The Incredible Years: Group-Based Parenting Program for Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder


Assistant Professor Sarah Dababnah is a co-author of new Autism research chapter in the book "Handbook of Parent-Implemented Interventions for Very Young Children with Autism." The chapter, "The Incredible Years® Group-Based Parenting Program for Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder," can be found online and is part of Springer Publishing's Autism and Child Psychopathology Series.

ABSTRACT: A new Incredible Years® (IY) Parent Program for preschool children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and language delays (ages 2–5) was recently developed and piloted. It is designed to either complement the 18–20-week IY Preschool Basic Program for parent groups where children have a mix of behavioral and developmental challenges or to be used independently in a combination of 14–18-week group-based course plus individual home coaching for parents with children with ASD. This chapter includes a summary of the rationale for IY parent program content that promotes social communication and language development, positive relationships and social skills, emotion- and self-regulation, and positive behavior management. The IY collaborative approaches for training and supporting parents are also presented. These approaches include mediating vignettes of children with ASD to trigger parent self-reflection; problem-solving and experiential practices with child-directed play and imitation; communicating with children with and without language skills; practicing parenting skills such as persistence, social and emotion coaching, gesturing, modeling, and prompting; incorporating social sensory routines; engaging in pretend play and using puppets to enhance joint play, social communication, and empathy; and learning the ABCs for managing behavior, including the concepts of antecedent accommodations and environmental modification to promote appropriate behavior, teaching replacement behaviors, and reinforcing target behaviors by providing praise, incentives, and sensory activities as rewarding consequences. Parents learn to identify behaviors that can be ignored and how to use differential attention and get into their child’s attention spotlight. The importance of parent goal setting, self-monitoring, home activities, stress management, self-care, and building parent support networks is emphasized.

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