Heather Miller Kuhaneck, Stephanie Madonna, Audrey Novak, Emily Pearson; Effectiveness of Interventions for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder and Their Parents: A Systematic Review of Family Outcomes. Am J Occup Ther 2015;69(5):6905180040. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.017855
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This systematic review examined the literature published from January 2006 to April 2013 related to the effectiveness of occupational therapy interventions for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their parents to improve parental stress and self-efficacy, coping, and resilience and family participation in daily life and routines. From the 4,457 abstracts, 34 articles were selected that matched the inclusion criteria. The results were mixed and somewhat inconclusive because this body of literature is in its infancy. Studies of children with ASD do not routinely measure parental and family outcomes. Recommendations include an emphasis on family measures other than parental stress and a greater focus on measures of parental and family functioning in all future studies of pediatric interventions to more fully understand the impact of interventions in a wider context.
Family-centered care has been widely supported as a critical part of treating children with disabilities (Dempsey, Keen, Pennell, O’Reilly, & Neilands, 2009).
The pervasive nature of ASD has a significant impact on daily life for both the child and the family; as a result, it is critical that providers consider the needs of the entire family (Hodgetts, Nicholas, Zwaigenbaum, & McConnell, 2013).
Occupational therapists support family-centered care because they recognize the interrelationship of the client’s skills, performance patterns, and environment, including the family and home environment (Rodger, Ashburner, Cartmill, & Bourke-Taylor, 2010).
Family-centered care for children with ASD must also address the well-being of parents, siblings, and other caretakers by using evidence-based interventions whose outcomes will benefit the family’s needs.
Occupational therapists can provide family-centered intervention through the purposeful consideration of how individual and family occupations interact with client factors and performance skills and patterns, taking into account the context and the environment (AOTA, 2014).
Families of children with ASD are stressed, and removing the stressors they face may be impossible. However, improving parental self-efficacy and coping and focusing on family resilience are important goals for occupational therapy interventions.
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