Pilot Test of an Intervention for Parents of Youth with ASD Focused on Life Skills and Preparing for Adulthood

Poster Presentation
Saturday, May 4, 2019: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Room: 710 (Palais des congres de Montreal)
A. V. Kirby1, K. J. Feldman2, M. Himle2, M. Diener2 and C. Wright2, (1)University of Utah College of Health, Salt Lake City, UT, (2)University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
Background: Adolescence is an important time for families of adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) planning and preparing for adulthood. Parents play an important role in the transition process, with evidence suggesting that parents’ expectations during adolescence are significant mediators of key outcomes for adults with ASD and that higher parent expectations and self-efficacy are associated with more positive post-secondary preparation activities (e.g., social activities, volunteer work/employment, parent-youth discussions about the future, working toward goals). There is a need for effective interventions to support the transition to adulthood for parents and youth with ASD. Maximizing Adolescent Post-Secondary Success (MAPSS) is a six-week intervention program developed by our research team to support transition preparation for parents and youth.

Objectives: To pilot test an intervention to provide support for parents of youth with ASD, focused on increasing positive post-secondary preparation activities and life skills by addressing parents’ expectations and self-efficacy related to preparing youth for adulthood.

Methods: Parent participants were required to be a caregiver of an adolescent (ages 14-18 years) with ASD in high school and anticipating receipt of a high school diploma. Some parents chose to attend with a spouse/co-parent. Upon completion, we collected participant feedback about the program. The primary outcome measure was the Transition Preparation Activities Measure (T-PAM; Kirby, n.d.), which includes ratings of preparedness for the transition to adulthood, worry about the future, and frequency of various transition preparation activities. Secondary measures included the Competency factor of the Family Empowerment Scale (Koren et al., 1992) and Adulthood Expectations Questionnaire (AEQ; Kirby, n.d.), all of which were administered at baseline and at program completion. Included measures have demonstrated acceptable internal consistency with this population. We summarized participant feedback and conducted paired t-tests to compare pre- and post-intervention ratings.

Results: At the time of submission, 14 families participated in the pilot study of the MAPSS; two additional groups will be completed prior to May 2019. 100% of participants remained in the program, however, 1 family did not complete post-intervention questionnaires within the necessary time frame. Participant feedback was positive (see Table 1). From pre- to post-intervention, parents’ reported levels of preparedness for their youth’s transition was significantly greater (t=-5.262, p<0.001) and their levels of worry related to their youth’s future was significantly lower (t=2.88, p<.05). Both parent and youth transition preparation activities significantly increased (t=-5.07, p<0.001 and t=-2.51, p<0.05, respectively). A slight, but not significant, increase was noted in parent self-efficacy (i.e., competency). We observed slight, but not significant, increases in parent expectations for adult outcomes; parent sense of control over those outcomes did significantly increase (t=-2.47, p<0.05).

Conclusions: Last year we presented proof-of-concept data on the MAPSS intervention and made improvements to the program based on participant feedback. To date, two new groups (14 families) have participated in the updated program, and we will run two additional groups prior to May 2019. Preliminary results suggest the MAPSS program is well-received by participants and is demonstrating statistically significant improvements on the primary outcome measure related to family transition preparation.