Pilot Data Findings: Connections between Low-Resource Parents of Children with ASD and School Providers Pre- and Post-Transitions between Schools

Poster Presentation
Friday, May 11, 2018: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Hall Grote Zaal (de Doelen ICC Rotterdam)
E. McGhee Hassrick1, S. Iadarola2, C. Friedman1, Z. Shamsi3, J. Chiappe4, L. Hauptman5, B. Bronstein6, A. R. Fitzgerald7, K. M. Carley8, D. E. Linares9, A. C. Stahmer10, D. S. Mandell11, P. Mundy12, T. Smith2 and C. Kasari5, (1)Drexel University A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, Philadelphia, PA, (2)University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY, (3)Drexel University, Phialdelphia, PA, (4)University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, (5)University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, (6)University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, (7)Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, UC Davis Mind Institute, Sacramento, CA, (8)Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburg, PA, (9)Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Office of Epidemiology and Research, Health Resources and Services Administration, Rockville, MD, (10)Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of California at Davis MIND Institute, Sacramento, CA, (11)Center for Mental Health, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, (12)University of California at Davis, Sacramento, CA
Background: Coordination between low resourced parents of children with ASD and the school and healthcare professionals that serve them is particularly challenging during school transitions due to gaps in supports between schools (Boyd, McDowall, & Cooper, 2002) and decreased communication between teachers and parents at receiving schools (Podvey, Hinojosa, & Koenig, 2013). Understanding who parents rely on for information about transition and how parent connections with providers change during transition will better position us to improve school transitions for low resourced children with ASD.

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.