Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Koch, D. Shane
The science of behavior analysis is most notably recognized for its work with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the development of language in individuals with and without ASD. As an extension of a behavior-analytic approach to language, Relational Frame Theory (RFT) posits that relating between stimuli is foundational for human language and cognition. This modern-day account of human verbal events also includes psychological distress, which is frequently experienced among family members of individuals with ASD. The effects of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which is derived from RFT, have been evaluated with caregivers of individuals with ASD and demonstrated empirical support. Despite all these advancements, researchers have not adequately considered cultural and linguistic factors in the provision of these approaches for diverse populations, such as Hispanics/Latinxs. Moreover, there is a paucity of research using such scientific approaches for caregivers and siblings of individuals with ASD. Considering that Hispanics/Latinxs are a growing population in the United States, behavior-analytic interventions should be culturally adapted. The purpose of this study was to culturally adapt treatments rooted in the science of human behavior specifically for Hispanic/Latinx families that care for a child with ASD. Specifically, sociocultural factors and Hispanic/Latinx cultural values were considered in the development of such interventions to promote the skill set and well-being of the family as a unit. In the first experiment, the evaluation of SPOP in transferring relational frames from Spanish to English in Hispanic/Latinx children with ASD was examined. Here, the language of instruction (i.e., English vs. Spanish) differed for participants, depending on their primary languages. SPOP demonstrated effectiveness for some relations with one participant, however, direct training was employed to teach correct relational responding. In the second experiment, the effects of culturally adapted ACT were evaluated on statements of psychological flexibility and inflexibility, and self-report measures for Spanish-speaking Hispanic/Latinx caregivers of children with ASD. Results demonstrated higher percentages of statements of psychological flexibility across all conditions, and a statistically significant difference in self-reported thought suppression post-treatment. Finally, the third experiment compared the effects of culturally adapted family-based ACT and non-culturally adapted non-family-based ACT on self-monitored committed actions and self-report measures for Hispanic/Latinx siblings of children with ASD. Results indicated statistically significant differences in reported committed actions before and after treatment, with changes in self-report measures post-treatment. Together, these experiments demonstrate the clinical and social significance of taking cultural and linguistic factors of diverse populations into consideration with behavior-analytic services.
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