Theses Doctoral

The Effects of a Virtual Parent Training Program and Parental Stress on the Quality and Quantity of Parent-Child Interactions for Children with ASD

Alshowaiman, Lenah

A child’s early language environment, and their parents’ active engagement during parent-child interactions play a vital role in facilitating the development of complex social reinforcers and the growth of their verbal behavior. Using a verbal behavioral approach, this study aimed to measure the statistical significance of changes in the quality and quantity of parent-child interactions after parents participated in a virtual parent-training program. The intervention used was the Incredible Years-ASLD® (Webster-Stratton, 2015) program, which consisted of 12 group parent-training sessions delivered virtually in small groups. Th

e study also aimed to assess the association between parental stress and the quality and quantity of parent-child interactions. Participants were seventeen biological mother-child dyads. The participant children attended a full-day, intensive Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) preschool, with a mean age of 4 years and 3 months and either had an Individual Education Program for a preschooler with a disability or an Individualized Family Service Plan. The number of verbal operants exchanged between the mother and the child during the parent-child interactions were measured at baseline, during, and after the intervention. Parent-child interactions were designed to mirror their naturalistic interactions and consisted of a five-min structured-play task, and a five-min free-play task, which were recorded for future analysis. Self-reported parental-stress levels were measured at baseline and after the intervention using the Parenting-Stress Index-Fourth Edition, Short Form (Abidin, 2012).

This pilot study was conducted to statistically evaluate the changes across all three conditions following the IY-ASLD® intervention on a) the quantity of mother-child interactions, as measured by the number of vocal-verbal operants initiated by the mothers (i.e., mands and tacts), and the number of approvals vs. disapprovals; and b) on the quality of mother-child interactions as measured by mothers’ verbal responsiveness to their children’s initiations, mothers’ effectiveness in eliciting a response from their children, and the number of missed opportunities for mothers and children. The results for the first research question demonstrated that there was a statistically significant increase in the number of tacts emitted by the mothers in the free-play task, as well as a statistically significant decrease in the number of approvals following the intervention.

There were no statistically significant changes in the number of mothers’ mands or disapprovals. The results for the second research question demonstrated that, following the intervention, there was a statistically significant decrease in the number of missed opportunities for the children during the structured-play task, and in the number of missed opportunities for the mothers in both tasks. There was also a statistically significant decrease in children’s responses to mothers’ initiations in the free-play task.

This study also aimed to assess the relation between parental stress and the quality and quantity of parent-child interactions. The findings suggested a statistically significant negative association during the pre-intervention condition between parental-stress and the quality of parent-child interactions, specifically, mothers’ responsiveness to their children’s initiations. Furthermore, mothers’ stress levels were significantly negatively associated with the number of mands emitted by the mothers, but not associated with the quantity of the other vocal-verbal operants.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Applied Behavior Analysis
Thesis Advisors
Dudek, Jessica Lee
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 5, 2023