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 22 Number 1 – General Issue


From Institution to Community Living, to Social Inclusion - Unrealized Policy Promises
Karen McCauley and Duncan Matheson

This article considers some of the major policy recommendations and legislation that informed the phasing out of Ontario’s institutional system by transitioning into community living, and then social inclusion. The initial philosophy of community living that guided the process focused on programming that emphasized “normalization” to support people integrating into mainstream society. Over time, however, this objective was recognized as unrealistic for many people with complex impairments. At the same time, a critical analysis of enduring environmental barriers and social stigma led to a social theory of disability that transferred the gaze from bodily difference to a disabling society that has not accommodated diversity. This critical analysis informed a shift from community living to social inclusion. In the absence of a shared definition of this objective, tangible successes of social inclusion are difficult to determine. The authors conclude that looking to the extent that past de-institutionalization objectives have been realized can help to identify shortcomings that need to be addressed to realize social inclusion in a meaningful way



Concordance between Choice Presentation Modes and Discrimination Skills of People with Developmental Disabilities
Chelsey A. Michalyshyn, May S. H. Lee, C.T. Yu, and Garry L. Martin

Choices are commonly presented to persons with developmental disabilities using one of three modes: actual objects, pictures of the objects, or by describing them vocally. Research has suggested that the ability to indicate preferences in each mode is related to the discrimination skills the person is able to perform. Twenty direct care staff members, working in a community agency serving individuals with developmental disabilities, completed a survey to indicate the types and proportions of presentation modes they used for clients. We examined the concordance between the presentation modes and the clients’ discrimination skills measured by the Assessment of Basic Learning Abilities. For clients who could perform simple visual discriminations, object presentation mode was scored as concordant and this group showed high concordance (80%). For clients who could perform visual matching-to-sample, either object or picture mode was scored as concordant and this group also showed high concordance (81%), although object mode accounted for 70% of the concordance. For clients who could perform auditory-visual conditional discriminations, there was a large increase in vocal presentations relative to the other groups. The findings suggest that staff presented choices predominantly in modes that often matched their clients’ discrimination skills. The apparent overuse of object mode and underuse of picture mode with clients who could perform visual matching-to-sample discriminations was surprising. Possible reasons for these findings are discussed and suggestions are made for facilitating the use of pictures in decision making for staff working with clients with developmental disabilities.

Développement d’une trousse pédagogique visant les habiletés sociales des jeunes présentant un trouble du spectre de l’autisme
Marie-Hélène Poulin et Vanessa Ménard

Considérant que la qualité des compétences sociales est un moyen probant pour augmenter la participation sociale et que la condition autistique implique des défis pour la communication et les interactions sociales, une trousse pédagogique dédiée à l’enseignement des habiletés sociales pour les personnes autistes âgées de 6 à 17 ans a été créée. Elle s’adresse à toutes personnes désirant améliorer ses habiletés sociales ou qui recherchent des outils visuels pour accompagner une personne. Le guide permet aussi un langage commun sur la condition autistique et ses particularités. Cette trousse est composée de deux outils audiovisuels (plateforme web interactive et DVD) et d’un guide. Le choix de ces médiums s’appuie sur les capacités d’imitation, l’efficacité du support visuel pour développer la compétence sociale et un intérêt fréquent pour la technologie chez les personnes autistes. La rigueur scientifique a été assurée par la chercheuse responsable et la rigueur clinique du processus de développement des outils a été assurée par un comité composé d’intervenants travaillant aux services en trouble envahissant du développement. Cette trousse a été diffusée en 2014-2015 et une enquête sur la satisfaction des utilisateurs est en cours en 2016. Considering that the development of good social skills is a prime way to increase social participation and that autism condition involve social impairment, an educational kit dedicated for teaching social skills to 6- to 17-year-olds with autism was created. This kit consists of two audiovisual tools (an interactive web platform and DVD) and a guide. It is for all people wishing to improve their social skills or looking for visual tools to support a person. The guide also provides a common language on the autistic conditions and specifics about social skills. The choice of these mediums is based on imitation capacity, the efficiency of visual support to develop social skills and a common interest in technology in autistic people. Scientific rigour was assured by the responsible researcher and clinical rigour of the tools development process was conducted by a committee of stakeholders who worked in pervasive developmental disorder services. This kit was available online in 2014-2015 and a survey on user satisfaction is underway.

