Date of Conferral







Thomas Trocchio


The number of children who display characteristics of autism in the United States has been on the rise. Not only do children diagnosed with autism experience difficulties related to the defining characteristics of autism, but parents of children diagnosed with autism commonly experience negative consequences as well. Parents of a child diagnosed with autism more often report symptoms of depression, stress, and reduced quality of life than their do counterparts with neuro-typical children. These traits have the potential to negatively impact the parents' capacity to assist their child in receiving needed treatment and can limit the ability of the parents to learn and utilize effective strategies to assist their child in their future development. Guided by the relational frame theory, this study investigated the effects that acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) might have on parents who have a child diagnosed with autism within California. The dependent variables were stress, depression, and quality of life. The independent variable was treatment, with 3 intervention levels: ACT, behavior analytic training, and a no treatment control group. A quasi-experimental, non-equivalent, pretest-posttest design was used to examine the variables among a sample of 57 parents of children diagnosed with autism. Given concerns meeting assumptions of normality, Kruskal-Wallis was the statistical procedure used. The overall/change score for Quality of Life was significant at the .01 level across treatment levels. The findings of this study could serve to allow the parents of a child diagnosed with autism to interact more fully and meaningfully with their child and to provide the parents with a venue for which to address challenges they may be experiencing related to their child's disability.

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