Introducing ‘Predictive Parenting’: A Feasibility Study of a New Group Parenting Intervention Targeting Emotional and Behavioral Difficulties in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Abstract

Parent-mediated interventions can reduce behavioral and emotional problems in children with ASD. This report discusses the development of the first group parent intervention targeting behaviors and anxiety in children with ASD, across the spectrum of cognitive and language ability. ‘Predictive Parenting’ was developed from the clinical observation (and emerging evidence base) that children with ASD struggle with ‘prediction’ and anticipating change. It integrates well-established parenting strategies within an ASD-specific framework. The concept was co-created with patient and public involvement panels of parents and adults with ASD. A feasibility study found the programme is acceptable and accessible. Qualitative feedback from participants was largely positive, and critiques were used to inform a larger, pilot randomized controlled trial of the intervention.

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Acknowledgments

We are grateful to all parents who participated in the current study and to the parents and autistic adults who took part in our PPI panels. We acknowledge the valuable contribution of the ASTAR research team, including Dr. Melanie Palmer, Dr. Joanne Tarver and Dr. Juan Perez for the recruitment and assessment of ASTAR participants. Local clinicians supported significantly with recruitment and offering space for the groups, including Dr. Fernando Salazar, Dr. Susanna Cole, Dr. Sue Goode, Dr. Shade Alu, Dr. Mark O’Leary, Dr. Narad Methura, Marion Drennan, Jackie Sutherland and Sarran Bond. Our thanks go to staff at Drumbeat school, particularly Marie Neave and Hannah Robinson.

Funding

This research was funded by National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) under its Program Grants for Applied Research program (RP-PG-1211-20016). ES and AP additionally receive support from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre at South London and Maudsley Foundation Trust (IS-BRC-1215-20018) and the NIHR through Senior Investigator Awards (NF-SI-0514-10073; NF-SI-0617-10120). The views expressed in this presentation are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health. Additional funding for intervention materials was received from the Maudsley Charity (1157).

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All authors contributed to the conception and design of the feasibility study and/or the Predictive Parenting programme. Funding for the project was obtained by ES, TC, AP, BB, SS and VS. The therapy team (VH, JM, LB, MH) took a lead in the development of the group materials and group facilitation. The first draft of the manuscript was written by Dr Victoria Hallett, Dr Joanne Mueller and Dr Lauren Breese. All authors commented on early versions of the manuscript and read and approved the final submission.

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Correspondence to Victoria Hallett.

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AP declares that he receives royalties from WPS for the Social Communication Questionnaire.

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Ethical approval was granted from NHS Camden and Kings Cross Research Ethics Committee (ref: 16/LO/1769) along with NHS R&D permission from South London and Maudsley, Guy's and St Thomas', and Croydon Health Services NHS Trusts. The findings will be disseminated through publication in peer-reviewed journals and presentations at conferences.

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Hallett, V., Mueller, J., Breese, L. et al. Introducing ‘Predictive Parenting’: A Feasibility Study of a New Group Parenting Intervention Targeting Emotional and Behavioral Difficulties in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord 51, 323–333 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-020-04442-2

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Keywords

  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Parenting
  • Behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Intervention