The Parent-as-Therapist Study: Update 2019

Principal investigator: Dr. Nancy Walton
Research Assistant: Genevieve Armstrong

Message from the Principal Investigator:

Welcome to the Parent-as-Therapist Study being carried out at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

The goal of this ongoing study, since 2014, is to explore the experience of parents as they provide therapy to their children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Due to lack of available services to meet the needs of children with ASD, parents are often being trained to deliver therapy to their children in lieu of a professional therapist. These therapies include those that an occupational therapist, a physiotherapist or a speech pathologist might provide. In addition, parents are being trained to provide behavioural therapy, play therapy and other kinds of therapeutic interventions to their children, typically with “check ins” with therapists to monitor the progress of the child.

This study aims to explore the experience of parents as they provide therapy within the context of a parent-child relationship, what this experience is like for them, and their feelings about it.

The study builds on previously collected data from one-on-one interviews with parents about this phenomenon and  through an online survey completed by parents about their experiences in seeking, and providing therapy and navigating through the system.

The potential benefits of this study include highlighting a phenomenon that has not been discussed in the extensive parenting literature. Given the current proposed changes to the provision of therapy for children with ASD in Ontario, this study is especially timely and important.

The survey is now closed and work is ongoing to publish and disseminate the results of the study. Updates on results will be provided here.