Day to day challenges faced by the families of teenagers with a developmental disability are the focus of a new University of Queensland study, set to launch in April.
The study, led by University of Queensland researcher Tahlia Gash and supervised by Associate Professor Kate Sofronoff, will aim to introduce some simple strategies to parents of teens with a developmental disability over eight weeks as part of a group program.
Professor Sofronoff says the study idea came from many years of hearing from parents that the teen years are particularly difficult and that new issues arise for parents of teens with disabilities.
She says the study is needed as these parents face “enormous challenges” particularly concerning behaviour, leaving parents feeling overwhelmed by thinking about how best to manage their teenager and still provide the best opportunity for the teen to maximise their potential.
“For these families, behavioural problems can seem all-consuming and can affect the whole family,” she explains.
“Life can be so stressful, many parents or carers worry about their child’s outlook and how they will be able to function as a member of the community as they grow into adulthood.
“What we are exploring is whether simple strategies delivered over an eight-week group program can give parents more confidence to manage their teen’s behaviour and encourage their teen’s independence and resilience.
“We know this is the case with young children and now we want to help families build better relationships with their teens.”
The group program, Building Bridges Triple P, is free and will be run at the University of Queensland Psychology Clinic in St Lucia every weekend from Saturday 14 April.
It will run over eight consecutive weeks with five weekly 90 to 120 minute face-to-face sessions, and three sessions conducted over the phone to help keep families on track with the strategies.
Currently the program is looking to recruit participants and is seeking parents only, requiring around 60 families.
“To evaluate the program we need about 60 families to participate and this will allow us to say whether the program is effective and helpful to the families,” Professor Sofronoff says.
“We currently have parents registered to participate but we would like to offer it to more families - and if it is helpful then it can be offered as a program more widely.
“This is an important area of study because it is currently under represented.
“There are parenting programs available for parents of children with developmental disabilities but very little on offer for parents of teens and the need is great.”
Expressions of interest in participating in the study can be made via email or by calling 0423 333 160.