Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


47th Annual Convention; Online; 2021

All times listed are Eastern time (GMT-4 at the time of the convention in May).

Event Details

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B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper Session #479
Improving Observed Parenting and Enhancing Well-Being in Parents of Young Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Monday, May 31, 2021
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Area: DEV
Chair: Jessica Singer-Dudek (Teachers College, Columbia University)
CE Instructor: Jessica Singer-Dudek, Ph.D.
Presenting Author: MARLA BRASSARD (Teachers College, Columbia University)

Research has shown that parents of children with ASD are among the most stressed as compared to all other parents, including those who have children with other psychiatric conditions and developmental disabilities (Hayes & Watson, 2013). Parents of children with ASD are chronically stressed because the demands of the family environment often exceed the parent’s ability to cope. There are few evidence-based interventions available for professionals to use with parents of a child with ASD: some use cognitive therapies, such as meditation, some use social support to reduce stress and mental health problems, and others use implement parent training to improve child behavior. Few if any combine both mental health and behavioral approaches, and none of these are designed for implementation by school personnel. This presentation describes findings from a multi-year transdisciplinary investigation into the most common stressors for parents of preschool children with ASD attending a CABAS® model school. Specifically, in two studies we surveyed parents to determine their reported levels of stress and common stressors, as well as parents’ mental and physical wellbeing, self-care, and self-efficacy skills. In the first study we also examined mother-child interactions during free-play and demand situations in order to determine possible target behaviors for intervention. Implications of the findings and suggestions for interventions will be discussed.

Target Audience:

Those interested in parent education and interventions to help parents cope with the stresses of parenting a child with ASD. These may include practitioners, educators, researchers, or parents themselves.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe the evidence as to whether a child’s negative behaviors are manipulative (and thus should be ignored) OR important signals of a child’s needs (and thus should be attended to); (2) describe how child characteristics (e.g., temperament, verbal behavior developmental level, rate of learning in the ABA school, co-morbid diagnoses, severity of ASD) relate to the quality of observed parenting and the implications of these findings for interventions; (3) describe the stressors and mental health of mothers and fathers and the implications for intervention; (4) list the self-care practices that are related to lower stress and better observed quality of parenting.
MARLA BRASSARD (Teachers College, Columbia University)
Marla R. Brassard, Ph.D., is a Professor in the School Psychology Program at Teachers College, Columbia University. For 37 years her research has focused on parenting, especially psychological maltreatment (PM) of children by parents, a non-physical form of abuse and neglect, that research shows is the equivalent in adverse causal impact to other forms of maltreatment and the most related to depression and suicidal behavior. Recently her work has expanded to include parenting in other high stress contexts, specifically parenting a young child with autistic spectrum disorder, with a focus on interventions that enhance parental wellbeing and increase quality of parenting. She is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and past president of the Council of Directors of School Psychology Programs.



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