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 3 – General Issue


Le profil neu
Stephane Beaulne

Autism is now defined as a neurodevelopmental syndrome which negatively affects the individual's capabilities for social interaction, communication skills, and range of interests. The identification of the very first neurodevelopmental abnormalities is all the more important in that it is possible to observe these before a diagnosis of autism has been rendered. The purpose of this article is two-fold. It is, first, to establish autistic children's age range when their parents first identify neurodevelopmental abnormalities, and second, to define the profile of some of these children, based on their parents observations. This profile appears of crucial importance, since some of the behaviours observed among these children differ, depending upon their neurological maturation. The identification of the early manifestations of neurodevelopmental abnormalities therefore can assist us in understanding the wide variety of neurodevelopmental profiles among children with autism.

A Review of Communication Intervention Research for Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Joung-Min Kim, Cheryl A. Utley

Very few empirical studies have addressed the effectiveness of communicatio interventions for young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the last three decades. This systematic review synthesized 23 single-subject design (SSD) studies on communication interventions for young children with ASD from 1975 to 2007. Eighty-three percent of the (SSD) studies reported indirect and direct observations as theirprimary data collection method. Fifty-two percent of the (SSD) studies utilized multiple baseline design across subjects, target behaviours, responses, and descriptions. Fifty-eight percent of the (SSD) studies implemented reinforcements, thirty percentof the studies employhed communication interventions, and sixty-one percent of the studies used alternative interventions. Recommendations for future research include the use of treatment fidelity measures and documentation of the frequency and intensity of the intervention in its description and implementation procedures.

Student IEP Participation and Parental Satisfaction Among Adolescents with Autism
Lucy Barnard-Brak, Tonya Davis, Julie K. Ivey, David Thomson

A students' Individualized Education Program (IEP) has a direct impact on the development of curricular and instructional services for students receiving special educational services across the United States. Parents of students with autism and other disabilties often perceive a disconnect between those services provided by the school and what they perceive that their student needs in order to be successful in life. The purpose of the current study was to examine the association of student IEP participation with parental satisfaction among adolescents with autism. Results indicate higher levels of parental satisfacion when their student with autism participated in the IEP process.

A Comparison of Three Adaptive Behaviour Measures in Relation to Cognitive Level and Severity of Autism
Kerry Wells, Rosemary Condillac, Adrienne Perry, David C. Factor

Adaptive behaviour (everyday skills in social and practical domains; AAMR, 2002) is vital to the understanding of individual with developmental disabilities, including autism. Several measures of adaptive functioning are available and deciding among them can be difficult for clinicians. Conceptually, there is overlap between adaptive behaviour and other constructs included in assessments of individuals with autism. Previous research has found moderate correlations among adaptive functioning, cognitive level, and severity of autism. These are overlapping concepts, and the degree to which they overlap relates to the understanding and usefulness of the measures. This study examined the utility and construct validity of three widely used measures of adaptive behaviour, as rated by staff: the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales-Classroom Edition (VABS-Classroom; Sparrow, Balla, & Cicchetti, 1985), the Scales of Independent Behavior-Revised (SIB-R; Bruininks, Woodcock, Weatherman, & Hill, 1996), and the Adaptive Behavior Scale-School-Second Edition (ABS-S: 2; Lambert, Nihira, & Leland, 1993).

Using the Three-Component Multiple-Schedule to Examine the Effects of Treatments on Stereotypy
Marc J. Lanovaz, Malena Argumedes

We compared the effects of differential reinforcement of other behaviour (DRO) and noncontingent access to sound-producing toys on the vocal stereotypy of a child with autism. A three-component multiple-schedule was combined with brief reversals to evaluate the effects of each treatment on immediate and subsequent engagement in vocal stereotypy. The results showed that DRO did not decrease vocal stereotypy, but that noncontingent access to sound-producing toys reduced both immediate and sbusequent engagement in the behaviour. The results are discussed in terms of the utility of the three-component multiple-schedule to assess treatments for automatically reinforced behaviour.

Estimating Administrative Prevalence of Intellectual Disabilities in Manitoba
Helene Ouellette-Kuntz, Shahin Shooshtari, Beverley Temple, Marni Brownell, Charles Burchill, C.T. Yu, Jeanette J. A. Holden, Brian Hennen

Study Objective: To provide a reliable estimate of administrative prevalence of intellectual disability (ID) in Manitoba. Methods: Unique identifiers were used to link anonymous records for each indiviudal from several provincial administrative databases. Individuals who met at least one of the following criteria were classified as having ID: 1) received income assistance for reasons of mental retardation; 2) received special education funding for mental retardation or multiple handicaps; and 3) had at least one diagnostic code for ID in their medical records. Results: The overall administrative prevalence of ID among Manitobans was estimated at 4.7 per 1,000 population. Conclusions: The use of linked administrative data increased our ability to provide a more reliable estimate of ID prevalence in Manitoba.

Cognitive and Emotional Language Use in Parents of Children with Developmental Disabilities
David W. Carroll

The present study examined cognitive and emotional language use in narratives of parents of children with Down syndrome (n=78) versus other developmental disabilities (n=45). It was hypothesized that parents of children with Down syndrome would make more references to postive emotions and fewer references to negative emotions and cognitive processes. Narratives were examined using the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) software. Parents of children with Down syndrome made fewer references to tentativeness, insight, causation, and sadness than parents of children with other developmental disabilities. The results suggest that diagnositc uncertainty increases cognitive processing and negative emotions in parents of children with developmental disabilities. Limitations of the analysis of published narratives were discussed.

Assertive Community Treatment Teams and Adults with Intellectual Disabilities
Philip Burge

To determine the proportion of Ontario's assertive community treatment (ACT) teams' registered and wait-listed clients who have an intellectual disability a brief survey was sent to managers or team leaders of all provincial teams. Of the 78 Ontario ACT teams 85.9% participated. Overall, respondents estimated that 9.3% of their clientele have intellectual disabilities as did 10.8% of waiting list clients. Considerable unexplained variation in proportions was found when comparing teams and when data was aggregated by teams within provincial health planning authorities. Discussion of these results and recommendations for further study to determine the reasons for this variation are made.

Spinal Muscular Atrophy: An Inherited Neuromuscular Disorder with a Potentially Optimistic Future
Matthew Wong, Maire Percy

Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a rare orphan genetic neuromuscular disorder that kills more babies than any other genetic disorder. SMA is often associated with progressive, severe physical disability that manifests before or after the age of 18, though not with cognitive impairment. Not considered a developmental disability in Ontario or Canada, SMA is so classified in certain other jurisdictions. Since discovery of the genetic basis of SMA in 1996, there have been substantial advances in its understanding. These provide optimism for development of an effective treatment of SMA or even a cure. This paper provides a multidisciplinary introduction to SMA, its management, potential treatments, research advances, and ethical dilemmas. Lessons learned from experiences with SMA are generally relevant to disabilities with a genetic basis or severe physical disability. Information learned about the aberrant molecular and physiological processes in SMA may provide important clues about causes of certain other neurological disorders such as fragile X syndrome. Readers should note that unlike the U.S. and some other countries, Canada does not have an orphan drug policy to facilitate the development of promising treatments for rare debilitating disorders, including SMA. It also does not have provision for ensuring access to such treatments even if these exist. As rare disorders collectively affect as many as 1 person in 10 in the general population, communities should unite and lobby governments at all levels for policy changes to ensure that persons affected with rare disorders will have access to life-saving treatments and drugs and a program to cover the costs of such treatments.


Media Reviews

Disability in Dangerous Times
Catherine Frazee

Autism and Second Life - An Introduction
Sandra Danilovic