The goal of this project is to develop and disseminate the Autism Parent Trainer (APT), an online platform that provides parents of children with autism coach-facilitated instruction in how to teach new behaviors, manage problem behaviors, and learn emotion regulation and stress reduction strategies. APT will use Google+ Hangouts technology as the communication medium, which allows participants to: (a) synchronously attend online workshops where they can interact with a coach, a group of peers, and a curriculum grounded in evidence-based practice;and (b) asynchronously accessed skill-building instructional materials related to the online instruction. Significance: The APT delivery model addresses the well-documented shortcomings of current parent training approaches, including limited accessibility, high cost, and lack of peer support. In Phase I, we will pilot and test three introductory online sessions focused on: (a) making adjustments to family functioning, (b) teaching appropriate behaviors using a behavioral learning system, and (c) self-care and stress management. Investigators: The PIs have extensive experience training parents of children with autism as well as grant management;project team members have years of experience in translational research involving media and Internet technologies. The project benefits from participation by key consultants with strong backgrounds in autism research and advocacy, as well as parent training. Innovation: The APT platform is a "cloud-based" application that will allow users to access group sessions and individual portfolios from any kind of computing device, including smart phones, and will provide easy access to artifacts and media in the cloud. The APT delivery model is specifically designed to overcome barriers to existing parent training programs, including limited accessibility, excessive cost, and lack of peer support. Approach: Program development will include formative research to develop program materials and assess goodness-of-fit via focus groups and consultant input and review. APT's technical merit, feasibility and commercialization potential will be examined in a two-panel pre- and post-test design. Outcome measures will include parental self-efficacy and satisfaction, parental stress, and knowledge gains. Environment: The institutional support, equipment, and physical resources required to develop and disseminate the program are available. IRIS Ed enjoys close ties with the University of Oregon, Oregon Social Learning Center, and Oregon Research Institute. Commercialization: IRIS Ed prides itself on its commitment to commercializing training interventions;its growth strategy is to develop a line of media-based training products through capital investment and high performance on competitive grants. All IRIS Ed products are copyright protected by the laws of the United States (Title 17, U. S. Code). Through continued funding and strategic partnerships, IRIS Ed plans to extend its product line and continue to benefit specialized, underserved populations.
Parents of children with autism cite challenging behaviors as one of their greatest concerns. Challenging behaviors, in turn, lead to high parental stress and coercive interactions. Many existing education programs for parents of children with autism are hampered by limited accessibility, excessive cost, and lack of peer support. The goal of the Autism Parent Trainer: Online coaching for parents of children with autism (APT) project is to provide training to parents of children with autism that delivers evidence-based instruction via a cloud- based application that: (a) facilitates active coaching, (b) increases accessibility to group sessions and individual portfolios through a number of computing devices including smart phones, and (c) promotes social networking and peer support.