At the time the courses were run, Judy also worked for W.E.C.A.N, an early intervention service in rural Australia.
Understanding Autism and understanding my child with Autism: An evaluation of a group parent education program in rural Australia
Article first published online: 6 FEB 2013
© 2013 The Authors. Australian Journal of Rural Health © National Rural Health Alliance Inc.
Australian Journal of Rural Health
Volume 21, Issue 1, pages 20–27, February 2013
How to Cite
Farmer, J. and Reupert, A. (2013), Understanding Autism and understanding my child with Autism: An evaluation of a group parent education program in rural Australia. Australian Journal of Rural Health, 21: 20–27. doi: 10.1111/ajr.12004
(Judy co-wrote the ‘Understanding Autism and Understanding my child with Autism’ program, designed the questionnaires, collected data and wrote an initial draft of the paper, which was subsequently revised and rewritten in collaboration with Dr Andrea Reupert.)
(Andrea revised, assisted and supervised with the paper as part of a PHCRED strategy through Monash University Department of Rural and Indigenous Health Gippsland.)
All programs were carried out at the W.E.C.A.N. premises Warragul Victoria.
- Issue published online: 6 FEB 2013
- Article first published online: 6 FEB 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 3 JUL 2012
- Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing under the PHCRED strategy through Monash University Gippsland
- multi-stranded content;
- parent education;
- parent group;
To describe and evaluate a six-session program provided to parents of children with Autism in rural Australia. The program was designed to improve parent's knowledge and understanding of Autism, improve their confidence in managing their child and decrease parental anxiety.
A self-constructed questionnaire administered pre- and post-intervention.
An early intervention centre in a large town in rural Victoria.
Ninety-eight parents (or family members) of young children primarily aged 2–6 years of age, diagnosed with Autism.
A ‘multi-stranded content’ program was offered over six evenings. Ten programs were conducted over six years.
The pre- versus post-session analysis using a paired t-test on matched person-to-person parental responses (n = 92) showed significant increases in parental understanding of Autism and understanding of their own child (P < 0.001), and in understanding the communication, sensory, social, learning and behavioural features of Autism (P < 0.001). Significant increases in parental confidence and a significant reduction in parental anxiety were also shown (P < 0.001). Qualitative data indicated that parents valued learning about the general nature of Autism and sensory processing, and reported feeling less alone.
The six-week program was successful in terms of its aims. Parent feedback indicated that ongoing parent education sessions at regular intervals would enhance the impact of the program.