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Journal on Developmental Disabilities

The Journal on Developmental Disabilities is a peer-reviewed journal with a growing regional and international readership.

Volume 23 Number 1 – General/RSIG Abstracts

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Pilot Investigation of Language Development of Children With Autism Receiving Peer Networks Intervention
Carla Schmidt, Matthew Schmidt, Debra Kamps, Kathy Thiemann-Bourque, and Rose Mason

Peer mediated interventions are among the most successful in producing positive change in social competence for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The current study extends the research in this area by reporting the outcomes of a pilot study that sought to investigate the discrete changes in language skills of elementary school-age children with ASD enrolled in a peer mediated intervention. The peer networks intervention consisted of social groups and literacy groups with peers. Detailed language transcriptions of video probes were used to examine the impact of the peer networks intervention on expressive language abilities of eight children with ASD over kindergarten and first grade as compared to eight children with ASD not receiving intervention. Video probes were collected pre-intervention and at one and two years post intervention. Participants were separated into two groups based on baseline language capabilities: moderate and highly verbal. Change in participant’s expressive language was measured by total number of completed words, total number of different words, mean turn length, and type-token ratios.1 Findings indicate that the experimental groups made more gains in the observed language variables than the comparison groups for both the moderate and the highly verbal groups. Differences between experimental and comparison groups as well as between moderate and highly verbal groups were observed. Greatest differences were found in participants’ total number of words and number of different words. These differences were strongest after two years of intervention. With intervention, participants communicated with their peers in a naturalistic social setting using a larger total number of words and a larger total number of different words than before receiving intervention and compared to participants not receiving intervention. Results from the pilot study further support the call for explicit instruction in social competence for individuals with ASD

Teaching Staff who Work With Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders to Evaluate the Treatment Integrity of Discrete-Trials Teaching Sessions
Jade Ellement, Ashley Boris, Garry Martin, and Daniela Fazzio

The current study evaluated the effectiveness of a self-instructional package to teach individuals to evaluate the treatment integrity (the degree to which intervention is implemented as planned) of discrete-trials teaching (DTT) sessions using the Discrete-Trials Teaching Evaluation Form (DTTEF). Participants were six staff from the St.Amant autism programs. We used a modified multiple-baseline design across a pair of participants, and replicated across two more pairs. At Baseline, a participant reviewed the 20-item DTTEF and a one-page summary of how to use it; they then attempted to assess the accuracy of DTT applied by a confederate role-playing an instructor teaching three tasks to a confederate role-playing a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). During training, participants studied a self-instructional package for using the DTTEF. At Post-training, participants were reassessed on the same tasks as during Baseline. During Generalization, participants were assessed evaluating the treatment integrity of three videos of an autism tutor administering DTT to a child with ASD. During a seven-month Follow-up, four participants were available and were reassessed. Training time averaged 1 hour and 16 minutes and mean accuracy increased from 47.6% in Baseline to 84.7% at Post-training. All participants showed excellent generalization results, and three of the four participants during Follow-up performed at a high level.

An Analysis of Training Tasks, Maladaptive Behaviours, and Rates of Task Acquisition Base on Archived Data From an Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention Program
Geneviève N. Roy-Wsiaki, Garry L. Martin, Dickie C.T. Yu, Toby L. Martin, Lauren Kaminski, Morena Miljkovic, Sarah Rigby, Kari Webster, and Maria Pongoski

This study, conducted in two parts, evaluated whether the difficulty of the training tasks taught to children enrolled in the St. Amant Autism Early Learning Program matched the learning abilities of the children. In the first part, we demonstrated that: (I) Trained observers could reliably categorize 99 of the 544 tasks of the Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills – Revised (ABLLS‑R) into individual levels of the Assessment of Basic Learning Abilities – Revised (ABLA‑R);and (II) Autism consultants from the St. Amant autism programs averaged 90.5% agreement that those ABLLS‑R tasks were taught at the categorized ABLA‑R levels. In the second part, we examined archived data for 14 children from the St. Amant Autism Early Learning Program. We found that: (III) 81% of each child’s ABLLS‑R training tasks were mismatched to each child’s highest-passed ABLA‑R level; (IV) 61% of their assessments of maladaptive behaviours had a score indicative of challenging behaviours; and (V) The children’s rates of acquisition of new training tasks were lower for mismatched tasks than for matched tasks. This study provides valuable information for service providers to improve early intensive behavioural intervention programs for children with autism spectrum disorder.

Apprentissage de l’orthographe lexical en français chez des jeunes élèves ayant un trouble du spectre de l’autisme : profils et recommandations
Catherine Turcotte, Amélie Cayouette, et Céline Chatenoud

