Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Lisa A. Ruble


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by social and communication deficits, as well as restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped behaviors, interests, and activities (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Although important relationships have been shown and described among the issues of challenging behavior, parent stress, and parenting sense of competence for families of children with ASD, there is a shortage of intervention programs appropriately suited for families which target these issues. Some programs have been developed and tested, but none is directly applicable for the target population. This is notable because of the connections drawn in the literature between families of children with ASD and the issues of challenging child behavior, parent stress, and parent sense of competence. Additionally, access to ASD-trained clinicians and research supported delivery options for families in rural areas is severely limited.

COMPASS for Hope (C-HOPE) is an 8-week parent intervention program that was developed with the option of telehealth or face-to-face delivery. This study examined an asynchronous group discussion board adaptation of C-HOPE, which was developed to further support underserved families. Three main hypotheses were made: (1) Parents will report less challenging child behaviors post-intervention; (2) Parents will report lower levels of stress post-intervention; and (3) Parents will report higher sense of competency post-intervention. With a small sample size of 10, paired-samples t-tests were conducted and effect sizes were calculated to compare the pre- and post-intervention scores for challenging child behavior, parent stress, and parenting sense of competence.

There was a statistically significant difference in the scores for challenging child behavior pre-intervention (M = 146.40, SD = 35.36) and post-intervention (M = 123.10, SD = 28.35); t(9) = 3.05, p = 0.01. The effect size for this analysis (d = 0.73) was found to fall between Cohen’s (1988) convention for a medium (d = 0.50) to large (d = 0.80) effect. There was also a statistically significant difference in the scores for parent stress pre-intervention (M = 122.60, SD = 25.73) and post-intervention (M = 109.50, SD = 26.47); t(9) = 2.51, p = 0.03. There was a medium effect size for this analysis (d = 0.50). There was not a significant difference in the scores for parenting sense of competence pre-intervention (M = 55.20, SD = 17.59) and post-intervention (M = 50.50, SD = 17.51); t(9) = 1.11, p = 0.30. Additionally, treatment adherence and social validity for the intervention were acceptable. The implications of these findings are discussed.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)