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 18 Number 1 – General Issue


The Journal on Developmental Disabilities: Its Beginnings
Ivan Brown and Rebecca Ward

Teaching University Students Knowledge and Implementation of the Assessment of Basic Learning Abilities (ABLA)
Lei Hu, Joseph J. Pear, and C.T. Yu

System of Instruction (WebCAPSI), self-instructional manual, demonstration videos, training university students As an analogue of staff training, we evaluated the effectiveness of a training package to teach university students to administer the Assessment of Basic Learning Abilities (ABLA), a direct behavioural assessment of several visual and auditory discrimination skills. The training package included a self-instructional manual, mastery-based unit tests, and demonstration videos. The package was delivered by a Web-based computer-aided personalized system of instruction (WebCASPI) program. The intervention was evaluated in a multiple-baseline design across three undergraduate students. Each student showed large improvements in knowledge and skill acquisition immediately following the intervention and during follow-up. Students rated the videos as the most useful training component. The present study is one of the first to evaluate the effectiveness of a self-instructional manual deliverer through a CAPSI program.

Applying Hill's Criteria to the Study of Autism Spectrum Disorders and Exposure to Mercury
Virginie Cobigo, Malia Su-Qin Murphy, Iwona A. Bielska, and Helene Ouellette-Kuntz

Purpose. Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are neuropsychiatric disorders that include Autistic Disorders, Asperger syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorders - not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS). Prevalence rates of ASDs are reported to have increased in the last decade, raising concern amongst researchers, service providers, policymakers, and families. While current aetiological research is exploring the interface between genetic and environmental factors, exposure to heavy metals, in particular mercury has retained public interest. Methods. A systematic review of publications from 1980 to 2010 inclusive was used to examine the hypothesized link between ASD and mercury exposure. Hill's criteria for causation were applied to critically appraise the reviewed studies. Results. Reviewed studies failed to demonstrate strength and consistency of association as well as establish a temporal link between the onset of ASD symptoms and mercury exposure. Conclusions. The risk of developing and being diagnosed with an ASD as a result of mercury exposure remains unclear because of methodological flaws in studies conducted to date. Rigorous research is needed to provide adequate information to families, clinicians and decision-makers. They must be provided with up-to-date, critically appraised information to help them make informed decisions.

Commentary: A Link Between Mercury Exposure, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders? Implications for Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines
Lucija Tomljenovic, Jose G. Derea, and Christopher A. Shaw

Autism is a multisystem developmental disorder characterized by dysfunctional immunity and impaired brain function. Although autism is partly determined by genetic susceptibility factors, reported dramatic increases in the prevalence of autism in developed countries have intensified scientific focus on environmental exposures. Pre- and perinatal immunotoxic insults are now strongly suspected as contributors to this increase. Mercury (Hg) is both a neuro-and an immunotoxin and continues to be used in some pediatric vaccines in the form of the preservative thimerosal. Although currently there are no direct human studies on the risks of Hg exposure from thimerosal-containing vaccines (TCVs), aminal studies show that does relevant to human TCV exposure can result in adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes. To date, TCVs continue to be administered on a regular basis to potentially the most vulnerable populations: pregnant women and children. In light of existing experimental evidence, the rationale for using this known immunotixic and neurotoxic substance in human vaccines should be reconsidered.

La conceptualisation de l'autisme depuis Kanner : oe en sommes-nous?
Stephane Beaulne

Many studies have attempted to define autism, since Kanner's seminal work (1943); yet, the evolution in our knowledge of this syndrome is characterized by confusion. This article provides a summary of the evolution in our conceptions of autism and examines the consequences of this evolution. The objective of the article is primarily to provide a historical overview: to identify the specific proposed definitions which led to important modifications not only in the very definition of autism, but also at the diagnostic and etiological levels. This article highlights the important contribution which a very promising new theoretical position could make to our clarifying the definition and diagnosis of autism: the neurodevelopmental approach.

A Framework for Teaching Social Skills to Students with Asperger Syndrome in the General Education Classroom
Peggy J. Schaefer Whitby, Christine Ogilvie, and G. Richmond Mancil

Asperger syndrome (AS) is a developmental disability that impacts the development of effective social skills. As the number of students with AS increases, likewise, the number served in inclusive settings increases. Due to the nature of the disability, social-skills instruction is necessary to enhance the quality of life for this group of students. It is important for general educators to infuse academic instruction with social-skills instruction, collaborate with Individual Education Plan team members, facilitate the development of social skills within their classrooms, and model pro-social interaction skills.

Pain in People with Developmental Disabilities: A Scoping Review
Beverley Temple, Charmayne Dube, Diana McMillan, Loretta Secco, Emma Kepron, Klaus Dittberner, James Ediger, and Genevieve Vipond

The expression of pain or pain behaviour is unique for each person with or without developmental disability (DD*). Lack of pain assessment and management creates health disparities for people with DD. Little research has been done to support care guidelines. This scoping review was undertaken to summarize the literature about what is known about pain in people with developmental or intellectual disabilities. Studies which include people with autism have been included, recognizing that these individuals may or may not always have difficulties in verbal expression or self-injurious behaviour. Scoping reviews map the literature to clarify boundaries, identify gaps in evidence and identify areas of research priorities. This scoping review identified four main themes of research related to pain in people with DD: identifying pain; parental-caregiver report; pain measures and practice recommendations. This paper describes the method of this scoping review and the findings related to these four main themes.

Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Program Tageting Behaviour Disorders: The Development of a Logic Model
Virginie Cobigo, Diane Morin, and Celine Mercier

While rigorous experimental studies have provided evidence of the efficacy of certain types of interventions in reducing behaviour disorders, findings are less helpful for clinicians and managers in integrating these treatment approaches into efficient service models. Furthermore, it is still not clear how and why interventions work, either when applied alone or in combination. Further research is needed to understand the mechanisms leading to the achievement or non-achievement of interventions outcomes. We hypothesized that the development of a logic model would help to evaluate intervention effectiveness in reducing behaviour disorders and understand its underlying mechanisms. This paper presents a logic model developed to assess the effectiveness of a program for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities and behaviour disorders. It first describes how the model was developed, and then presents recommendations for service providers, decision-makers, as well as researchers in their effort to build scientific evidence.


Media Reviews

On the "Puzzle of Autism" and the Incompleteness of Autism Awareness
Anne McGuire

An Audience's Guide to Disability in Mainstream Media: A Review of Beth Haller's Representing Disability in an Ableist World: Essays on Mass Media
Chelsea Temple Jones