Group coaching intervention with parents of children with autism spectrum disorder in Brazil – a pilot study




Introduction: Caring for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) entails changes in family dynamics. In Brazil, the journey from diagnosis to treatment is characterized by several barriers. Families and their children can be empowered to achieve occupational performance goals through parental coaching interventions. There is, however, limited national evidence on coaching interventions designed to support this population. Aim: This pilot study examines the effects of a coaching intervention program on the occupational performance of Brazilian children with ASD and their families. Methods: A single-subject experimental design was used to conduct group coaching sessions with 16 caregivers over ten weekly sessions. The intervention was designed following the principles of Occupational Performance Coaching (OPC) and was conducted in a group setting to address the economic constraints of the Brazilian health system. The assessment tools adopted were the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure (COPM) and the Developmental History Questionnaire, developed by the authors. During group coaching intervention sessions, occupational performance in the home environment and the efficacy of strategies developed in collaboration with caregivers were observed and discussed. Ultimately, the COPM goals were reassessed by the participants. Results: The average difference for COPM performance and satisfaction scores indicated significant changes, demonstrating that the group coaching intervention improved the participants' occupational performance. Caregivers reported a broader understanding of ASD and its implications for their children's daily lives. In addition, they have enhanced problem-solving skills and reported increased sense of self-efficacy and competence. Application and Conclusion: This pilot study has contributed to the literature on using group coaching interventions to increase the occupational performance of participating children and their families. Our findings indicate that the use of OPC principles is promising in Brazil. These initial findings can encourage further research in this emerging intervention approach and support family-centred interventions in paediatric occupational therapy in Brazil.

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