Date of Conferral

2022

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Psychology

Advisor

Steven Little

Abstract

Autism spectrum disorder is a complex and heterogenous, neurodevelopmental disorder. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a common treatment modality for children with autism with marked improvements demonstrated in communication, social, and adaptive functioning. The most common implementation of ABA is a practitioner-led model, whereby a paraprofessional directly implements treatment with the oversight of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst®. Parent mediated treatments are another model proving to be efficacious for children with autism and their parents. While this model is applied in therapeutic treatments such as speech pathology, early intervention, and other behavioral approaches (e.g., ESDM, PRT), parent mediated treatment has not been widely applied in the field of ABA. For this reason, this study, with a foundation in behavioral theory and Bandura’s unifying theory of behavior change, investigated the effectiveness of a parent mediated approach knowns as parent-led ABA. To evaluate this, an archival analysis was conducted for children with autism who received parent-led ABA and practitioner-led ABA as a comparison. Results of this analysis revealed parent-led ABA to be no different in treatment outcome to practitioner delivered treatment. Specifically, while both parent-led ABA and practitioner-led ABA demonstrated a significant change in outcome on both the Vineland-3 (ps < .05) and the VB-MAPP (p < .05), there were no significant group differences observed (ps > .05). This produces positive social change as parents are taught to implement an efficacious treatment for their child, which can have a daily and lifelong impact for these families by positively impacting parenting skills, increasing parent’s self-efficacy, and ultimately making a lasting impact in their child’s life.

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