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Current Project

PARENTING FOR AUTISM, LANGUAGE, AND COMMUNICATION EVALUATION STUDY (PALACES)


This project is funded by the Autism research charity Autistica https://www.autistica.org.uk/ with a research grant led by Professor Judy Hutchings at Bangor University.

Parents of children with a diagnosis of Autism and/or related difficulties face challenges in supporting their children and frequently report behavioural difficulties associated with sleep, eating and other daily activities. These are affected by the dual challenges of communication difficulties and resistance to change. This project evaluates a newly developed Incredible Years (IY) programme for parents of young children with a diagnosis of autism. Many other IY programmes have been developed and researched with other populations and shown to be effective in increasing positive parenting, reducing child behavioural difficulties and increasing child pro-social behaviour. The new programme presents video footage of children with autism and uses all of the same key components that have been found to be effective in other IY parenting programmes, discussion, role-play practice and homework assignments. This new programme was recently trialled in Wales with parents of children with or awaiting a diagnosis of Autism and was enthusiastically received.

To watch a film about the pilot evaluation of the initial pilot study in Wales, follow this link: https://www.bangor.ac.uk/psychology/cebei/videos.php.en

The proposed project is a pilot randomised controlled trial of the new programme in NHS settings in North and mid-Wales. Parents of children aged 3 – 8 years will be recruited in 3-4 NHS settings. A series of baseline measures will be collected including questionnaires on family demographics, child autism symptoms and behavioural problems, parental mental health and parenting style and direct observation of child behaviour and parenting. Once recruited, parent-child pairs will be randomly allocated to an intervention group or a wait list control group. To address key ethical issues, control group families will be offered the intervention after six months.

The evaluation will test a range of pilot and feasibility questions and provide initial evidence about the effectiveness of the intervention to inform a potential definitive trial proposal to a suitable NIHR funding scheme.

This project is being carried out in collaboration with Professor Judy Hutchings and colleagues in the Centre for Evidence Based Early Intervention at Bangor University (https://www.bangor.ac.uk/psychology/cebei/index.php.en), colleagues from North and Mid Wales NHS services, and from the Centre for Health Economics and Medicines Evaluation at Bangor University (http://cheme.bangor.ac.uk/).