Impact of Motor Skills Training in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder and an Intellectual Disability
Nadia R. Azar, Phillip McKeen, Kelly Carr, Chad A. Sutherland, and Sean Horton

This study employed an intervention involving motor skills training, whole body exercise, and sports and games to improve manual motor skills and reaction time in a group of adults with autism spectrum disorder and an intellectual disability (ASD-ID). Eleven adults with ASD-ID engaged in this intervention for 90 minutes twice a week, for 12 weeks. Modified versions of the 25 Grooved Pegboard, Box and Block, and Stick Catching Tests measured fine and gross motor skills and reaction time, respectively. Motor skills were evaluated at the beginning, middle, and end of the program, and following 4 weeks with no training. Trends indicating improvement in motor skills were evident, but participant difficulties in performing the Stick Catching Test made assessment of reaction time challenging. Despite this, many findings of practical significance emerged from this study, which demonstrated a viable model for implementation of similar programs with multiple participants. Given the importance of motor skills for independence, safety, and quality of life, more research on activities that promote the development of these skills in adults with ASD‑ID is warranted. Understanding how to facilitate motor skill development in these individuals will assist them in becoming more active in the community and more independent around their homes.

Friendship Characteristics of Children with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities: Qualitative Evidence from Video Data
Alicia Moore-Dean, Rebecca Renwick, and Ann Fudge Schormans

Although most children establish friendships by pre-school age, children with intellectual/developmental disabilities (IDD) often experience difficulties doing so. The literature identifies several characteristics associated with friendships of typically developing children that describe the ways children form and maintain friendships. It is unclear whether these characteristics describe friendships of children with IDD. This secondary analysis of 24 hours of video data from a larger study uses thematic content analysis to explore friendship characteristics of nine children (9-12 years) with IDD based on their own perspectives. Findings support the relevance of these characteristics to the children’s friendships, and highlight contextual features influencing development and maintenance of their friendships.

Observation of Socially Appropriate and Inappropriate Behaviours Among Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder During an Early Behavioural Intervention Program
Mélina Rivard, Jacques Forget, Normand Giroux, Catherine Mello, Kelly Kerr, and Gisela Regli

This observational study described behaviours (13 target behaviours) among 13 children with autism spectrum disorder during their interactions with their therapist at the onset of early behavioural intervention (EBI). It also examined the interrelations between the different types of behaviours and with standardized assessments of intellectual quotient (IQ) and autism severity. Finally, it assessed behavioural changes after 8 months of intervention. Socially appropriate behaviours were more frequent than inappropriate or non-social behaviours. Although participants rarely initiated interactions, other socially appropriate behaviours, such as maintaining interactions, were frequently observed. These were positively associated with IQ and negatively associated with autism severity; the opposite relationships were found for inappropriate and non-social behaviours, those behaviours were negatively associated with IQ and autism severity. Approximately half of participants demonstrated a proportional increase in socially appropriate behaviours after 8 months of intervention, while the other half tended not to change. These changes were associated with children’s IQ and autistic symptoms at the beginning of EBI. These data emphasize the need for systematic interventions on some socially appropriate behaviours, like social initiations, and on increasing social behaviours in general at the beginning and within EBI programs, particularly for children with a lower level of functioning.

Accueillir un enfant présentant un trouble du spectre de l’autisme en contexte d’intervention comportementale intensive en centre de la petite enfance
Julie Deschatelets et Nathalie Poirier

La présente recherche décrit, dans une perspective exploratoire, l’expérience de 13 éducatrices en centre de la petite enfance (CPE) qui accueillent un enfant présentant un trouble du spectre de l’autisme (TSA) en contexte d’intervention comportementale intensive (ICI). Les objectifs de cette étude sont de (1) recueillir les perceptions des éducatrices en CPE sur l’ICI offerte aux enfants présentant un TSA en CPE et de (2) déterminer les facteurs qu’elles jugent favorables à leur implication dans l’ICI. Des entrevues semi-structurées ont été conduites et les résultats sont présentés en trois volets : (a) les perceptions et les connaissances des éducatrices sur le TSA, (b) leur expérience d’accueil d’un enfant présentant un TSA dans leur groupe, et (c) les perceptions des services d’ICI offerts aux enfants en service de garde. Les résultats précisent que, de façon générale, les éducatrices perçoivent positivement les services d’ICI offerts en CPE. Elles attendent principalement un soutien à travers une transmission des connaissances, de même que dans leurs techniques d’intervention. Leur participation à l’ICI se traduit par l’échange d’information, l’élaboration des objectifs et dans la généralisation des acquis. Cependant, elles se considèrent peu soutenues dans la réalisation de ce dernier mandat. Les éducatrices identifient la communication comme un facteur clé dans leur implication dans le processus de réadaptation de l’enfant qu’elles accueillent. Enfin, des pistes de solutions sont proposées pour faciliter leur participation à l’ICI de même que pour bonifier les interventions. This exploratory study describes the perception of 13 childcare educators who integrate children with an autism spectrum disorders (ASD) within their group and who benefit from intensive behavioral intervention (IBI) services. The aim of this study is to : (1) investigate childcare educators’ perception of the IBI services offered within their daycares; and (2) determine the factors that promote their implication in the intervention process. The present study uses semi-structured interviews to achieve these goals; the results are presented in accordance with three themes : (a) childcare educators’ perceptions and knowledge of ASD; (b) their experience in regards to integrating a child with ASD; and (c) their perception of the IBI services offered to the child in their group. In general, childcare educators’ perceptions of the IBI services offered in daycares are positive. However, suggestions are proposed to facilitate their participation in the IBI as well as to improve the intervention itself. They primarily discussed their desire for increased support through knowledge acquisition, such as that of intervention techniques. Their participation in the IBI services notably consists of exchanging information, conceptualizing objectives and generalizing knowledge acquisition. Nevertheless, the child educators states having lacked support in order to achieve the latter mandate. In addition, communication is identified as a determining factor for their implication in the intervention process. The present study presents potential solutions to facilitate child educators’ participation in IBI as well as to improve the interventions offered.

