Effects of training with and without cultural adaptations to Latino caregivers of children with autism




Vargas Londoño, Fabiola

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For families of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), caregiver training has the power to positively impact the child’s development and the family’s quality of life. With training, caregivers can learn how to implement strategies to successfully reduce challenging behavior and increase adaptive skills in their child with ASD. Nevertheless, culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) families face unique challenges to access services that match their culture and language. Furthermore, the scarcity of appropriate practices when serving CLD families and the shortage of bilingual therapists add to the limitations of providing culturally adapted services for these families. To reduce this disparity for CLD families, it is essential to better understand the impact of current practices, when there is a mismatch between the family and training language, and when training has been culturally adapted. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of implementing caregiver training with and without cultural and linguistic adaptations on four Latino caregivers of children with ASD. A delayed multiple baseline design across caregiver-child dyads with an embedded alternating treatment design was conducted to investigate the relative effects of language on instruction, using English versus Spanish languages and teaching caregivers, via Telehealth, two different skills: (a) matching to sample and (b) motor imitation during play. Caregiver social validity, the child’s skill acquisition, and the training efficiency were also assessed. Results indicated that CLD families can benefit from training regardless of the language mismatch and that, with training, caregivers can positively impact their child’s performance. However, training that has been culturally adapted to match the family language has proven to be more efficient. In these circumstances, caregivers acquired the skill in fewer sessions, and their learning process was more stable. Caregivers indicated that the training in their native language was easier and more comfortable. Also, caregivers were more involved during training sessions that were culturally adapted. For instance, caregivers shared more personal information — “personalismo”—asked more questions, and showed more indices of happiness (e.g., laughing). Treatment gains were maintained during two-week and one-month follow-ups. Potential implications for policy and practice and recommendations for practitioners working with CLD families of children with ASD are provided, in addition to possible areas of future research.


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