Feasibility of The Incredible Years Parent Program for Preschool Children on The Autism Spectrum in two U.S. sites

Dababnah, S., Olson, E.A., & Nichols, H.M. (2019) Feasibility of The Incredible Years Parent for Preschool Children on the Autism Spectrum in two U.S. sites. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders 57, 120-131.



Background: Parent strain and burden are high in families raising children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Caregivers of young children with ASD are particularly vulnerable to stress. Yet, few interventions address the direct needs of this growing population of parents. This pilot trial describes the feasibility, acceptability, and short-term outcomes of The Incredible Years Parent Program for Preschool Children on the Autism Spectrum or with Language Delays (IY-ASD) in two U.S. locations.

Method: We recruited caregivers of children ages to 2–6 years old with ASD to participate in a non-randomized pilot trial of IY-ASD. We aimed to describe our program delivery process and assess 1) participant retention rates and reasons for program/research discontinuation; 2) care-giver acceptability of IY-ASD; and 3) pre- and post-intervention measures of parenting stress, caregiver coping, and child behavior.

Results: Of the 50 parents who enrolled, 42 completed IY-ASD (84%). We analyzed data for 36 participants after accounting for partners and a participant lost to follow-up. Program acceptability was high. Total and child-related parenting stress significantly decreased at posttest. We found no statistically significant changes in caregiver coping, parent-related stress, or challenging child behaviors.

Conclusions: IY-ASD is a feasible and acceptable program for parents raising young children with ASD. A randomized controlled trial is needed to rigorously test the effectiveness of the inter-vention. Future research should consider a longer program period (i.e., 15–16 weeks); ASD-specific outcome measures; and, longer-term follow-up to examine program effects beyond post-intervention, as well as potential IY-ASD modifications to meet the diverse needs of participants.

Read the Article (PDF)