Moderators of Parent Training for Disruptive Behaviors in Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Luc Lecavalier, Tristram Smith, Cynthia Johnson, Karen Bearss, Naomi Swiezy, Michael G. Aman, Denis G. Sukhodolsky, Yanhong Deng, James Dziura, Lawrence Scahill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


We conducted a 6 month, randomized trial of parent training (PT) versus a parent education program (PEP) in 180 young children (158 boys, 22 girls), ages 3–7 years, with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). PT was superior to PEP in decreasing disruptive and noncompliant behaviors. In the current study, we assess moderators of treatment response in this trial. Thirteen clinical and demographic variables were evaluated as potential moderators of three outcome variables: the Aberrant Behavior Checklist-Irritability subscale (ABC-I), Home Situations Questionnaire (HSQ), and Clinical Global Impressions-Improvement Scale (CGI-I). We used an intent-to-treat model and random effects regression. Neither IQ nor ASD severity moderated outcome on the selected outcome measures. Severity of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and anxiety moderated outcomes on the ABC-I and HSQ. For instance, there was a 6.6 point difference on the ABC-I between high and low ADHD groups (p =.05) and a 5.3 point difference between high and low Anxiety groups (p =.04). Oppositional defiant disorder symptoms and household income moderated outcomes on the HSQ. None of the baseline variables moderated outcome on the CGI-I. That IQ and ASD symptom severity did not moderate outcome suggests that PT is likely to benefit a wide range of children with ASD and disruptive behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1235-1245
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017



  • ADHD
  • Anxiety
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Moderator
  • Parent training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this

Lecavalier, L., Smith, T., Johnson, C., Bearss, K., Swiezy, N., Aman, M. G., Sukhodolsky, D. G., Deng, Y., Dziura, J., & Scahill, L. (2017). Moderators of Parent Training for Disruptive Behaviors in Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 45(6), 1235-1245.