Efficacy of a parent -child therapeutic nursery: Assessing outcomes of mothers of high functioning children on the autistic spectrum
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There are a limited number of intervention programs for children on the Autistic Spectrum and their parents, still fewer have been researched and shown efficacious. This study evaluates the parents (N=8) of children on the Autism spectrum who participated in the parent-child intervention of the Therapeutic Nursery, a developmental multi-modal nursery (Allen & Mendelson, 2000). The intervention was conducted over one school year through daily sessions of a 2.5 hour duration.;Parents are enlisted as members of the treatment team and the intervention is psycho-educational in order to help parents understand the developmental needs of their children. Parents also participate in parent support-groups and individual counseling. Pre and post comparisons of videotaped parent-child interaction will test for significant increases in parents' responsiveness to their children. Targeted parent goals include increasing parent competence, decreasing isolation and parental stress, and improving parent understanding of their child's needs.;Exploratory measures were used to determine maternal mental health, positive psychology (optimism and hope) and parenting stress. Videotaped observations of dyadic free play were assessed using the Maternal Behavior Rating Scale. Findings showed significant correlations between maternal levels of hope and responsivity during free play with their child. Levels of anxiety were clinically significant among the mothers and stress findings were comparable to mothers of a Developmentally Delayed sample.;Implications of the findings are compelling for practice purposes. Cognitive and behavioral therapy techniques can be utilized to help mothers reduce their anxiety and stress, enabling them to focus more on effective parenting. Furthermore, since levels of hope appear to be influenced by the psycho-educational aspect of the program, this feature of the parent-child model should be strengthened. Mothers should continue to be encouraged and supported in forming child related behavioral and developmental goals and developing the means to help their child reach those goals.