Support Professionals and Students in the
Field of Developmental Disabilities

Journal on Developmental Disabilities

The Journal on Developmental Disabilities is a peer-reviewed journal with a growing regional and international readership.

Volume 14 Number 2 – General Issue


The Use of Intensive Behavioural Intervention for Children With Autism
Christina de Rivera

Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder with prevalence rates increasing yearly. Autism is characterized by impaired social interaction, specific language abnormalities, behavioural stereotypes, and a range of cognitive deficits. The presence of symptoms and the severity impairments vary from individual to individual with deficits ranging from non-verbal and severe intellectual disabilities, to high-functioning. Currently, there is no cure for autism. However, intensive behavioural intervention (IBI) is gaining worldwide popularity as the treatment of choice. Intensive behavioural interventions have roots in applied behavioural analysis. The efficacies of the methodologies that have been used worldwide have varied. This paper compares the original IBI program developed by Lovaas with the current program used by the Toronto Partnership for Autism Services. Research is needed to determine what aspects of IBI are most effective for children with autism, which children benefit the most, if IBI is needed on a continued basis to maintain gains that are made, and if IBI programs are cost-effective for the government.

Admission and Graduation Requirements for Special Education Doctoral Programs at Top 20 American Universities
Gabriela Walker

A quantitative analysis of the admissions and graduation requirements of the special education doctoral programs at top 20 universities in the United States was conducted. Admission requirements typically include an application fee, previous coursework GPA, previous field experience, GRE scores, TOEFL scores, professional writing sample(s), and enrollment. Graduation requirements include continuous enrollment, completion of courses, yearly progress reviews, doctoral products, a qualifying examination, dissertation completion, and final defense. Results indicate that the admission requirements and the quality of the instruction of the top 20 graduate education programs in the U.S. is comparable to that of the top 20 universities around the world and of the top 20 universities in the U.S.

Impact of an Instructional Manual on the Implementation of ABA Teaching Procedures by Parents of Children With Angelman Syndrome
Jane Summers and Elise Hall

This study examined the impact of a training manual on the correct implementation of ABA teaching procedures by mothers of four children with Angelman syndrome, a neurogenetic disorder associated with severe cognitive, speech, and motor impairments. Parents were instructed to teach new functional skills to their children, prior to and after being given a copy of the manual. Data were collected on the following parent behaviours: setting up the teaching environment, promoting on-task behaviour, implementing discrete teaching trials, and prompting and reinforcing correct responses. Although the overall trend was for increased competency scores after exposure to the training manual, individual differences in parental response patterns were evident.

Families of 40-Year Olds With Down Syndrome
Janet Carr

A population sample of people with Down syndrome (DS) and their families has been followed since the age of six weeks, most recently at the age of 40 when there were 28 people with DS and 16 non-disabled controls still in the study. The paper looks at the well-being of the parents and siblings of both groups, and focuses on their health, social life and friendships, and, in the case of those in the DS group, on their experience of services. Although primarily concerned with the data from age 40, where relevant, reference is made to findings from previous stages of the study.

Individualized Funding in Ontario: Report of a Provincial Study
John Lord and Peggy Hutchison

Individualized funding for people with developmental disabilities is increasingly being seen as valuable for self-determination and inclusion. Recently, the Individualized Coalition of Ontario commissioned a study to explore the practice of individualized funding. The researchers examined 130 files of people receiving individualized funding and interviewed 18 families. The results showed that people with individualized funding experienced positive outcomes. The support plan provided a foundation for building a good life. Facilitators played a major role in assisting people with planning and network development. Individuals and families generally received less funding than they requested and funding often came from multiple government sources. Although families were generally very satisfied with individualized funding, they raised a number of concerns.

A First Cytogenetic Study of Down Syndrome in Sudan
Mona Ellaithi, Therese Nilsson, Atif Elagib A, Imad Fadl-Elmula, and David Gisselsson

In this study, we report the first series of cases of Down syndrome (DS) cytogenetically analyzed in Sudan. Five children with clinical features of DS underwent cytogenetic and molecular cytogenetic analyses. Cytogenetic analysis of parents was also performed for counselling purposes. All children showed karyotypes consistent with DS. One child showed a Robertsonian translocation that was not present in either of her parents. The other cases showed classical trisomy 21. Molecular cytogenetic analysis confirmed the diagnosis in one case. Cytogenetic analysis of suspected DS is of value to objectively confirm the diagnosis and to provide a basis for genetic counselling.

Passive and Active Approach Responses in Preference Assessment for Children With Profound Multiple Disabilities and Minimal Movement
Sara Spevack, Lisa Wright, C.T. Yu, Kerri L. Walters and Stephen Holborn

We assessed the activity preferences of three children with profound multiple disabilities and minimal movement using a single stimulus presentation procedure. We recorded active approach, passive approach, and rejection responses on each trial during the assessments. Active approach included reaching for, touching, or manipulating the stimulus. Passive approach included looking at or orienting toward the stimulus and happiness indicators such as smiling. Active approaches and rejection responses were infrequent, but preference hierarchies based on passive approaches emerged for all three children. Two children were available for reinforcer testing after the preference assessments. The identified high preference activities based on passive approach responses maintained higher rates of switch pressing than the low preference activities for one child and maintained approximately the same rates of switch pressing for the second child.

