Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 877–887 | Cite as

Social Validity of a Training and Coaching Program for Parents of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder on a Waiting List for Early Behavioral Intervention

  • Mélina RivardEmail author
  • Marjorie Morin
  • Céline Mercier
  • Amélie Terroux
  • Catherine Mello
  • Anabel Lépine
Original Paper


Due to limited public resources, many children with autism spectrum disorder and their families must wait several months, if not years, to access early behavioral intervention (EBI) services. Service providers must thus develop alternative support models to assist families placed on waiting lists. The present study assessed the social validity of one such initiative, a training and coaching program for parents whose children had been put on a waiting list for EBI services. This program consisted of group training sessions on strategies to cope with their child’s disorder based on applied behavioral analysis and on one-hour, weekly follow-up meetings to support parents’ interventions with their child over the course of 12 months. Social validity was assessed through parental satisfaction with this program and their perception of its effects on themselves, the family, the child, and parental stress. The 94 participants were generally satisfied with the program overall, although they wished for more frequent and intensive interventions. They reported that the program had positive effects on their psychological well-being, their family’s quality of life, and their child’s behavior. However, parenting stress levels were found to have increased over the 12-month period. These results demonstrate that training and individually supporting parents can be beneficial for families of children with ASD who cannot have access to early behavioral intervention immediately upon receiving a diagnosis. Importantly, however, these lower-cost, parent-focused programs cannot be considered a substitute for more intensive and children-driven services.


Autism spectrum disorder Early intervention Parental training Public services Social validity 



The authors would like to thank all the research assistants who contributed to data collection. The authors also wish to thank the Centre de réadaptation en déficience intellectuelle et en troubles envahissant du développement Montérégie-Est (CRDITEDME), Sylvie Gladu, Gilles Lemaire, Caroline Bouffard, Annick LeBeau, Johanne Messier, Johanne Gauthier, and Sophie Poirier for their collaboration, as well as all the families who participated in the present study.


This work was supported by grants by the Montérégie Health Agency and the Québec Ministry of Health and Social Services to Céline Mercier and Mélina Rivard. Céline Mercier and Amélie Terroux were under contract with the participating rehabilitation center at the time of the study.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mélina Rivard
    • 1
  • Marjorie Morin
    • 2
  • Céline Mercier
    • 3
  • Amélie Terroux
    • 2
    • 4
  • Catherine Mello
    • 5
  • Anabel Lépine
    • 2
  1. 1.Université du Québec à MontréalMontréalCanada
  2. 2.Université du Québec à MontréalMontréalCanada
  3. 3.Université de MontréalMontréalCanada
  4. 4.Centre de réadaptation en déficience intellectuelle et trouble envahissant du développement de la Montérégie-EstLongueilCanada
  5. 5.The Pennsylvania State University–BerksReadingUSA

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