups did not demonstrate differences, suggesting that parents who complete JumpStart are not perceiving increased knowledge in these areas compared to controls. The treatment group did not differ from the DTC group in changes in perceived understanding of the causes of their child’s behavior, understanding of the Arizona Long Term Care System, ability to obtain appropriate state-funded services, and understanding of/satisfaction with their child’s IEP. Implications of these findings and future directions will be discussed.