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 19 Number 1 – Innovative Approaches


Mental Health and Autism: Promoting Autism FaVourable Environments (PAVE)
Elspeth Bradley and Phoebe Caldwell

Autism is associated with unique neurobiology. Significant differences in brain structures and neurobiological functioning have been found that underpin different perceptual and psychological experiences of people with autism (neuro-atypical) compared to those without autism (neuro-typical). These neuropsychological differences include hyper-and hyposensitivities to sensory input, vestibular distortions, problems filtering and processing incoming information which contribute to sensory and emotional overload, motor difficulties and consequent anxiety. Neuro-typical explanations (Outside-In perspective) of anxiety and unusual behaviours shown by those with autism, are often at odds with explanations provided by those with autism (Inside-Out perspective). Listening to these neuro-atypical explanations of emotional experience underlying unusual behaviours, offers an opportunity to Promote Autism faVourable Environments (PAVE). The PAVE approach can reduce the suffering, pain and distress that arise for those with autism in more ordinary environments, as well as aid in reduction of misdiagnoses and mismanagement strategies.

Books Beyond Words: Using Pictures to Communicate
Elspeth Bradley and Sheila the Baroness Hollins

Books Beyond Words are the outcome of the Beyond Words method of putting people with intellectual disabilities and others who struggle with words at the centre of the communication exchange. Books Beyond Words are picture books, in colour that tell a story and are designed particularly for adults. The Beyond Words method has developed as a partnership involving self advocates with intellectual disabilities and those who provide every day and professional supports. In this article the creator of the Beyond Words method describes the development of the current Books Beyond Words series as well as the wide range of circumstances in which the books are helpful in ensuring people with intellectual disabilities are fully involved in meaningful exchanges with others about their day to day needs. Feedback from people using the books is also shared.

Intensive Interaction: Using Body Language to Communicate
Phoebe Caldwell

Intensive Interaction is an approach that uses body language to facilitate positive engagement with non-verbal or semi verbal children and adults with intellectual disabilities and or autism and with whom communication is often difficult. Positive outcomes include a deepening of emotional engagement as measured by increases in eye contact and social responsiveness and a reduction in distress (challenging) behaviours.

Modified Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with Individuals Who Have a Developmental Disabilities
Cheryl Bedard

On a daily basis somebody encounters a traumatic event. People who have a developmental disability encounter such events three to four times more often. As a consequence of some of these traumatizing events, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) results. Psychotherapy has been proven to be necessary and effective in aiding with some of the symptomatology. This article outlines some modifications that have been developed in order to provide psychotherapy to individuals who have a developmental disability.

The Sex Offender Freeze Frame Treatment Technique (SOFFTT)
Mark Larin

The Sex Offender Freeze Frame Treatment Technique (SOFFTT) was initially created to help a client come to terms with the array of dynamics within the offending cycle. It was later put into text in order to assist other therapists who were looking for a structured method of taking clients through treatment. The SOFFTT utilizes pictures and symbols that the client creates in order to depict actions, feelings, thoughts and motivation. In this way, it can be used with people who are in the mild range of intellectual impairment as well as anyone with higher cognitive abilities. The technique lends itself well to the analysis of either singular or multiple offences. This paper outlines the SOFFTT approach and describes how to use this to help an individual depict and explore the series of actions, thoughts, feelings and motivations that have occurred surrounding the instance of touching someone without their consent.


Case Report

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for a Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Verbal Impairment: A Case Study
Megan Ames and Jonathan Weiss

The current case study describes the implementation of a number of modifications made to traditional cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to address anxiety in a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), aggressive behaviour, and mild intellectual impairment. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is the primary psychosocial therapy for the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders in typically developing children and those with ASD who have at least average intelligence quotient (IQ); however, less work has discussed how to address the needs of youth with ASD and cognitive impairments. The purpose of the present case study is to describe the use of modifications to the Coping Cat program (Kendall & Hedtke, 2006) in the treatment of anxiety of a 9-year-old boy, Chris. Chris participated in a modified group therapy with a substantial individual therapy component, due to behavioural and language difficulties. Modifications included visual aids as the primary method of treatment delivery, inclusion of special interests, physical play activities, and parental involvement. A number of qualitative treatment gains were noted in session; however, quantitative data did not support these gains. Limitations of the CBT group intervention and the need for tailoring supports to meet the cognitive needs of children with ASD, aggressive behaviour, and intellectual impairment are discussed.


Original Research Papers

Adaptive Daily Living Skills in Northern Ontario First Nations Communities: Results from a Diary Study
Valerie Temple, Dawn Brown, and Christine Sawanas

This study aimed to gain a better understanding of the adaptive daily living skills (ADLS) of people living in remote northern Ontario First Nations communities through the use of a diary study. Eight individuals living in First Nations communities were asked to describe their activities for one week by writing them in a diary. The most commonly reported activities were child/eldercare, travel, socializing, and use of electronic media. Results also highlighted some ADLS unique to these communities not generally measured by standardized questionnaires including fishing, hunting, and attending community feasts. Of note was what services were not available in these communities. This included group homes, respite services, day programs, and other supports for individuals with intellectual disability (ID) found in larger urban centres.This highlights the importance of family support for individuals with ID and dependence on community members for assistance. Results will be used to create a new standardized questionnaire to more validly and effectively measure ADLS in northern Ontario First Nations communities.

Effects of Teaching Art Activities by Using the Playing Method to Develop Skills in Preschool Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Ahmed Al Hariri and Eman Faisal

The purpose of this study was to explore the effects of teaching art activities on thinking and behavioural skills in preschool students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). A program was designed and applied to teach certain art activities with the Playing method and to measure the thinking and behavioural skills before and after applying the program, by using observation. The sample consisted of 14 boys and girls identified with ADHD by the ADHD Rating Scale for children. They were divided into experimental and control groups matched for several demographic factors. After the experiment was completed, our comparisons demonstrated some beneficial and significant effects of the art program on the thinking and behavioural skills of the children who took part in the activities.



Challenging Representations of Autism - Exploring Possibilities for Broadcasting the Self on YouTube
Charlotte Brownlow, Lindsay O'Dell, and Hanna Bertilsdotter Rosqvist

YouTube offers potential for many to broadcast their own ideas and concepts to a broad international audience. The take up of YouTube by people with autism as a space for advocacy and awareness raising is discussed in this paper, and the benefits of the environment for enabling people with autism to portray autism in positive and enabling ways are considered. The distinction between knowledge of autism produced within a scientific, medicalised deficit framework as opposed to an experiential knowledge of those with autism themselves is as evident in online spaces such as YouTube as it is in face to face environments, and the wider potential impacts of online spaces on face to face environments will be considered.

CBC - The Nature of Things with David Suzuki: Autism Enigma
Julia Kitaygorodsky, Maire Percy, Ann Fudge Schormans, and Ivan Brown

The purpose of this article is to introduce readers to a CBC documentary about a topical new research direction in autism - namely the possibility of a relationship between autism and bacteria in the gut. Key topics and controversies covered in the documentary are highlighted. Relevant background information, commentary, and references have been included to permit a critical perspective.