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Developing and evaluating a parent-child intervention for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A feasibility study

Ryan, G. (2023). Developing and evaluating a parent-child intervention for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A feasibility study. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Around two thirds of autistic children have no additional language or intellectual disabilities (Chiarotti & Venerosi, 2020; Rose et al., 2016) but instead they experience a wide range of subtler cognitive difficulties, including diminished episodic and autobiographical memory (Bowler, 2007; Desaunay et al., 2020), theory of mind (“ToM”; Baron-Cohen et al., 2001) and self-concept (Lind, 2010) and are often diagnosed much later in childhood (Lupindo et al., 2022). Despite their poor long-term outcomes (Howlin, 2021), there is a paucity of appropriate evidence-based interventions available for this population.

A growing body of research has reported encouraging findings on the relationship between training parents in “elaborative reminiscence” (ER) and improved outcomes for typically developing children, (Waters et al., 2019; Bird & Reese, 2006). Yet, to date, no experimental study has investigated its potential for autistic children and reviews of ER interventions have been narrow in scope. The present research is the first of its kind, which aimed to investigate the feasibility, acceptability and preliminary impact of an ER intervention for autistic children using three studies: 1) a systematic review and meta-analysis of experimental ER literature; 2) a randomised controlled feasibility study comparing ER to a control intervention (“present-tense talk”) for 19 autistic children (aged 7-12 years) and their caregivers; 3) post0-study interviews with 9 ER caregivers to evaluate intervention acceptability.

ER was found to be a feasible and acceptable intervention for this population, subject to modifications. For example, reducing intervention dosage to decrease burden for parents and improving parent training to increase child engagement. Preliminary evidence confirmed the hypothesis that ER was beneficial for children’s memory, but not their ToM or self-concept. Recommendations are made to address the limitations of this work (e.g., using more appropriate measures of ToM and self-concept) and inform the development of a future pilot trial.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Ryan Thesis 2023 PDF-A.pdf] Text - Draft Version
This document is not freely accessible until 30 November 2026 due to copyright restrictions.


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