Autism Parent Navigators

Mental Health In-home Parent Skill-Based Does Not Currently Meet Criteria

Autism Parent Navigators (APN) is a peer mentoring adaptation of the Family Foundations (FF) parenting education program designed for couples with a young child recently diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In APN, Parent Navigators, who also have a child diagnosed with ASD, serve as mentors for the couple. APN aims to help couples develop a team approach to caregiving, become strong advocates for the child, improve consistency in the home, and lower the severity of ASD symptoms. In APN, couples are defined as any two individuals who plan to care for the child together and can include the parent and another individual such as a grandparent or new romantic partner. Couples participate in APN together and typically begin APN classes following their child’s ASD diagnosis. 


Parent Navigators deliver APN to couples in their home over six classes. Class 1 focuses on introducing the program, providing education about ASD, and a discussion of the couple’s experience of their child’s ASD diagnosis. Class 2 focuses on tools for understanding the child’s needs through their behavior, tracking behavior patterns, and understanding the connection between parent and child feelings. Class 3 instructs couples on changing negative thoughts, recognizing the strengths of the parenting team, and building a positive relationship with the child. Class 4 explains effective communication strategies, tools for managing difficult situations, the importance of mutual support within the parenting team, and how consistency can affect the child’s behavior. Class 5 focuses on strategies for determining whether a problem can be solved, practicing problem solving, and reflecting on the couples’ progress through the class series. Class 6 ends the series by explaining the importance of teamwork, setting goals to continue advocacy and navigation skills, and reflecting on strategies learned and services obtained for the child. 

APN does not currently meet criteria to receive a rating because no studies met eligibility criteria for review.

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed: Nov 2023


The following sources informed the program or service description, target population, and program or service delivery and implementation information: the program or service manual, and the program or service developer’s website. 

This information does not necessarily represent the views of the program or service developers. For more information on how this program or service was reviewed, visit the Review Process page or download the Handbook.

Target Population

APN is designed for couples with a young child recently diagnosed with ASD. In APN, couples are defined as any two individuals who plan to care for the child together and can include the parent and another individual such as a grandparent or new romantic partner.  


Parent Navigators deliver APN to couples in six weekly classes.

Location/Delivery Setting
Recommended Locations/Delivery Settings

Parent Navigators deliver APN in person to a couple in their home.

Education, Certifications and Training

Parent Navigators must have lived experience as the parent of a child diagnosed with ASD. APN recommends that Parent Navigators complete the APN training program. APN training covers facilitation strategies such as fostering supportive relationships, building rapport with parents, promoting parent empowerment, giving advice, active listening, checking biases, sharing their own parenting experiences, managing conflict, and practicing self-care. In addition, training provides guidelines for visiting the home, such as appropriate behavior, safety, and mandated reporting. Parent Navigators also get training specific to ASD, including avoiding assumptions based on the Parent Navigator’s own parenting experience, acknowledging each family has unique needs, practicing self-disclosure, and maintaining an appropriate peer relationship with the parent. Following training, Parent Navigators receive ongoing support and supervision. 

Program or Service Documentation
Book/Manual/Available documentation used for review

Feinberg, M. E., & Hock. R. (2020). Parent Navigators manual. Family Gold.   

Available languages

APN materials are available in English. 

Other supporting materials

About FF 

FF Frequently Asked Questions  

For More Information


Phone: (814) 954-0262 


Note: The details on Dosage; Location; Education, Certifications, and Training; Other Supporting Materials; and For More Information sections above are provided to website users for informational purposes only. This information is not exhaustive and may be subject to change.

Results of Search and Review Number of Studies Identified and Reviewed for Autism Parent Navigators
Identified in Search 1
Eligible for Review 0
Rated High 0
Rated Moderate 0
Rated Low 0
Reviewed Only for Risk of Harm 0
Sometimes study results are reported in more than one document, or a single document reports results from multiple studies. Studies are identified below by their Prevention Services Clearinghouse study identification numbers. To receive a rating of supported or well-supported, the favorable evidence for a program or service must have been obtained from research conducted in a usual care or practice setting.

Studies Not Eligible for Review

Study 14927

Hock, R. M. R., Aimee, K., Feinberg, M. E., Jones, D. E., & Holbert, A. A. (2022). A pilot study of a co-parenting intervention for parents of children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Child & Family Studies, 31(8), 2091-2107.

This study is ineligible for review because it does not use an eligible study design (Study Eligibility Criterion 4.1.4).