Catalight Unveils Wellbeing Scale to Assess and Enhance the Lives of Families Living with Intellectual Developmental Disabilities and AutismProven Accurate by Data Analysis in Recent Study, Scale Will Be Made Available to Outside Agencies

WALNUT CREEK, Calif., Feb. 29, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Having long prioritized wellbeing as the ultimate measure of its service to families of children with intellectual developmental disabilities (I/DD) including autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Catalight introduces its Family Wellbeing Scale – a one-of-a-kind industry gauge that has been validated by statistical analysis in a recently published study.

Catalight, one of the nation’s largest non-profit providers of autism and developmental disabilities services and research in the United States, offers solutions that challenge the status quo by focusing on care that goes beyond traditional outcome measures augmented with family wellbeing, affordability and efficiency.

For more than a decade, Catalight has sought to define wellbeing as not just a nebulous, variable feeling but as a measure of treatment success. In serving clients with I/DD and autism, clinicians utilize various strategies to improve the lives of the individual and their families, decrease stress and save time.

“The Wellbeing Scale focuses on the holistic health and happiness of the individuals, families and communities we serve,” said clinical psychologist and Catalight’s Vice President of Clinical Excellence Lindsey Sneed, Ph.D., BCBA-D. “Wellbeing for people with I/DD and their families is historically significantly lower compared to the general population. We needed a way to measure if and how our work was impacting clients and families.”

After not finding any wellbeing scales that serve the I/DD population, Catalight set out to create this scale in 2020. A sliding points survey was created asking families to answer 15 questions twice yearly ranging from “Family members feel safe in our family” to “We are able to resolve conflict and support each other when things go wrong” and “We enjoy spending time together.”

Over the four years, the sample size of respondents has grown to 3,106 families in the Catalight network, including affiliate companies Easterseals Hawaii and Easterseals Northern California. The scale itself and its subsequent psychometrics turned heads at the International Society for Autism Research annual meeting last year in Stockholm, Sweden.

The pioneering initiative is designed to assess the overall wellbeing of families on a micro and macro level, emphasizing the importance of holistic success beyond traditional methods.

“With this scale, wellbeing scores are something we can now analyze both for all families – as a way to see if we’re improving as a whole – and for each family we serve,” Sneed said. “If, for instance, we see a particular family’s wellbeing is stagnating or regressing, we know we need to alter our approach. Maybe we’ve set a goal that’s not achievable and it’s causing stress or maybe there’s a personal matter that we can address.”

The scale has undergone rigorous validation through meticulous statistical analysis, ensuring its reliability and effectiveness in measuring the multifaceted aspects of family wellbeing.

The large, diverse sample size of the Catalight Family Wellbeing Scale has allowed for several psychometric tests that have notably shown a strong positive relationship with parental self-efficacy and a strong negative relationship with parental stress. Details of the data analysis are included in Sneed’s recent study “Initial Psychometric Properties of the Catalight Family Wellbeing Scale,” published by the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders on Feb. 1, 2024.

Unlike conventional success metrics that often prioritize goal attainment and long hours of treatment, Catalight’s Family Wellbeing Scale recognizes that true happiness encompasses physical, emotional, social and mental aspects. By considering a broad range of factors, the scale provides a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of family wellbeing.

“At Catalight, we believe that true success is defined by the wellbeing of our clients and their families,” said Catalight’s Senior Vice President of Sustainable Program Design Michelle Befi, a co-author of the study and a licensed marriage and family therapist. “We’re not looking to simply tick off the traditional boxes. We help identify changes that will be truly meaningful for families and make a tangible, positive improvement in their lives. We let families choose the treatment path that’s best for them.”

Catalight recently made the Family Wellbeing Scale available for external agencies, recognizing the broader impact it can have on the field of family support, healthcare and social services. Catalight also utilizes similar Adult Wellbeing and Youth Wellbeing Scales for individuals within its network. The Youth Wellbeing Scale study is currently in progress with equally positive psychometric properties. The company is seeking to collaborate with other agencies to bolster sample sizes for the Adult Wellbeing Scale before conducting psychometric analyses.

“We envision a future where organizations across various sectors can benefit from our wellbeing scales to create positive and lasting impacts,” Sneed said.

Information on all three wellbeing scores and how outside agencies can utilize them can be found here.