Parent Perspectives of a Parent-Teacher Communication App after Use in a Classroom for Preschoolers with ASD
Communication between families of children with ASD and their school remains understudied. Parent participation in their child’s education improves skill maintenance and generalization, but parents of children with ASD are more dissatisfied with the level of communication with their child’s school versus parents of TD children (Moes and Frea, 2002; Zablotsky, 2012). Parent support remains the lowest level of implementation of the NRC recommendations for autism research (Tincani et al., 2013).
Telehealth approaches to intervention are a promising but remain nonexistent for parent communication (Vismara, 2013). An app was used to track positive behavior, but has not been examined for communication between parents of children with ASD and their child’s service team (Jordan, 2016). Electronic communication is investigated in other health fields, but not in autism intervention (Eysenbach, 2004).
To explore how parents of children with ASD perceive using an app to communicate with their child’s preschool team.
Parents completed a questionnaire describing their experience using a cellphone communication app. The app, part of a 4-week long preschool program for 11 students aged 42-86 months with ASD, was used by the classroom team to communicate with parents.
1 teacher and 6 aides posted updates on the app. Updates appear like a social media feed, with accounts for each individual student and one account for the classroom as a whole. Each parent has access to the classroom’s and their student’s account. Posts give updates of the day and include videos, images, and written private messages. Over the course of the program, 608 posts were shared with parents, with an average total of 40.09 posts per student and an average of 2.22 posts per student per day. Posts per student ranged from an average of 1 to 4.7 per day.
12 parents of the 11 students were emailed, and 9 completed, a questionnaire at the end of the program. It consisted of six open-ended questions about how frequently parents used the app, whether they had previously used a similar method of communication, and their perceptions of using the app.
Parents rated their experience using the app favorably. All parents checked the app at least daily, with 44.4% checking it 1-2 times per day and 55.6% checking it over 3 times per day. None had used a communication app previously with their child’s team. All 9 reported positive feelings toward using the app. All 9 parents reported feeling more connected to the classroom as a result of using the app. 8 of the 9 parents reported that their favorite part of the app was the picture updates, with others commenting that the app let them be part of their child’s day and gave up-to-date information about the day’s events.
Parents checked their child’s activities daily, reported enjoying the app, and feeling connected to their child’s classroom, given a high frequency of app use. The next step is to incorporate the app as part of a controlled examination, with particular attention to the potential to reduce parent anxiety.
See more of: Interventions - Non-pharmacologic - Preschool & Infant