Apprendre à orthographier les mots en français représente un défi pour plusieurs élèves puisque cela exige des connaissances des correspondances entre les lettres et les sons, mais aussi la mémorisation de l’écriture des mots. Cette étude examine le développement de l’orthographe lexicale chez 15 élèves de cinq à sept ans ayant un trouble du spectre de l’autisme. Ces élèves fréquentent des classes spéciales dans lesquelles les enseignantes adoptent des pratiques pédagogiques semblables à celles de classes ordinaires en ce qui a trait à l’écrit. Cette étude vise à alimenter les connaissances sur le potentiel de ces élèves à traiter la langue écrite. Elle vise également à contribuer à la réflexion sur les voies favorisant leur réussite scolaire et éducative. Des données ont été recueillies à partir d’une tâche d’écriture sous dictée de cinq mots et d’une phrase administrée à trois moments au cours d’une année scolaire. Cette tâche comprend des mots ayant des caractéristiques linguistiques différentes, permettant ainsi d’observer diverses habiletés et connaissances des élèves. Des analyses s’appuyant sur le modèle des « préoccupations du jeune scripteur » ont été menées afin de mettre en lumière leurs préoccupations visuographiques, sémiographiques, alphabétiques et orthographiques.1 Les résultats indiquent que ces élèves manifestent des préoccupations différentes entre eux. De plus, chaque élève montre des préoccupations différentes entre les trois passations de la tâche, ce qui indique qu’ils développent tous des connaissances nouvelles en cours d’année. Ceci rappelle le développement de l’orthographe chez des jeunes scripteurs neurotypiques fréquentant les classes ordinaires. Young Students With Autism Spectrum Disorder Learning How to Spell in French: Profiles and Recommendations Abstract Learning to spell in French is a challenge for many students because they need knowledge of letter-sound correspondences and also they need to memorize written words in order to write them properly. This study examines the development of spelling among 15 students with autism spectrum disorder

Supervision of Large-Scale Community-Based Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention Programs in Quebec: Description of Practices
Annie Paquet, Carmen Dionne, Jacques Joly, Myriam Rousseau, and Mélina Rivard

To date, available studies have identified some components of early intensive behavioural intervention (EIBI) programs that may influence children’s outcomes, including supervision. Supervisors need to be competent in several areas and must carry out various professional activities. However, it may be difficult for community-based EIBI programs to access skilled supervisors and to offer intensive supervision of staff. The purpose of this article is to present data concerning the supervision models used by readaptation centres in Quebec offering these programs. Quantitative and qualitative analyses were conducted on data collected through a survey developed as part of a larger project (2011-2012). The results from the 18 completed survey questionnaires indicated that the caseworkers most frequently asked to perform supervision were psychoeducators (38.8%, n = 7), followed by clinical activity specialists (27.7%, n = 5). At most of the centres, supervisors had a university education. Supervision frequency varied greatly, from once every six weeks to two or three times per week. When asked, “Why is there a supervision system?” respondents indicated that its purpose was to (1) ensure quality services, (2) provide training and professional support, (3) support parents and partners, (4) provide intervention support, and (5) support individuals experiencing problematic situations. Despite some differences between the data collected and the supervision modalities proposed in the scientific literature, notably in terms of supervision intensity, results emphasize the importance of supervision and the variety of possible modalities that exist (e.g., format, content). Respondents stress that supervision is a way to ensure quality services, reliable and rigorous application of the program, as well as support for professional development.

Teen Dreams: Voices of Students With Intellectual Disabilities
Sheila Bennett, Tiffany Gallagher, Margo Shuttleworth, Monique Somma, and Rebecca White

High school students with intellectual disabilities who are transitioning into adult life participated in discussions of their school experiences. Utilizing deductive thematic analysis through an emancipatory critical disability lens, students responded to an individualized semi structured interview protocol aimed at engaging them in a discussion focused on their perceptions and activities as high school students and adolescents. Responses were recorded to prompts initiated by the researchers. Reporting on the lived experiences of individuals with intellectual disabilities requires researchers to acknowledge their limitations in interpreting data. As educational researchers, we strive to give voice to this often marginalized group within educational settings as well as larger society. This “giving of voice” can involve a great deal of subjective interpretation, particularly when voices of those with profound intellectual disabilities are being heard. Subverting these voices into what might be perceived as a “normalized” version to fit into the preconceived notions of researcher and reader is an inherent danger in any interpretative endeavour. In this paper, researchers made a conscious and sustained effort to listen to the voices of teenagers with intellectual disabilities without interference. Research themes that guided the construction, collection and analysis of data were influenced by a priori knowledge and experience of the researchers as well as the existing literature.

Are Rural and Urban Ontario Health Care Professionals Aware of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder? A Secondary Data Analysis of the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Survey for Health Professionals
Kelly D. Coons, Alexandra L. Clement, and Shelley L. Watson

Health care professionals play a critical role in the prevention of FASD, particularly through providing counselling around alcohol use and alcohol consumption during pregnancy, yet researchers have demonstrated that many professionals remain under-educated concerning FASD. In addition, awareness of FASD held by Ontario health care professionals remains unexplored. A secondary data analysis was conducted using data obtained from the 2001-2002 Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) Survey for Health Professionals. Ontario-specific data (N = 834) were used to examine the awareness of FASD held by various health care professionals in both rural and urban settings. Nearly all (99.5%) of the surveyed health care professionals had previously heard of FASD; however, only 73.2% reported discussing the risks of alcohol during pregnancy, 62.4% agreed with the practice of telling patients to drink in moderation, and only 87.9% recommended that pregnant women completely abstain from alcohol for the duration of their pregnancy. Using Chi-squared comparisons, results also showed that rural providers were more likely than urban providers to ask pregnant women if they are currently drinking alcohol (p = .007) and felt more prepared to care for biological mothers in the area of alcohol use or dependency (p = .011). Health care professionals’ counselling and recommendations for pregnant women about alcohol use, as well as FASD prevention, are discussed.




Welcome to the Board JoDD Reviewers of Manuscripts Submitted During 2016 JoDD Student Publication Prize 2016


RSIG Abstracts

RSIG Abstracts 2015

Presentations From the 2015 RSIG Research Day, Thorold ON, April 17 Posters From the 2015 RSIG Research Day, Thorold ON, April 17