Date of Paper

5-2012

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

msw

Department

socialwork

First Advisor

Catherine Marrs Fuchsel

Abstract

This qualitative study explored the perceptions of mental health professionals and practitioners of parental involvement in early intervention programs for children with autism. Interviews were completed with eight mental health professionals and practitioners to better understand the importance of parental involvement, the role parents play within an early intervention program, and the impact parental involvement or lack there of can have on the child’s success developmentally and their success in the early intervention program. The objective of this study was to gain insight into mental health professionals and practitioners perceptions in order to learn ways for social workers and professionals alike to be more effective in supporting children with autism and their parental figures. The content of the interviews were analyzed to identify categories and subsequent themes expressed by the participants.

The findings indicated lack of parental involvement is detrimental to the child’s development and progress within an early intervention program. There is ample research on the positive effects of children with autism who have parental involvement, such as increased developmental skills and progress in an autism early intervention program. The effects lack of parental involvement could have on a child are the inability to support the child’s needs, the child’s ability to generalize skills across environments, and lack of developmental progress. The findings also present several implications that can be taken from this study, including the need for both the social work profession and parents to have an understanding of the benefits parental involvement provide as well as the harmful effects it could have on a child with autism. Other implications include the need to be culturally aware of the parents, and the need to provide a variety of services to reach each individual family.

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