Riding the Rapids: living with autism or disability - an evaluation of a parenting support intervention for parents of disabled children

Lucy Stuttard, Bryony Anne Beresford, Susan Evelyn Clarke, J. Beecham, Samantha Todd, Jo Bromley

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Evidence on the effectiveness of interventions to support parents of disabled children to manage their child's behaviour problems is limited. The aim of this study was to evaluate a group-delivered intervention (Riding the Rapids) which was specifically developed for parents of a child with a disability or autistic spectrum condition. This programme has been routinely delivered by a community-based mental health team across an urban, multi-ethnic locality for a number of years. A non-randomised controlled study design comprising an intervention group (n = 48) and comparator (no intervention) group (n = 28) was used to evaluate the effects of the intervention on child behaviour (Eyberg Child Behaviour Inventory, parent-set goals) and parenting efficacy and satisfaction (Parents Sense of Competence Scale) at post-intervention and six-month follow-up. Data on costs to the service provider of delivering the intervention were also collected. Receipt of the intervention was associated with significant reductions in parent-reported behaviour problems and significant improvements in parenting efficacy and satisfaction. At six-month follow-up, progress towards achieving parent-set child behaviour goals and parenting satisfaction had been maintained. Post hoc analysis suggests parents who do not have English as a first language may not benefit as much as other parents from this intervention. Findings suggest this is a promising intervention for parents of a child with a disability that is likely to be less resource intensive to service providers than individually delivered interventions. Limitations and implications for future research are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2371-2383
Number of pages13
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Issue number10
Early online date18 Jun 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • disabled children
  • autism spectrum disorders
  • behaviour
  • interventions
  • parents
  • effectiveness

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