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 15 Number 2 – General Issue


Defining Risk for Preschoolers With Disabilities and predicting Educational Performance
Denise St. Clair, Harriotte Heinzen, Frank F. Jenkins, and Elaine Carlson

This paper evaluates risks for poor educational outcomes among preschoolers with disabilities using a nationally representative sample of 3,000 children who were included in the Pre-Elementary Education Longitudinal Study (PEELS). The authors addressed three questions: 1) Can individual, familial, and temperament attributes be used to define one or more latent risk factors; 2) How do these risk factors relate to specific academic outcomes; and, 3) How do these relationships vary by race/ethnicity and metropolitan status? To answer these questions, they created factor scales for child, familial, and temperment risk factors, and used them as predictors of academic outcomes. Results indicate that the factor scales were successful predictors of risk.

Community and Residential Integration, and Paid Employment Go Hand-In-Hand - A Collaborative Inquiry
Ann-Louise Davidson

The process of community and residential integration has been the subject of many inquiries since deinstitutionalization started becoming popular in the world's richer nations. This study involved adults with intellectual disabilities who were implicated in LiveWorkPlay's programs in Ottawa. Five adults with intellectual disabilities were recruited for this collaborative action research. For this study I used a collection of tools, which have been designed to involve participants in the data collection, analysis, and interpretation processes. Findings show that for our participants, obtaining paid employment is a major priority in community and residential integration process. Several suggestions are made for future research, such as conducting process-driven studies and involving participants in all phases of the research process.

Emotion Regulation and Intellectual Disability
Kelly S. McClure, Jacqueline Halpern, Pamela A. Wolper, John J. Donahue

Despite the plethora of published studies on emotion regulation, relatively few have discussed their applicability to individuals with intellectual disability. This paper discusses the components of emotion regulation that have been studied in intellectually disabled populations (emotion development, recognition and understanding, as well as self and behaviour regulation). We conclude with specific recommendations for future studies so that intellectually disabled populations can be represented within the emotion regulation literature.

L'autisme selon la theorie neurodeveloppementale

This article presents a summary of the current state of knowledge concerning the neurodevelopmental dysfunctions identified in 4 to 5 year old children with autism. This literature review focuses on the identification of the main cerebral structures which are affected in the case of children with autism. The author examines the consequences of these dysfunctions on psychological development, and describes some of the neurological dysfunctions that are specific to autism, some of which are apparent from birth while others manifest themselves later in childhood. This article stresses the fundamental contribution which this evidence can make to our understanding of the heterogeneity in the behavioural manifestations associated with autism.


Brief Reports

A Comparison of Clients With a Dual Diagnosis Referred to Specialized Clinical and Crisis-Support Programs
Stacy E. White, Yona Lunsky, Clara Ko, Jillian Carlyle, and Trevor Lumb

The Dual Diagnosis program (DDP) at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the Griffin Community Support Network (GCSN) work in partnership to serve individuals with a dual diagnosis in Toronto. The present study compared clients referred to the DDP, a specialized clinical service (n=51), to those referred to the GCSN, a crisis-support program (n=51). Client groups differed with respect to service needs, referral sources, place of residence and legal involvement. Similarities included demographics, psychiatric profile, and history of mental health hospitalization. Implications for dual diagnosis service provision and directions for future research are discussed.

Comparison of Clients with Mild and More Severe Intellectual Disabilities Referred to a Dual Diagnosis Service
Jonny Elserafi, Stacy E. White, and Yona Lunsky

Among those with a dual diagnosis, clinical profiles may differ by functioning level (mild versus severe intellectual disability). Few studies have examined these differences. This study examined differences in rates of primary diagnosis, prescribed medication, risk classification for problem behaviours, and demographic variables between individuals with mild and more severe intellectual disability (ID). Schizophrenia was more common in adults with mild ID and individuals with moderate to severe ID were more likely to be classified as presenting with significant disruptive, destructive or aggressive behaviour. The two groups displayed similar psychotropic medication profiles. Possible implications of these results are discussed.

Caregiver Versus Self-Reported Views on What is Important to Clients With Intellectual Disability
Michelle A. Viecili, Yona Lunsky, and Carol Strike

Using data from preliminary research on the use of the new service application package in Ontario, caregiver and client perspectives on what is important in the lives of adults with intellectual disabilities were examined. A qualitative analysis of the differences between what is important to individuals with intellectual disability and what others think is important for them was conducted for a sample of 92 individuals and their caregivers. When responses of the two groups were compared, no agreement was found for 44% of the cases. Some agreement was found for 39% of the cases and strong agreement was found for 17% of client/caregiver dyads. The priority areas of the two groups differed, with clients prioritizing Family and Friends and Recreational Activities and caregivers prioritizing Health and Safety and Self-Determination.

