A/Professor Marie Yap
A/Professor Marie Yap

A/Professor Marie Yap

Associate Professor Marie Yap Head of Parenting and Youth Mental Health Research Group.

‘Feasibility and acceptability pilot trial of a coach-supported, online parenting intervention for parents of children with autism to reduce internalising problems

School of Psychological Sciences & Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health
Monash University, VIC
Awarded 2023
0-12 years Mental Health Research

“People with lived experience of autism are at increased risk of mental disorders than their non-autistic counterparts across the lifespan.”

Mental Health Research Grants

Researcher Profile

Marie Yap is an Associate Professor at Monash University and founder of the award-winning Parenting Strategies Program, which translates research evidence into actionable parenting guidelines that underpin individually-tailored online parenting interventions to prevent and reduce the impact of MH problems in children and adolescents.

On average, the parenting guidelines are downloaded >10,000 times a month, and are cited or have formed the basis for online parenting resources in over 20 countries, including Beyond Blue’s Healthy Families website. Recognised by Expertscape as a World Expert in parent-child relations (top 0.1% worldwide and top 3 in Australia, based on her Scopus-listed publications), she has extensive experience developing and implementing scalable parenting programs that have improved parenting and child mental health outcomes. Her online parenting interventions and resources have been rolled out nationally, translated into 3 other languages, and adopted in the UK, New Zealand, Malaysia and Brazil. The impact of her work has been recognised by a Young Tall Poppy Award, Scopus Young Investigator Award, and an Australian Rotary Health Mental Health Impact Award.

Project Summary

Depression and anxiety are common in children with autism spectrum disorder (henceforth, autism). Co-occurring depression and/or clinical anxiety has significant emotional, social and behavioural consequences for the child and their family at the time and into the future. Sometimes these mental health conditions affect how autism therapies and supports work for the child. Our research indicates that parents of autistic children have to take on complex care tasks and may not have the knowledge and understanding of both the needs of the child and the kinds of support that are likely to benefit the child and their family. Yet there is currently no intervention to support parents in protecting their child against common mental disorders.

To address this gap, we developed an autism-inclusive online parenting intervention, Autism*Spectrum Parenting Resilient Kids (A*SPaRK). A*SPaRK comprises: 1) individually-tailored, automated parenting feedback,
2) e-modules containing strategies to reduce the risk of depression and clinical anxiety in children,
3) one-on-one parent coaching sessions delivered via video-conferencing by a trained practitioner.

In this project, we want to know whether the A*SPaRK intervention is feasible and acceptable to parents of autistic children. We also want to find out if the intervention helps to improve parenting behaviours, parent mental health, child mental health and the child’s participation in activities.  We will recruit parents of autistic children into the project and ask them to complete online questionnaires at the time of enrolment and 4 months later (post-intervention). We will also interview participating parents and all coaches at post-intervention.

Co-Investigators: Wan Hua Sim, Professor Anthoy Jorm, Patrick Oliver, Ling Wu, Richard Haslam, Derek McCormack and Katrina Williams.

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