Date of Award

11-1-2019

Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Marcia Gragg

Keywords

acceptance and commitment therapy, autism spectrum disorder, treatment selection

Rights

info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Abstract

In the present study, the benefits of integrating acceptance and commitment training (ACT) into an educational workshop for parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) were investigated. A sample of 23 parents (18 mothers and 5 fathers) of children with ASD aged 4 to 26 years were randomly assigned to participate in either the ACT workshop (i.e., treatmentrelated information supplemented with ACT) or the Support workshop (i.e., treatment-related information with supplemented general parent support). Parents’ knowledge of ASD treatment selection, acceptance of ASD-related thoughts and emotions, ASD-related cognitive fusion, and willingness to select evidence-based treatments were measured at preworkshop, postworkshop, and three-month follow-up time points. Parents’ feedback regarding their experiences was also gathered via open-ended items embedded within questionnaires completed by participants at postworkshop and follow-up. Repeated measures analyses of variance revealed increases in treatment selection knowledge from preworkshop to postworkshop for both groups and these gains were maintained at follow-up. Trajectories of change in parents’ acceptance and cognitive fusion differed significantly by group over time, with ACT workshop participants showing increases in acceptance and decreases in cognitive fusion over time. However, the differences in acceptance and cognitive fusion between groups failed to reach statistical significance at postworkshop and follow-up time points. Unexpectedly, participants’ willingness to select evidence-based treatments decreased over time in both groups. Although acceptance and cognitive fusion were not found to moderate the relation between participants’ treatment selection knowledge and their willingness to select evidence-based treatments, evidence for a positive relation between increases in parents’ acceptance from postworkshop to follow-up and their willingness to select evidence-based treatments at follow-up was found. Participants in both groups identified treatment information as the most important thing they learned in the workshop. Support workshop participants revealed that they most liked the treatment information, while ACT workshop participants revealed that they most liked the ACT-specific content. Participant satisfaction ratings were high for both workshops and participants reported feeling more knowledgeable and confident in their ability to effectively select treatments for their children at follow-up. Results of the study demonstrate the feasibility of incorporating ACT into educational community workshops for parents of children with ASD. Although neither workshop was associated with increased willingness to select evidence-based treatments, increases in treatment selection knowledge were observed in both groups, with preliminary support for additional benefits of increased acceptance and decreased cognitive fusion in the ACT workshop group. Further implications are discussed, as well as strengths and limitations of the present study and suggestions for future research.

Share

COinS