Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Kathy Bradley-Klug, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Linda Raffaele-Mendez, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Ferron, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Amanda Keating, Psy.D., BCBA-D


disability, GSSTP, parent training, parenting


The challenges associated with parenting are often compounded for parents of children with developmental disabilities. Children with developmental disabilities are at increased risk for exhibiting mental health concerns and challenging behavior compared to their typically developing peers. Parents who are raising a child with a disability tend to experience increased demands, higher levels of stress, and greater challenges associated with the physical, emotional, and behavioral needs of their children than do parents of typically developing children. Parent training interventions grounded in social learning theory and behavioral principles have proven to be effective in improving both child and parent outcomes in these families.

One evidence-based parent training intervention that targets parents of children with disabilities is the Group Stepping Stones Triple P (GSSTP) intervention. Research supports the effectiveness of GSSTP for decreasing children’s challenging behavior, decreasing parent stress, improving parental self-efficacy and competence, and increasing positive interactions between parents and their children, among other positive outcomes. Despite the extensive research on the efficacy of the GSSTP, few studies have examined the qualitative accounts of parents who have participated in this group intervention. The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions that parents of children with disabilities or developmental delays have about the acceptability, effectiveness, and overall experience of engaging in Group Stepping Stones Triple P. Using a case study approach, this study attempted to gain an in-depth account of the experiences of parents of children with a disability who participated in the GSSTP intervention. Findings from the present study suggest that the parents who engaged in GSSTP were experiencing numerous challenges related to parenting one or more children who have a disability. The majority of parents described positive parent-child relationships with some improvements noted post-intervention. Parents who enrolled in GSSTP expressed a desire to learn new strategies for helping their children develop new skills and they also were seeking help with preventing and manage their children’s challenging behavior. Overall, parents found the GSSTP intervention to be acceptable and they reported that the most beneficial aspect was learning new parenting strategies, such as new ways of communicating with their child, planning ahead to prevent and manage challenging behavior, and using rewards to encourage desirable behavior. Other benefits parents noted were the support they received from other parents as well as GSSTP facilitators and improvements in their co-parenting relationships. Parents provided recommendations for changes to the content and delivery of the intervention, as well as suggestions for grouping participants according to specific characteristics, such as marital status and cultural background.

Based on the findings of the present study, future research should examine parent perceptions and outcomes following a shortened GSSTP intervention, such as a 4- or 5-week class. Future research also should examine the impact of various formats of the intervention, such as briefer sessions or multiple sessions per week. It also would be of interest to compare outcomes of participants who receive GSSTP alone and those who receive GSSTP enhanced with some level of Partner Support. Lastly, future studies would benefit from examining the outcomes and qualitative perceptions of parents from various cultural groups who have completed GSSTP as well as parent perceptions at 6 months or 1 year following the intervention.