Pilot Data Findings: Connections between Low-Resource Parents of Children with ASD and School Providers Pre- and Post-Transitions between Schools
Objectives: Use descriptive whole social network methods to investigate communication exchanges about transition between parents, school staff and healthcare providers pre to post transition.
Methods: Participants were parents and key family, school and healthcare providers for 6 children with ASD transitioning to a new school and in families with incomes below the federal poverty line. We created a team roster of providers for each child, using a snowball recruitment process 6 weeks before transition (average enrollment of 8 key people per team) and at 3 months post transition (average enrollment of 12 key people). We interviewed key participants at each time using the SoDI: The Social Dynamics of Intervention Measure, where each participant identified the frequency with which they sought out people on the roster to discuss the child’s transition. Using ORA (Carley et al 2004), we computed the density of each transition network (actual connections divided by total possible connections). To better understand how parents engaged in transition discussions, we computed parent in-degree (the # of other team members who sought out the parent to discuss transition) and parent out-degree (the # of people who the parent sought out to discuss transition) and parent eigenvector centrality (the degree to which parents were connected to other well connected team members). These measures allow us to systematically summarize parent engagement in transition networks and changes in engagement over time.
Results: During pre-transition, parents identified more key providers (M=58%) than during post transition (M= 23%). When comparing team composition by role type, the overall % of family members remains constant across transition, while the % of community providers decreases. Almost no staff from the receiving school are present during pre-transition (M= 1%), while a small, but significant number of sending school staff remain engaged post transition (M=17%). The average % of district providers decreases during post-transition (Table 1). Whole social network analysis indicated that the mean density of transition support decreased from pre to post transition (pre M=.29 / post M=.12). Mean parent in-degree and out-degree decreased post transition but mean eigenvector remained constant (Figure 1). Figure 1 Key: The green colored circles are people the parent identified as key supporters. The red circles are people who the parent did not identify.
Conclusions: On average, parents were more disconnected at post-transition. While no comparison data exist to determine optimal density of transition networks, data from this study suggest that low-resource families may require more support post-transition to maintain connections.