Parents taking action: A parent training intervention for Latino immigrant families


One in 67 children is diagnosed with autism. Autism is a developmental disorder that can present impairments in communication, social skills, and behavior. Without intervention, these impairments persist over time and lead to worsened child and family outcomes. For Latinos, the largest minority group in the United States and the fastest growing autism population, there are significant challenges to accessing autism treatments and services. These challenges lead to treatment and service disparities which are even more pronounced for Latino children with autism from immigrant families. Information about autism and evidenced-based interventions has not been very accessible to Spanish-speaking immigrant families and there are many barriers to accessing key services and interventions. Latino immigrant parents of children with autism urgently need information, education and training on autism, key services, and evidenced-based strategies for working with their children.

We propose to evaluate a parent education program we developed by using a randomized control trial. The intervention draws from existing knowledge about autism, treatments, services and strategies and makes it accessible to the Spanish speaking Latino community in a culturally competent and cost-effective way. Our intervention differs from any other parent education study, because the education is provided in culturally competent ways that meet the unique needs of Latino parents. For example, the curriculum will be delivered by community health educators, or promotoras de salud who themselves are parents of children with autism. Participants will be Spanish speaking mothers who have a child between 2 and 8 years old with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Participants will receive 14 weeks of home visits by the promotora who will deliver intervention content using an interactive approach. The first part of the intervention includes understanding autism symptoms and diagnosis, evidenced-based interventions, advocacy, reducing stress, and explaining their child’s behaviors to others. The second part of the intervention will teach parents how to reduce problem behaviors and improve their child’s social and communication skills. Measures of caregiver outcomes (family empowerment, caregiver efficacy and use of targeted intervention strategies) and child outcomes (autism related symptoms, services received) will be collected pre and post intervention and at two additional follow-up points. We propose to evaluate the efficacy of the intervention across two sites, one in Southern California and the other in Chicago. We will work with community based organizations and conduct a randomized trial with the goal of recruiting 60 families, 30 who will be randomly assigned to the intervention group and 30 to the control group. The control group participants will have the option to receive the program after all data collection is completed.

If successful, this intervention can be adopted by community agencies and is a cost-effective way of providing education and training to Latino immigrant parents.

PI: Sandy Magaña; Co-PIs: Wendy Machalicek & Kristina Lopez

FUNDING: National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), Grant #90IF0072

TIME FRAME: 10/1/14 – 9/30/17