Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Abbey Eisenhower

Second Advisor

Alice S. Carter

Third Advisor

Laurel Wainwright


Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) exhibit high rates of externalizing behaviors compared to children with other disabilities and typically developing peers. These behavioral challenges may impede their ability to successfully transition into school settings. Higher quality relationships between parents and clinicians working with children with ASD have been shown to yield positive student outcomes. Additionally, parent involvement is considered to play a critical role in the success of interventions for children with ASD. Teachers may benefit from parents’ extensive knowledge about their child and parents may benefit from greater knowledge of school behavior plans to promote continuity of behavior plans between school and home settings. In order for teachers and parents to share and discuss information with each other, to support each other or to implement interventions in multiple environments, they must also have a comfortable relationship with each other in which they are able to listen and agree or disagree with each other. Therefore, the current study examined the role of parent-teacher relationship (PTR) quality in predicting changes in externalizing behaviors among 119 young children (mean age = 5 years, 6 months 77.3% males) with ASD over the school year. In addition, the study examined whether student-teacher relationship quality, communication frequency between parents and teachers, and classroom placement moderate the relation between PTR quality and changes in the student’s externalizing behaviors. The current study found that PTR quality did not predict changes in externalizing behaviors from the fall to spring of the school year, nor was the relation moderated by student-teacher relationship quality, communication frequency between parents and teachers, or classroom placement. The current study is one of the first studies to examine the direct impact of PTR quality on outcomes of students with ASD, specifically, externalizing behaviors, in a longitudinal design. The findings provide some support that the relation between parent and teacher perceptions of PTR are not direct. Implications for how PTR should be assessed in future studies, as well as implications of our findings are discussed.


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