Sample Proposal – Program Exposition and Reports

Title of Poster Presentation: Feasibility of eLearning for Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Primary Presenter Contact: Melissa Easton

Role: Graduate student

Additional Presenter Name: Dr. Caitlyn Malvern

Role: Assistant Professor, Special Education Program

School District/Intermediate Unit/Agency: East University

Poster Description/Topic: This poster provides the results of a study to investigate the utilization of an eLearning program designed for parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Parents were recruited through social media, word-of-mouth, and research advertisements on Autism Speaks and East University research study websites to enroll in an online course containing basic information on ASDs, including introductions to autism, treatments, behaviorism, stress management, and navigating systems. The major outcomes included utilization, knowledge levels and knowledge gains, as well as user satisfaction.

Supporting Evidence for Program or Practice: Evidence-based services for families with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are failing to keep pace with increased identification and family need. Parent training in behavioral strategies is generally regarded as effective in the ASD literature (Matson, Mahan, & Matson, 2009), but most training has been done in a face-to-face format. Remote service delivery for parents has been proposed as a vehicle for overcoming many of the current barriers for families in accessing resources and support (e.g., Steiner, Koegel, Koegel, & Ence, 2012; Wainer & Ingersoll, 2013). The literature on ASD remote learning and eLearning indicates potential for success in educating parents, as shown by increased parent knowledge (Hamad, Serna, Morrison, & Fleming, 2010; Jang et al., 2012), as well as in improving skill level and child’s expressive verbal language (Nefdt, Koegel, Singer, & Gerber, 2010). High parent satisfaction with ASD eLearning has been reported (Hamad et al., 2010; Jang et al., 2012; Nefdt et al., 2010). However, utilization of ASD eLearning is less clear, with one study showing approximately 60% completion with a majority professionals/paraprofessionals (Hamad et al., 2010), one study showing 80% completion with high-need families (Nefdt et al., 2010), and one study that did not report completion (Jang et al., 2012). Given the initial outcomes from previous studies on ASD eLearning for parents, with promising knowledge and satisfaction results but less clear utilization, there is a need to further investigate these results before widespread investment in and dissemination of online learning materials is encouraged.

Outcomes: Outcomes include parent utilization of, satisfaction with, and knowledge levels/gains in the eLearning for Autism course. In addition, for a small subset of participants who completed a survey, parent and child demographics, parent-reported child symptom severity levels, parent stress (using the Parental Stress Scale [Berry & Jones, 1995] and the Autism Parenting Stress Index [APSI; Silva & Schalock, 2012]), and parent self-efficacy (using an adapted version of the Early Intervention Parenting Self-Efficacy Scale [EIPSES; Guimond, Wilcox, & Lamorey, 2008]) are described.

Data Display: Data will be displayed in tables (demographics, knowledge levels and gains, satisfaction, behavioral concerns) and graphs (utilization).