After a diagnosis of autism, it is an important first step to give families information about autism and skills to help them support their child. These interventions are called Parent Education and Training programmes. Little is known about these programmes or if they can make a difference to families, particularly in countries with few autism resources. In this study, we compared two Parent Education and Training programmes in South Africa. EarlyBird/EarlyBird Plus was developed in the United Kingdom, and Autism Cares in South Africa. We wanted to know if parents found the programmes useful, and if any changes were required. We collected information from parents through questionnaires and interviews before and after the group. We also asked a panel of experts (including parents) to compare the programmes. In total, 18 parents attended the EarlyBird/EarlyBird Plus group and 11 attended the Autism Cares group. Parents found both programmes helpful and made suggestions for improvements. Parents showed less stress, more knowledge of autism, and saw improvements in their children. The expert panel rated EarlyBird/EarlyBird Plus as better because it was more supportive of parents and was seen as easier to run in the country. Our study showed that Parent Education and Training programmes are important, but that researchers must study not only the outcomes but also the implementation needs of these programmes.
About The Expert
Petrus J de Vries