Evaluating the effects of Acceptance and Commitment Training on the overt behavior of parents of children with autism

Authors:

Evelyn R. Gould, Jonathan Tarbox, & Lisa Coyne

Abstract:

Behavioral parent training is a critical component of treatment for children with autism, however, engaging parents effectively can be challenging. Despite evidence that private events can strongly influence parent behavior and training outcomes, the topic has received minimal attention in the behavioral literature thus far. Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT) is a contemporary behavioral approach to increasing adaptive, flexible repertoires of behavior, by reducing control by problematic rule-deriving and rule-following. This study is the first to examine the effects of ACT on values-directed overt behavior in parents of children with ASD. A nonconcurrent multiple baseline design across participants was used to evaluate treatment effectiveness. Notable increases in overt values-directed parent behavior were observed for all participants. Gains maintained post-training, with the greatest effects observed more than 6 months post-training. Exploratory data suggested possible decreases in parental experiential avoidance and increases in self-compassion.

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