Contextual Behavioral Strategies to Help Parents Adhere to Behavior Plans for Children with Autism 

Principal Investigator(s):
Craig William Strohmeier
Grant Type:
Applied Research
Hugo W. Moser Research Institute at Kennedy Krieger, Inc.
Baltimore, Maryland
Year Awarded:
Behavior, Emotions, Mental Health; Families


Many children with autism demonstrate severe problem behavior (SPB) in the form of self-injury, aggression, and disruptive behavior. Conducting a functional analysis and implementing derived treatments can produce effective behavior plans. Nonetheless, skills training and an effective plan may not be sufficient to produce parent adherence. This applied research proposal describes an approach to target the negative maintaining contingencies supporting parent reinforcement of problem behavior (accommodation) and nonadherence. The intervention, borrowed from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Behavioral Activation strategies, is matched specifically to the hypothesized function of the problematic caregiver responses (negative reinforcement). Parents who participate in the proposed investigation will be assigned to either the Defuse Experience Accept Live intervention (DEAL) protocol group or treatment as usual. Five 45-min DEAL sessions will 1) introduce caregivers to behavior change strategies that maximize contact with positive-maintaining contingencies related to adherence, while undermining the contingencies that maintain accommodation, and 2) provide caregivers with new treatment-related committed actions that are sensitive to positive changes in parent-child interactions. Within and between participant analyses will be conducted to determine the effectiveness of the DEAL protocol.

More Information

This project is sponsored by the Lisa Higgins Hussman Foundation.

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