Exploring the factors related to parent involvement in the interventions of their children with autism

This thesis explores the factors of parental involvement in the behavioral interventions of children with autism. Parental involvement in behavioral intervention is crucial to child success. Urie Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model suggests there are environmental factors that influence child development. A child’s development can be affected when individuals with the most influence and who are closest to the child are affected by environmental or societal factors. It is important for therapy professionals and social workers to understand these factors so they can provide parents with the necessary support to assure successful development and learning of the child. This study was conducted in Sacramento, California. The participants were recruited through a local resource center called WarmLine, which provides support to families with children who have special needs. A parent questionnaire was distributed to participants using an online survey system. Participation was anonymous and voluntary. Fifteen parents of children with autism between the ages of three to five who were receiving behavioral intervention participated in this study. Participants indicated the major factors that made it easier for them to be involved included: financial resources, frequent communication with providers, support from family and friends, and the initiative of staff to provide parents with information regarding interventions and resources. Involvement is potentially more difficult when those needs are not met. The results of parental involvement found in this study cannot be applied to the particular population at large because the participants were already receiving services from this resource center, and because most of the participants indicated a significant level of involvement already. However, the results are significant nonetheless because they help to inform professionals who work with this population of the potential challenges and strengths parents can have and to help the professionals build on them to encourage parental involvement. Recommendations for future research are to collect a larger number of responses and explore the effect of utilization of resource centers on parental involvement in interventions of their children with autism.