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Brief Report: Preliminary Outcomes of a Peer Counselling Program for Parents of Children with Autism in the South Asian Community

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Abstract

Peer volunteers have been found to be effective in delivering psychosocial interventions when they come from the same culture and share similar experiences as participants. We examined the clinical utility (feasibility and preliminary effectiveness) of a community-based, manualized, peer-delivered group counselling program to address the need for culturally responsive counselling for parents of children with autism in the South Asian community. Sixty-three parents (Mage = 43.7 years, 68% mothers) participated in the program, and reported high stable program satisfaction across sessions. Further, parents reported improved mental health and quality of life following involvement in the program, with changes noted even after the first session. Further research is warranted to assess the efficacy of this kind of parent support intervention.

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Acknowledgments

The authors wish to thank the parents who participated in this research, as well as the peer volunteers at the SAAAC Autism Centre who facilitated the CARES Program.

Funding

This work was supported by a LaMarsh Centre for Child and Youth Research Graduate Student Award to Ann S. Mills, and a York University Research Chair in Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disability Mental Health to Jonathan A. Weiss.

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Authors

Contributions

AM and JW were responsible for data entry, analysis, and manuscript preparation. KV, SS, and NS developed the intervention, collected the data, and assisted in manuscript preparation.

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Correspondence to Jonathan A. Weiss.

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Conflicts of interest

KV, SS, and NS were SAAAC team members who developed the intervention. AM and JW have no conflicts of interest.

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Mills, A.S., Vimalakanthan, K., Sivapalan, S. et al. Brief Report: Preliminary Outcomes of a Peer Counselling Program for Parents of Children with Autism in the South Asian Community. J Autism Dev Disord 51, 334–340 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-020-04538-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-020-04538-9

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