Friday, July 13, 2007
This presentation is part of : Children's Mental Health
Novel Approaches and Technology in Training for Fathers of Children with Autism
Jennifer Harrison Elder, RN, PhD, FAAN1, Susan Donaldson, MSN, ARNP1, Meghan Bullard, BSN2, and Erica Hilliard, BSN1. (1) College of Nursing, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA, (2) College of Nursing, Univeresity of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA
Learning Objective #1: understand the theoretical underpinnings of training fathers to intervene with their autistic children
Learning Objective #2: understand autism and evaluate methods for assisting families to promote language and social relatedness.

Literature regarding fathers of children with autism remains sparse, and because mothers are the more common intervening parent, few training methods have been tested with fathers. This presentation addresses social interaction theory, provides an overview of father-child and parent-training literature, and summarizes the first presenter’s experience over the past 25 years of developing and evaluating in-home training methods for children with autism. Emphasis will be placed on the development and implementation of novel father-directed training methods. This work has been supported by a series of grants from the National Institute of Nursing Research at the National Institutes of Health in the United States.
Data indicate that fathers can be trained to use two specific child training skills, and that fathers, in turn, can effectively train mothers. Furthermore, children in these studies have demonstrated increased social initiations, responses, and vocalizations. Building on this foundational work, the presenters will describe training and observational methodology from a new 4-year NIH-funded project ($1.1 million) aimed at: (a) evaluating the effects of training fathers of autistic children with an expanded training module, (b) evaluating the effects of the expanded father training on skill acquisition by mothers, (c) evaluating the effects of the in-home training on parental stress and family cohesion, and (d) developing an Internet-based investigator-father feedback system and evaluating its feasibility during the training protocol and maintenance phases. Data analyzed during the first two years of this new R01 (N=12 families) support earlier findings and will be presented visually as in customary in single subject experimental methodology. 
This information should prove useful to clinicians, researchers, and families seeking to improve the quality of life for children with autism. Concluding this session will be a discussion regarding the potential for applying these procedures with the larger population of children who demonstrate challenging behavioral disorders.