All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Fred J Biasini

Advisory Committee Members

Sarah E O'Kelley

John H Houser

Sarah E Bauman

Justin C Schwartz

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2020

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disability that is characterized by impairments in social communication and repetitive behavior patterns that currently affects one in fifty-four individuals. Individuals with ASD often experience greater health disparities than the general population related to a lack of services that are available and systemic barriers to accessing care. Alabama’s Regional Autism Network is tasked with serving this population to reduce health disparities and increase health equity. One region within the Network created a psychoeducation program for caregivers and providers of individuals with ASD with the goal of providing evidence-based knowledge, teaching ASD intervention skills, and empowering attendees through social support and improved connections to service providers and the ASD system of care. Through a program evaluation and in-depth parent interviews, researchers found the Workshops to be an effective method for increasing knowledge and supporting change in parenting techniques and abilities, as well as improving parents’ self-efficacy, their feelings of social support, and their ability to connect to the ASD system of care. These findings indicate that group-based psychoeducation programs can be an effective and integral part of reducing health disparities for families and individuals within the ASD community and should be considered for large scale replication across settings. In addition, the findings have public health and healthcare policy implications that should encourage the funding and implementation of evidence-based community programming to support the ASD system of care.

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