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Examining the Impact of “EarlyBird” Family Education Programs on Enhancing Parental Understanding and Support of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

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conference contribution
submitted on 2024-05-16, 11:20 and posted on 2024-05-23, 12:17 authored by Hussein Ziab, Annamma Oommen, Elham Awad, Nagat Al Kabir

Background

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental condition affecting communication, social interaction, and behaviour. Family Education Programs (FEP) are vital for parents to manage the challenges associated with ASD in their children. The “EarlyBird” Program (EBP) is a well-established parental training program to improve the well-being of children and their family. The aim of this study was to determine parents’ benefits from attending EBP, particularly understanding autistic children's abilities and challenges, and utilizing effective strategies to support their child's development.

Methods

This is a pilot study. Between January and July 2023, 304 parents attended the EarlyBird Program. A stratified random sample of 150 parents were contacted via email or WhatsApp to complete the modified version of the National Autism Society's EBP questionnaires3, which are combined quantitative and qualitative questions designed to assess parental understanding and support of autistic children. 71 parents agreed to participate (47% response rate). Data from 71 completed surveys was analysed using descriptive statistical analysis (percentages and frequencies).

Results

More than 84% of parents (n=60) reported a better understanding of ASD and how associated sensory issues impact on children’s communication and lives. Similarly, the majority of parents (N=61, ≈87%) reported that they had adopted communication strategies for managing their child's behavioral challenges. More than 86% (n=61) were willing to recommend the EBP to others (Figure 1).

Conclusion

EBP remarkably enhances parental knowledge, particularly regarding ASD-related sensory issues, autism-specific behaviours and communication strategies. Training has helped parents to create supportive environments for their children, facilitate effective communication with them and strengthen families’ approach. Moreover, it provides parents with effective coping strategies in dealing with challenges and enhances the family’s well-being. The small sample size of this pilot study limits the generalization of these findings. Well-designed larger studies are still needed for a better understanding of these effects.

History

Language

  • English

Publisher

Hamad Medical Corporation

Publication Year

  • 2024

License statement

This Item is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Institution affiliated with

  • Hamad Medical Corporation
  • Al Wakra Hospital - HMC
  • Al Maha Center for Children and Young Adults - Al Wakra Hospital
  • Ministry of Public Health - State of Qatar

Geographic coverage

Qatar