Transitioning Together: A Multi-family Group Psychoeducation Program for Adolescents with ASD and Their Parents
Currently there are few evidence-based programs available for families of individuals with ASD during the transition to adulthood. The present study provided a preliminary evaluation of a multi-family group psychoeducation intervention using a randomized waitlist control design (n = 41). Families in the intervention condition participated in Transitioning Together, an 8-week program designed to reduce family distress and improve social functioning for adolescents. Findings indicated significant improvements in parental depressive symptoms and problem solving from pre- to post-intervention for parents in the intervention condition but not for parents in the control condition. Social interactions also improved for youth in the intervention condition relative to controls. Parents reported satisfaction with the program and particularly valued the opportunity to interact with other families.
KeywordsAutism spectrum disorder Adolescence Multi-family group psychoeducation Transition
This research was supported by grants from Autism Speaks (Grant #7523; Smith, PI) and the National Institute on Aging (R01AG08768, Mailick, PI). We are extremely grateful to the families who participated in this study; without their generous support and commitment, our research would not be possible. We are also grateful for the support we received from the Waisman Center (U54 HD090256, Messing, PI), UW-Madison’s Clinical and Translational Science Award Program for community intervention research (supported in part by grant U21 RR025011) and the Autism Society of Southeastern Wisconsin.
All authors conceptualized the study and participated in its design and coordination. LSD performed the statistical analysis and drafted the manuscript. All authors read, edited, and approved the final manuscript.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional review board and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
- Abbeduto, L., Seltzer, M. M., Shattuck, P., Krauss, M. W., Orsmond, G., Murphy, M. M., & Floyd, F. (2004). Psycyhological well-being and coping in mothers of youths with autism, down syndrome, or fragile X syndrome. American Journal on Mental Retardation, 109(3), 237–254.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Abidin, R. R. (1997). Parenting stress index: A measure of the parent-child system. In C. P. Zalaquett, R. J. Wood (Eds.), Evaluating stress: A book of resources (pp. 277–291). Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Education.Google Scholar
- Barker, E. T., Hartley, S. L., Seltzer, M. M., Floyd, F. J., Greenberg, J. S., & Orsmond, G. I. (2010). Trajectories of emotional well-being in mothers of adolescents and adults with autism. Developmental Psychology, 47(2), 551–561.Google Scholar
- Barker, E. T., Seltzer, M. M., & Smith, L. E. (2013). Chronic parenting stress in mothers of adolescents and adults with autism: Vulnerability and resilience. In C. R. Martin, V. R. Preedy & V. B. Patel (Eds.), The comprehensive guide to autism. London: Springer.Google Scholar
- Bengtson, V. L., & Schrader, S. S. (1982). Parent–child relationship. In D. J. Mangon & W. A. Peterson (Eds.), Research instruments in social gerontology (Vol. 2, pp. 115–185). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
- Bruininks, R., Woodcock, R., Weatherman, R., & Hill, B. (1996). Scales of independent behavior–revised comprehensive manual. Itasca, IL: Riverside Publishing.Google Scholar
- Borkowski, J. G., Akai, C. E., & Smith, L. E. (2006). The art and science of prevention: Characteristics of effective prevention. In J. G. Borkowski & C. M. Weaver (Eds.), The culture of prevention: Using science and art to promote healthy development (pp.55–82). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.Google Scholar
- Cohen, S., & Williamson, G. (1988). Perceived stress in a probability sample of the United States. In S. Spacapan & S. Oskamp (Eds.), The social psychology of health: Claremont Symposium on applied social psychology. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Constantino, J. N., Davis, S. A., Todd, R. D., Schindler, M. K., Gross, M. M., Brophy, S. L., et al. (2003). Validation of a brief quantitative measure of autistic traits: Comparison of the Social Responsiveness Scale with the autism diagnostic interview-revised. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 33, 427–433.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Esbensen, A. J., Bishop, S. L., Seltzer, M. M., Greenberg, J. S., & Taylor, J. L. (2010). Comparisons between individuals with autism spectrum disorders and individuals with Down syndrome in adulthood. American Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 115(4), 277–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hayes, S. A., & Watson, S. L. (2013). The impact of parenting stress: A meta-analysis of studies comparing the experience of parenting stress in parents of children with and without an autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 43, 629–642. doi: 10.1007/s10803-012-1604-y.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Konstantareas, M. M., Homatidis, S., & Plowright, C. M. (1992). Assessing resources and stress in parents of severely dysfunctional children through the Clarke modification of Holroyd’s questionnaire on resources and stress. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 22, 217–234.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Kuhn, J., Borjas, S., & Smith, L. (2015). Cultural and linguistic adaptation of an education and support program for families with adolescents with autism. Poster presented at the 2015 Association of University Centers on Disability Annual Conference, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
- McFarlane, W. R. (2002). Multifamily groups in the treatment of severe psychiatric disorders. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Orsmond, G. I., & Seltzer, M. M. (2009). Adolescent siblings of individuals with an autism spectrum disorder: Testing a diathesis-stress model of sibling well-being. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 39(7), 1053–1065. doi: 10.1007/s10803-009-0722-7.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Rutter, M., Bailey, A., & Lord, C. (2003). Social communication questionnaire (SCQ). Los Angeles: Western Psychological Services.Google Scholar
- Sanford, M., Boyle, M., McClearly, L., Miller, J., Steele, M., Duku, E., et al. (2006). A pilot study of adjunctive family psychoeducation in adolescent major depression: Feasibility and treatment effect. Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 45, 386–395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Seltzer, M. M., Greenberg, J. S., Hong, J., Smith, L. E., Almeida, D. M., Coe, C., & Stawski, R. S. (2010). Maternal cortisol levels and child behavior problems in families of adolescents and adults with ASD. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40, 457–469.Google Scholar
- Shattuck, P. T., Seltzer, M. M., Greenberg, J. S., Orsmond, G. I., Bolt, D., Kring, S., et al. (2007). Change in autism symptoms and maladaptive behaviors in adolescents and adults with an autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 13, 129–135.Google Scholar
- Singer, G. H. S., Ethridge, B. L., & Aldana, S. I. (2007). Primary and secondary effects of parenting and stress management interventions for parents of children with developmental disabilities: A meta-analysis. Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews, 13, 357–369.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Smith, L. E., Greenberg, J. S., & Mailick, M. R. (2012a). Adults with autism: Outcomes, family effects, and the multi-family group psychoeducation model. Current Psychiatry Reports, 14, 732–738.Google Scholar
- Smith, L. E., Greenberg, J. S., & Mailick, M. R. (2014). The family context of autism spectrum disorders: Influence on the behavioral phenotype and quality of life. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 23, 145–155.Google Scholar
- Taylor, J. L., & Mailick, M. R. (2014). A longitudinal examination of 10-year change in vocational and educational activities for adults with autism spectrum disorders, 50, 699–708. Developmental Psychology. doi: 10.1037/a0034297.
- Woodman, A. C., Smith, L. E., Greenberg, J. S., & Mailick, M. R. (2016). Contextual factors predict patterns of change in functioning over 10 years among adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 46, 176–189.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar