Dr David Preece

ESIPP – Developing parent education for families living with autism in south east Europe


The presence of autism in the family can challenge parents, especially in the absence of accurate information and advice. Providing such information, and teaching parents to use autism-friendly strategies, can improve personal, educational and social outcomes for those on the autism spectrum and their families. However, in some parts of Europe such support is non-existent or extremely limited.
This presentation reports on a 3-year project funded by the European Union to develop, provide and evaluate locally appropriate parent education in autism in Croatia, Cyprus and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The project is evaluated using a combined process and outcome evaluation methodology, including both qualitative and quantitative methods.
The paper presents an overview of the work undertaken by the partnership to date. This includes the identification of the core curriculum the development of the training materials and local training teams, and the establishment of the parent training courses. Findings from the analysis of quantitative and qualitative data collected from the first four cohorts of parents trained in the three countries (n= approx. 240) with regard to their experience of living with autism, the training and its impact are shared. Implications for the further development of the project are identified and discussed, as is the importance of providing parent education.

Autism, parents, parent education, quality of life.


I am motivated by the respect that I have for those on the autism spectrum and their families, and by all that I have learned from them. This has underpinned almost forty years of working in this field.


Professional Profile
David Preece PhD works as an Associate Professor at the University of Northampton, UK. He has worked at the University since 2012; before this he had a 30 year career as a practitioner and manager in the field of social care across all areas of disability, but with a main focus on autism. His main areas of research interest include the impact of autism and disability upon the family; consultation with children and young people with disabilities; and intervention approaches in autism and disability. His research has a strong international focus and he is currently supervising PhD students undertaking research on autism in India,Nigeria and Cyprus.

 Previous work
Odunsi, R., Garner, P. & Preece, D (2017) Nigerian teachers’ understanding of autism spectrum disorder: a comparative study of teachers from urban and rural Lagos State (in press – Disability, CBR & Inclusive Development).
Preece, D. & Trajkovski, V. (2017) Parent education in autism: a literature review. Croatian Review of Rehabilitation Research, 53(1), 118-128.
Preece D., Symeou, L., Stošić, J., Troshanska, J., Mavrou, K., Theodorou, E., & Frey Škrinjar, J. (2017) Accessing parental perspectives to inform the development of parent education in autism in south-eastern Europe. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 32(2), 252-269.
Preece, D. (2014) A matter of perspective: the experience of daily life and support of mothers, fathers and siblings living with children on the autism spectrum with high support needs, Good Autism Practice, 15 (1), 81-90.