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J Intellect Disabil Res. 2003 May-Jun;47(Pt 4-5):291-9.

The Son-Rise Program intervention for autism: an investigation into family experiences.

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Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.



Despite the increasing involvement of parents as therapists in interventions for their children with autism, research to date has focused almost exclusively on the outcome for the child, and little is known about the effects of involvement on the whole family. This is true even of highly intensive home-based approaches such as the Son-Rise Program (SRP), the focus of the present paper. A longitudinal questionnaire-based study is reported which investigated a number of potential positive and negative effects for the family, how these changed over time, and their relation to child characteristics and patterns of intervention implementation.


Questionnaires examining family demographics, patterns of intervention use and perceived family effects were distributed three times over the course of a year to families who had attended an initial training course in the use of the SRP.


The results indicated that, although involvement led to more drawbacks than benefits for the families over time, family stress levels did not rise in all cases. Few relationships were found between family effects and patterns of intervention use, although there was a strong connection with parental perceptions of intervention efficacy.


The findings of the present study emphasize the need for those supporting families using home-based interventions to consider the needs of the whole family. This may be especially important if there are periods during which the family find the intervention to be less effective. Families embarking on such intensive approaches may also benefit from considering ways in which any disruption to family life can be minimized.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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