Parent Training for Families With a Child With ASD: A Naturalistic Systemic Behavior Analytic Model

Angeliki Gena, Petros Galanis, Erifylli Tsirempolou, Eleni Michalopoulou, Kalliopi Sarafidou


The great challenges that the treatment of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) present to therapists and to parents, alike, arise not only from the severity of this disability, but also from two other factors: the continuously increasing prevalence of ASD and the serious financial restraints imposed by the recent economic hardships that the Western World faces. Thus, the need for parent-training practices is more prevalent than ever. The purpose of the present study was to identify parent-training practices that encompass child-related, parent-related and parent-child-interaction related variables as a means of addressing the difficulties that arise during parent-child interactions in a systemic and systematic way. Complex phenomena, such as the parent-child interaction, need to be treated with multi-focused interventions that produce generalized, systemic outcomes that are of clinical or social significance. The changes achieved in this intervention, which was conducted within a naturalistic context, were multiple and systemic since they involve child-related (e.g., on task behavior), parent-related (e.g., provision of reinforcement), and parent-child-interaction related variables (e.g., joint attention). Those changes were obtained through the use of behavior analytic techniques, such as modeling and systematic, direct parent training. Most importantly, those changes were spread to response categories for which training was not provided, generalized to novel settings and maintained through time. We may conclude that the combination of systemic and behavior-analytic approaches and methodologies may provide a highly beneficial perspective toward designing parent-training research protocols that may also lead to improved clinical practices.


ASD; naturalistic systemic behavior-analytic intervention; parent training