Open Feasibility Study: Navigator ACT for Parents to Children of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and/or Other Disabilities

Poster Presentation
Saturday, May 12, 2018: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Hall Grote Zaal (de Doelen ICC Rotterdam)
T. Holmberg Bergman1, B. Berg2 and T. Hirvikoski3, (1)Center of Neurodevelopmental Disorders at Karolinska Institutet (KIND), Stockholm, Sweden, (2)Stockholm County Council Habilitation and Health, Stockholm, Sweden, (3)Habilitation & Health, Stockholm County Council, Stockholm, Sweden

Parents of children with disabilities, especially Autism Spectrum Disorders, report psychological distress, e.g., depression, anxiety and parenting stress (e.g., Mak & Kwok, 2010, Hayes & Watson, 2013). While psychological problems of these parents have gained attention, a little is done to investigate the usefulness and affectiveness of the treatments available. However, Acceptance- and Commitment Therapy (ACT) have shown promising results in a few open pilot studies (e.g. Blackledge & Hayes, 2006; Kowalskovski, 2012). At Habilitation & Health (disability service clinics in Stockholm, Sweden), ACT has been used since 2007 as part of parent support services. During the recent years, a manual-based ACT group intervention “Navigator ACT” was developed to enhance psychological well-being of these parents.


An open study was conducted to evaluate the feasibility, parent satisfaction and preliminary efficacy of the 5-session “Navigator ACT” for parents to children with ASD and/or other disabilities. The following research questions were considered: 1. Is the Navigator ACT a feasible treatment method in an out-patient clinical disability services context? 2. Are parents satisfied with the intervention? 3. Is the Navigator ACT (preliminary) an effective method in increasing parental psychological/behavioral flexibility and mindfulness skills as well in reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety and parenting stress. Furthermore, a possible effect on behavioral problems of the child with disability was investigated.


The open feasibility study was conducted at 7 outpatient disability service clinics in Sweden. A total of 94 parents were allocated to treatment. The feasibility criteria was defined as 75 % of the parents participating in at least 4/5 sessions. Parent satisfaction was measured by session- and treatment evaluations as well as evaluation of treatment credibility. For preliminary efficacy measures, pre, post and 3-month follow-up was conducted by using several self-rating questionnaires concerning e.g., symptoms of depression and anxiety, parenting stress and behavioral flexibility.

Results: 80 % of the parents attended at least 4/5 sessions. Treatment satisfaction was good and stable over the five sessions. The preliminary efficacy measures showed statistically significant increases in psychological/behavioral flexibility and mindfulness as well as reductions in symptoms of depression and anxiety.


The Navigator ACT was a feasible intervention in a clinical disability service context. Navigator ACT shows promising preliminary efficacy regarding psychological flexibility and well-being of parents to children with ASD and/or other disabilities. We are currently preparing for a pragmatic multi-center randomized controlled trial concerning Navigator ACT.