Autism and Family Interventions Through Technology: A Description of a Web-Based Tool to Educate Fathers of Children with Autism

Autism and Family Interventions Through Technology: A Description of a Web-Based Tool to Educate Fathers of Children with Autism

Richard E. Ferdig (Kent State University, USA), Hilary G. Amberg (University of Florida, USA), Jennifer H. Elder (University of Florida, USA), Gregory Valcante (University of Florida, USA), Susan A. Donaldson (University of Florida, USA) and Roxanna Bendixen (University of Florida, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/jwbltt.2009090804

Abstract

Most research on family interventions of children with autism has focused on the role of the mother, and little is known about the effects of training fathers. Through a series of National Institutes of Health–funded studies we have demonstrated treatment success by focusing on fathers who are trained at home. Although our research has been successful, this work introduces questions related to how best to train fathers when on-site, in-home training is not a viable option due to geographical distance or a variety of other logistical constraints. This article describes the development and initial use of an Internet-based tool to offer this training more broadly. We briefly describe past research as well as the need for the implementation of an Internet-based tool. We then describe the system, document early indicators of success, and discuss metrics we are using with our fathers. The article concludes with a discussion of future goals and research needs.
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Introduction

Recent research has indicated that 1 of every 150 children is diagnosed with autism (http://www.worldautismawarenessday.org). Although there are a wide variety of treatment options for autism, including educational and behavioral interventions, medications, and therapies, some may lead to great improvement while others may have little or no effect (Elder, 2002). As the number of reported cases of autism has increased, the amount of autism-related research has also increased (Rapin, 2002). In addition to research related to the possible causes of autism, researchers are also interested in finding successful and appropriate ways to help children with autism learn and function better in society.

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