MAIER Research Highlights
Drs. Deborah Rooks-Ellis and Sarah Howorth shared their research supported by the Maine Autism Institute for Education and Research in two recently published journal articles. Encompassing two distinct research projects, the first investigated the use of telehealth for providing early intervention (EI) services to rural families and the second reported on the effectiveness of a brief sexuality education intervention offered to parents attending a breakout session offered at a family disability conference.
The “Effects of a parent training using telehealth: Equity and access to early intervention for rural families” examined the implementation of a parent-mediated early intervention, the Early Start Denver Model (P-ESDM), using tele-health methods (two-way computer-based video-conferencing) to families in rural communities. In this study, parents demonstrated the ability to implement P-ESDM with their child with the support of a certified P- ESDM interventionist using telehealth methods. Parents reported satisfaction with the program and researchers measured a positive impact on the participating child. Rooks-Ellis and her team noted the use of telehealth holds potential for improving access to and equity in EI services to families living in rural communities. You can learn more about this project in this UM news report. The full research article is available to download via open-access here. (See citation below.)
The second study, reported in “The Effectiveness of a brief sexuality education intervention for parents of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities” reported on the impact of a workshop attended by parents at a disability conference measured by a questionnaire administered before and after the intervention. The conference breakout session consisted of a 60-minute presentation and 15-minute question and answer period and included topics recommended by sexuality experts for individuals with IDD. Survey questions measured parents’ attitudes and beliefs related to sexuality education for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), their level of comfort in talking with their own children about sexuality, and their perceived competence in doing so. Post-testing results indicated parents attending the workshop benefited from this brief intervention and reported feeling competent to teach this information to their child with IDD. This full report can be accessed here (citation below).
Together, these research projects supported by MAIER provided evidence to support the need and value of parent education and guidance by trained professionals using telehealth methods for early intervention services and the benefits of sexuality education to support parents and caregivers of children with IDD.