Methods: A pilot randomised controlled trial was conducted in four specialist children services to compare the IY-ASLD programme with a control condition. A total of 58 parents of children with ASD (aged 3-8 years) were randomly allocated to receive the IY-ASLD immediately or after six months. Data were collected before randomisation and six months later. Measures included child behaviour, parental stress, parenting behaviour, parental depression, child social communication, and a 10-minute parent-child play observation. Parents in the intervention condition also completed a satisfaction questionnaire and a qualitative interview on their views of the programme.
Results: Attendance on the programme was high with 72% of parents attending eight or more sessions. Satisfaction with the programme was also high with over 90% of the parents rating the content, teaching, group discussions, role play, and home activities as helpful or very helpful. A medium effect size was found for observed parental praise (d= 0.62) indicating that parents in the intervention condition significantly increased their use of praise with their children compared to control parents. Small effect sizes were found for other observed parental behaviours, child externalising behaviour, parental distress, parental depression, and negative parenting skills.
Conclusions: The IY-ASLD programme was successfully delivered by existing staff in four specialist children services. It was well-received by parents who reported good levels of satisfaction and high rates of attendance. Initial evidence of effectiveness suggests positive effects for parenting behaviour, child behaviour, and parental mental health. The results are promising however the study was not powered to find significant effects therefore a larger study would need to be conducted to further examine the programme’s effectiveness.