Diagnostic Inventory for Screening Children (DISC): Evidence of Concurrent Validity in a Preschool Rehabilitation Setting
Sylvia L. Voelker, Timothy C. Johnston, Christine Agar, Marcia Gragg, and Rosanne Menna

The concurrent validity of the Diagnostic Inventory for Screeening Children (DISC) and the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales Survey Form was investigated in a sample of 26 preschoolers (mean age = 56.96 months, SD=5.61; 15 male, 11 female) in a rehabilitation day treatment setting. Parent and teacher report on the Vineland was comparable. Pearson correlations between the DISC and Vineland yielded an expected pattern with significant correlation between parallel scales (p<.01). Repeated measures ANOVAs comparing age equivalents for five similar DISC and Vineland scales indicated no significant differences (p>.01). The results support the concurrent validity of the DISC.

Sexual Offences of Men With Intellectual Disabilities: A View From Private Practice
Sexual Offences of Men With Intellectual Disabilities: A View From Private Practice

The literature on sexual offenders who have intellectual disabilities is sparse, and in need of additional descriptive statistics in order to begin to formulate relevant research questions. The present retrospective study examines a group of men (N=86) with intellectual disabilities who had committed sexual offences, and received assessment and treatment services in a community setting. Data are provided on their levels of intellectual functioning, additional disabling conditions, charges, classification, treatment and rates of recidivism. Suggestions are made for prospective research studies into the efficacy of various treatments.


Brief Reports

Monitoring Outcomes in Children and Youth Receiving Psychotherapy at Surrey Place Centre
Cinda Clark, Lynne Sinclair, Susana Correia, and Barry Isaacs

The limited amount of literature available suggests the utility of psychotherapy for people with developmental disabilities. The present study assessed the effects of an individual psychotherapy program with 10 children and teens, as measured by the Developmental Behavior Checklist and the Nisonger Child Behavior Rating Form (Parent Version). Results, using parent report, indicated that there was overall improvement from the beginning of the program to the six month point. Two suggestions are provided for evaluation improvement: 1) because the measures did not always capture the concerns of the clients, the General Change Questionnaires were developed to supplement data gathered; and 2) because the perspective of the client is missing from the evaluation, the Dominic Interactive is being pilot tested.

Parental Stress and Coping in Families of Children With and Without Developmental Delays
Vicki Lopes, Tessen Clifford, Patricia Minnes, and Helene Ouellette-Kuntz

Parents of children with developmental delays experience increased levels of parental stress, often related to the severity of their child's behaviour. However, the experience of stress is dependent on how individuals perceive their situation and whether coping strategies (i.e., problem-focused, emotion-focused, and appraisal- or perception-focused coping) are used to manage stress. Forty-six parents of preschool children with and without developmental delays participated in telephone interviews as part of a longitudinal study on school transition. Parents completed measures about their child's behaviour, stress and use of coping strategies. Parents of children with developmental delays experienced greater levels of stress, and had children with higher maladaptive behaviour than children without delays. Despite differences in reported stress, parents of children with delays were using similar amounts and styles of coping as parents of children without delays. Future research should investigate the relationship between the various types of coping and their effect on reducing stress.

Celiac Disease: Its Many Faces and Relevance to Developmental Disabilities
Maire Percy and Evan Propst

Celiac disease (CD) is a very common medical disorder in the general population. It results from sensitivity to a protein called gluten that is found in many grains. There presently is no cure for CD, but treatment with a gluten-free diet can effectively control or reverse symptoms in a high percentage of patients. CD is under recognized and under diagnosed in the general population and in those with developmental disabilities. Consequences of CD can include symptoms referred to as digestive as well as others that are behavioural, neurological or neuropsychological. Furthermore, there is evidence for an association between CD and early cognitive decline or dementia in the general population. In this short report, we briefly review what is known about CD and its consequences in the general population and in people with developmental disabilities. Unusual terms are explained briefly in the Glossary. This report was first presented in poster form at the 2007 Annual Symposium of the Research Special Interest Group.

Family Quality of Life: Preliminary Analyses From an On-going Project
Nicole T. Petrowski, Meaghan Edwards, Barry J. Isaacs, Nehama Baum, and Ivan Brown

This paper presents brief descriptive analyses of preliminary data gathered as part of a larger on-going project that explores quality of life in families who have one or more members with an intellectual disability. Sixty-four primary caregivers from the Greater Toronto Area were interviewed using the Family Quality of Life Survey (Brown et al., 2006). Families indicated strengths in certain life areas such as family relationships but reported challenges in other areas including support from outside the immediate family. Future research efforts and implications for service delivery and policy are discussed.

Evaluation of the Journal on Developmental Disabilities
Jason Singh Mukhi and Maire Percy

The Ontario Association on Developmental Disabilities (OADD) has published the Journal on Developmental Disabilities (JoDD) since 1992. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the JoDD by conducting a readership survey. PhpESP (Easy survey package) was used to design, create, and deploy a web-based survey to staff working at Surrey Place Centre; OADD board members; authors who published manuscripts in JoDD; members of the OADD Research Special Interest Group; and, to general members of OADD. Eighty-seven of 667 questionnaires were received, giving a response rate of 13.0%. The results indicated that OADD members are regular readers of JoDD; the majority of the readers read JoDD on-line; the content of the JoDD is appropriate; the quality and format of JoDD are acceptable; and, manuscript submission and processing usually are being carried out efficiently. Nevertheless, there are some areas of the JoDD that could be improved.