La participation aux tâches domestiques chez les enfants ayant un trouble du spectre de l’autisme
Rachel Paquette, Nathalie Poirier, et Ariane Leroux-Boudreault

Les parents dont leur enfant présente un trouble du spectre de l’autisme (TSA) doivent réaliser de multiples tâches pour le soin de cet enfant et du reste de la famille. Dans cette étude, les chercheurs explorent la participation aux tâches domestiques d’enfants ayant un TSA (n = 14), qui sont comparés à un groupe d’enfants au développement typique du même âge (n = 12). Des analyses statistiques et descriptives sont utilisées. L’analyse statistique cible quatre tâches spécifiques, soit la préparation du lunch, le choix des vêtements le matin, faire son lit et faire des tâches dans la maison. Le test de Fisher révèle que le groupe TSA diffère négativement du groupe typique sur deux tâches : la préparation du lunch et le choix des vêtements le matin. Le volet qualitatif utilise la classification de White et Brinkerhoff (1981), qui dichotomise les tâches domestiques, soit celles orientées pour la famille et celles orientées pour soi-même. L’analyse descriptive des tâches démontre que les participants ayant un TSA réalisent moins de tâches orientées pour la famille que le groupe typique. Les résultats, les limites et les recherches futures sont discutés. Little is known about the help provided by autistic children to their parents. The purpose of this study was to compare the participation in household task of children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) (n = 14) to their neurotypical peers (n = 12). Statistical analysis was used to compare the participation in four selected tasks. The Fisher’s Test revealed children with ASD showed lower performance than their neurotypical peers in lunch preparation and clothing autonomy. Descriptive analysis used the White and Brinkerhoff (1981) classification. It revealed that children with ASD do fewer tasks related to family care than their neurotypical peers. Results and limitations are discussed and future research directions are presented.


Case Report

Effects of Functional Communication Training with and without Delays to Decrease Aberrant Behaviour in a Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Evan Anderson, Anjali Barretto, T.F. McLaughlin, and T. McQuaid

The purpose in this study was to implement functional communication training (FCT) in order to reduce tantrum and aggressive behaviours in a single child with autism spectrum disorder. Could one teach a child to communicate or request things and what would this do to their level of inappropriate behaviors? This investigation attempted to examine the efficacy of this procedure with a child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. The study was conducted in the child’s home as well as in the Behavioural Assessment Lab at a local private university. The behaviors measured were the percentage of tantrum and aggressive behaviours and the number of mands (client requests). A functional analysis of aberrant behavior was conducted following which an ABABCDEFG reversal design was used to evaluate the outcomes of treatment evaluation. The functional analysis indicated that the participant’s aberrant behaviours were maintained by tangible reinforcers. Therefore, our participant received something for his tantrums and aggression. Our results showed a reduction in the percentage of tantrum and aggressive behaviours, as well as an increase in participant requests via FCT. These requests can include verbal as well as non-verbal requests such as using a Picture Exchange Communication System or pointing to an object. The implementation of a delay in the FCT treatment package also revealed that with an increased time delay of reinforcement, increased levels of mands as well as decreased levels of aberrant behaviours were kept at a low level.



Reviewers: 2014 and 2015 and Student Publication Prize
Brown and Percy Student Publication Prize Winners: 2014 and 2015