The Impact of a Parent Training Opportunity for Parents of Children with Disabilities on Self-Reported Knowledge and Skill Levels to Support Their Children to Generalize Behavior
Hamilton, Sumiko Ykee
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Background: Lack of generalized skills across environments can lead to social, academic, and behavioral issues for students with disabilities. Further, this may also lead to more skill and performance deficiencies, leading to future concerns such as risk for dropping out. When providing an appropriate educational program, teachers and parents find problem behavior among the most challenging and stressful issues they face. Parent training allows parents to build on their prior knowledge and skills while teaching effective strategies for helping cope with their child’s behaviors and for generalizing positive behaviors across different environments. Purpose: This study sought to assess the impact of training parents of children with disabilities on their self-reported knowledge and skill levels to support their children in generalizing behavior. The following were research questions: (a) What is the impact of a training program for parents of students with disabilities on their self-reported knowledge and skills to support generalization? (b) Are there differences in the reported knowledge and skills of parents based on parent level of education? (c) What are the differences in parent ratings of their understanding/knowledge versus their ratings of their skill to implement strategies across the categories of generalization training? Methods: The sample (n = 14) included parents with children enrolled at a childcare center for children with disabilities. The outcome survey had 16 items, five relating to demographics information and eleven questions that were rated using a Likert scale. These items specifically addressed parents’ self-reported knowledge and skill for implementation of strategies to support the generalization of their child’s behavior following the parent training. Survey data were analyzed using the SPSS. For Research Question 1, descriptive statistics were computed for each item assessing parents self-report of knowledge and/or skills. Additionally, correlations between each of the primary items on the outcome survey was also computed. To answer RQ2, ANOVA was conducted to determine group differences based on parent educational attainment. For RQ3, the Wilcoxon signed-rank test was utilized to examine differences between ratings of understanding/knowledge and ratings of skill to implement strategies. Results: Following the training, parents reported average to moderately high levels of knowledge of strategies for generalization and for managing their child’s behaviors and emotions. No significant differences were found for parental education level for any items. Furthermore, the Wilcoxson signed-rank test generally showed no significant differences between ratings of understanding and rating of competence for implementation across generalization categories. However, there was a significant difference between parents’ rating of understanding and competency for the category of “train to generalize”. Conclusion: Training is likely to need to take place regularly throughout years of parental responsibility to continue to support parents in the generalization of their child’s behaviors across settings. Parents need to be provided with other avenues such as real-life applications to implement these generalization strategies and/or given different training options such as online training curriculums to increase the participation. Limitations of the study include the small sample size and potential for self-report bias.