The Effect of Parental Involvement in Preschool-Based Intervention on Parent-Teacher Agreement Regarding the Adaptive Skills of Children with ASD

Poster Presentation
Thursday, May 10, 2018: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Hall Grote Zaal (de Doelen ICC Rotterdam)


Background: Multi-informants' ratings of developmental and adaptive functioning form an essential tool in assessing children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Together, they provide an updated developmental profile of the child, essential for classification and treatment planning (McDonald et al., 2015; Klin et al., 2006). However, previous studies adressing parent-teacher agreement on children’s adaptive skills, have revealed significant discrepancies between raters, when teachers’ ratings were usually higher than parents’ (Murray et al., 2009; Achenbach, 2011; McDonald, et al., 2016). Such disagreement between parent and teacher ratings on the functioning of children with ASD may present a challenge to both assessment and intevention planning.

Objectives: In the current study we examined whether parent-teacher agreement on the child’s adaptive functioning improves when parents join a preschool-based intervention program for children with ASD. The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) was integrated into the therapeutic program of Israeli preschools for children with ASD. Since parents play a key role in the ESDM (Rogers et al., 2012) and in order to facilitate generalization, parents joined the preschool-based program for weekly parent-child therapy sessions. Since research on the ESDM has shown strong working alliance between parents and therapists (Rogers et al., 2012), we hypothesized that the agreement between parents’ and teachers' reports on child adaptive functioning will improve following this intervention.

Methods: Thirty-two children (7 girls), aged 34-58 months, from four ASD preschools in which ESDM was integrated, participated in the current study. All children received 40 hours of intervention from educators and para-professionals. Parents attended weekly parent-child therapy sessions. Teachers and parents reported on children’s adaptive functioning using the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales (VABS-II) pre- and post- 8 months of intervention (at the beginning and end of the school year). Parent-Teacher discrepancies were assessed by comparing the standard scores.

Results: Before the intervention, significant parent-teacher discrepancies have been found, with parents rating their child higher on areas of receptive language, expressive language, and community and coping skills. Post-intervention, parent-teacher discrepancies on those areas became non-significant. However, in the area of interpersonal relationships, parents rated their children significantly higher than teachers in both pre- and post- intervention assessmants, elbait with smaller discrepancy post-intervention. In the area of play and leisure time skills parents also rated their child significanly higher than teachers, however, their reports were even higher post-intervention and the inter-rater discrepancy increased.

Conclusions: Results indicate that parental involvement in preschool-based ESDM intervention impacted on descrepencies between parents and teachers perceptions of the childs’ adaptive functioning. Whereas teacher-parent agreement improved in areas of language, daily living skills and social skills, discrepancies in the area of play and leisure increased. This difference may be attributed to the new play skills provided to parents in the ESDM program, gaining increased play and leisure functioning at home that may have yielded new experiences bewtween parents and their children and higher parent ratings of their child’s play skills post treatment.