Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Seven families participated in a behavioural training program for parents of mentally retarded children. The goals of this research were to: conduct a more extensive and systematic assessment of behavioural generality following basic behavioural training; determine how certain task characteristics affect such generalization; determine if certain forms of additional training (i.e., self-management training) enhance such generalization; assess the longterm maintenance and setting generality of parent skills following training; assess the role of individual characteristics in the initial and generalized effects of training; and provide an analysis of both therapist and client costs associated with such training.;The research design was a multiple-baseline across families with multiple generalization probes across child tasks. Parent training was administered in two successive phases: basic training followed by self-management training. Direct observations of parent/child teaching interactions provided measures of parents' ability to implement behavioural teaching skills and measures of the generality of these skills across a variety of child tasks.;Although all parents showed marked increases in their ability to effectively implement behavioural teaching skills in an easy target task during basic training, different parents showed different patterns of generalized teaching to non-target child tasks. During self-management training, parents who had not yet generalized accurate teaching to all non-target tasks did so, while parents who had already demonstrated generalized teaching with certain tasks often showed additional increases. Changes in children's correct responding to parental teaching generally parallelled changes in parent behaviour. Changes in parent and child behaviour were maintained over a 4-month follow-up period. Parents also demonstrated high rates of accurate teaching with new child tasks in the home setting, up to 5 months following the termination of training. Pretraining measures of parent stress were significantly correlated with parent and child behaviour change. Overall, parent satisfaction with the training program was very high.;It was postulated that the self-management procedures were successful because they promoted the transfer of stimulus control from the parent trainer to the parent. Overall, this research helped to identify a socially valid training approach that is effective in promoting generalized and maintained behaviour change at a cost that is not prohibitive. The clinical implications of this training approach were discussed.



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