Comparison of Referrals of Individuals With and Without a Diagnosis of Psychotic Disorder to a Specialized Dual Diagnosis Program
Anna M. Palucka, Yona Lunsky, Tim Gofine, Stacy E. White, and Margaret Reid

It is well recognized that individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID) are at an increased risk of having mental health difficulties including psychotic disorders. The prevalence rates of psychotic disorders are generally estimated to be around 3%, much higher than in the general population. This study reviewed all referrals to a specialized dual diagnosis program between 2006 and 2008 to investigate differences between individuals diagnosed with a psychotic disorder and those without. In addition, the study examined a sub-sample of individuals with a diagnosis of psychosis who received inpatient consultation. Those who were admitted and discharged with the diagnosis of psychotic disorder were compared with those who had the diagnosis of psychotic disorder at admission but not at discharge on a number of demographic, diagnostic/ clinical and treatment variables. The results indicate that psychotic disorder was the most frequent psychiatric diagnosis (20%). Individuals with a psychotic disorder diagnosis were more likely to have a milder form of ID, less likely to have a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, and more likely to be admitted to the inpatient service. However, only about half of the individuals admitted with a psychotic disorder diagnosis kept that diagnosis at discharge, suggesting that at least in some individuals, psychosis can be misdiagnosed.

Exploring Treatment Outcomes of Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorder in a Specialized Dual Diagnosis Inpatient Program
Candis Kokoski, Stacy E. White, Anna M. Palucka, and Lona Lunsky

Patients with an intellectual disability and mental health problems (dual diagnosis) can benefit from specialized, multidisciplinary inpatient treatment. However, the benefits of specialized inpatient treatment for the subpopulation of dual diagnosis patients with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are unknown. The purpose of the current study was to examine the outcome of inpatient treatment for 9 individuals with ASD, in comparison to 9 patients with a dual diagnosis without ASD. The two groups varied in their reasons for admission and level of ID. Overall, the ASD group appears to be more impaired clinically at both admission and discharge, as measured by the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF), Reiss Screen for Maladaptive Behaviour (Reiss Screen) and Aberrant Behaviour Checklist (ABC). Both groups showed improvement on the GAF from admission to discharge, but changes on Reiss and ABC scores varied. There was no difference with respect to length of stay. Findings from this study suggest there may be differences between patients with and without ASD in terms of their response to i

Most Pressing Environmental Hazards Affecting Children and Youth and the Connection With Intellectual and Developmental Disability - Results from Canadian High School Student Focus Groups
Brendan Polley, Kathleen Wheeler, and Maire Percy

The causes of much intellectual and developmental disability (IDD), including autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and cerebral palsy are not well understood. Genetic factors affecting host susceptibility to toxic agents in the environment may be involved. In the present study, the opinions of secondary school students pertaining to environmental health concerns were collected using a semi-structured questionnaire in a series of focus groups. Participants identified quality of food, sanitation and water quality most frequently as factors thought to promote good health. None of the participants mentioned possible connections between environmental toxins and IDDs. Although participants were concerned about the effects of environmental hazards on themselves, their friends and families, they said it was difficult for them to think about effects on an unborn fetus because of their age and life experience. This pilot study suggests that there is a pressing need for promotion of education among teenagers about environmental hazards affecting fetal health and the health of children and youth.


Media Reviews

Autism Chic - A New Path to Exclusion?
Esther Ignagni

As someone whose life is not personally touched by autism, I have been wondering what to make of its growing prominence in mainstream media. Suddenly, cultural commentators are bringing autistic renderings into our view. We seem surrounded.

"Our Compass" Review
Jennifer Paterson

Our Compass is an educational documentary film that profiles the stories of eight youth who attend Compass, a weekly drop in group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQQ) youth who have been labelled with an intellectual disability. The film is narrated by the youth and each youth discusses issues such as coming out as LGBTQQ, sexuality, gender identity, coming out as disabled, love, dating, families and how they deal with oppression and loneliness. Overall, the film is excellent and has many strengths that will appeal to a wide variety of audiences.