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 27 Number 1 – On-line First


Gender Differences in Aggressive Behaviours Among Individuals with Intellectual Disability: The Moderating Role of Vulnerability Factors
Melissa Clark, Diane Morin and Anne Crocker

The factors contributing to aggressive behaviours among individuals with intellectual disability (ID) are not fully understood. The goal of the present study was to examine whether vulnerability factors such as ID severity, speech, or motor impairments moderated gender differences in aggressive behaviours. Adults (n=296) with ID were recruited, and data on vulnerability factors and aggressive behaviours were collected through file reviews and interviews. Moderation analyses indicated that men were more likely to exhibit physical aggression than women, particularly those with a mild level of ID. Analyses also indicated that women were more likely to exhibit physical aggression than men, particularly those with speech impairment. Our findings suggest that gender-dependent vulnerability factors might contribute to aggressive behaviours among individuals with ID.

Predicting Quality of Life among Family Caregivers of Adults with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities
Chien-Chun Lin and Connie Sung

The current study used a proposed conceptual framework to investigate how various physical, psychosocial, and health factors of adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD) affect family caregivers’ perceived quality of life (QoL) in the caregiving process. The 124-item survey for this study consisted of several psychological measures and a demographic questionnaire. A total of 88 valid responses were analyzed by correlational analysis, hierarchical regression analysis, and mediation analysis. Results indicated that caring for adults with I/DD significantly affected family caregivers’ QoL. Caring for adults with I/DD who presented with substantial behavioural issues was negatively associated with caregivers’ QoL. This negative relationship was mediated by depression symptoms, suggesting that caregivers’ mental health is crucial to their QoL, aside from higher caregiving demands. The results of this study provide a more comprehensive exploration of the QoL of family caregivers of adults with I/DD than previously existed in the literature and might be used to provide further suggestions to the researchers and practitioners about caregivers’ unique needs. For example, timely education on managing caregivers’ depressive symptoms and stress to improve both caregivers’ own QoL and the care recipients’ overall QoL, ultimately might extend the capacity of caregivers to continue providing care without jeopardizing their physical health, mental status, and overall QoL.

Children with Intellectual Disability and Their Experience with Fecal Incontinence: Beyond a Pathophysiology Approach
Anna Don and Patrick O'Byrne

Compared to children without intellectual disability (ID), children with ID are significantly more likely to experience fecal incontinence. Within the dearth of extant research about fecal incontinence, children with ID are often excluded from studies. Researchers of studies including children with ID often understand fecal incontinence as either a “normal” and involuntary diagnostic phenotype for children with ID or as a deliberate oppositional behaviour. In either case, the child is positioned as the focus of the problem. In this article we discuss how children with ID experience fecal incontinence within a context of disabling service barriers resulting from the children’s individualized method of communication and self-care support needs that further their social stigmatization. This concept emerged from a Foucauldian discourse analysis that we conducted with eight carers of children with ID in Ontario. The results that we have presented in this article only discuss the interrelated concepts of “fecal incontinence,” “needs, and “untouchable as a social consequence” that emerged from theme 1 of the full study. Future research is needed to explore the experience of children with ID and fecal incontinence from a holistic perspective and to inform professionals working with this population about the importance of providing person-centred interventions.

The Processing of Emotions in Faces and Music by Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum with Lower and Higher Verbal Cognitive Ability: A Pilot Study
Hadas Dahary, Shalini Sivathasan and Eve-Marie Quintin

Verbal cognitive ability is known to correlate with emotion processing in faces and music in typically developing individuals. However, the relation between these variables among autistic people is not clear and has been investigated mainly in those who have proficient verbal cognitive ability. For this reason, we compared the recognition and perceived intensity of emotions in faces and music of 25 adolescents (12–16 years old) on the autism spectrum with lower (n = 12) or higher (n = 13) verbal cognitive ability. Participants were assessed with the verbal index of a cognitive test (WISC-V), an online hearing test, and two computer tasks that assessed emotion recognition using 4-second face and music stimuli. Participants were asked: (1) to identify the emotion conveyed in facial expressions and musical excerpts; and (2) to rate the intensity of that emotion. Participants were very accurate at identifying emotions (happiness, sadness, fear) in faces and music, irrespective of verbal cognitive ability. In fact, accuracy scores were near ceiling, which precluded a statistical comparison of emotion identification in faces and music. We discuss factors that likely influenced these results such as the level of task difficulty and the participants’ ages. In terms of intensity ratings in faces, sadness was perceived as less intense than happiness and fear. In music, intensity ratings of happiness, sadness and fear were similar within and between the groups with low or high verbal cognitive ability. Verbal cognitive ability was negatively associated with perceived emotional intensity in faces but not in music, which may indicate that language ability modulates the experience of facial emotional processing. On the basis of these findings, we suggest that adolescents across the autism spectrum might benefit from music education as a strength-based approach for teaching emotion processing skills.

Does Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention Improve the Social Skills of Children with Autism? An Exploratory Study
Janet Amos, Sabine Saade, Ingrid Sladeczek, Katherine Moxness, Marc Lanovaz and Nathalie Garcin

The development of appropriate social skills is critical for all children in establishing relationships and being able to successfully participate in their communities. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), however, have pronounced difficulties with social skill acquisition, development, execution, generalization and maintenance, which are characteristic of the disorder. For children with ASD, the development of fundamental social skills (e.g., saying thank you, smiling when seeing their caregiver) to more complex social skills (e.g., expressing empathy and cooperation) represent unique challenges. Yet, little research has focused on complex social skills as an outcome of Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention (EIBI), a well-established intervention for children with ASD. The present study evaluated fundamental and complex social skills in a sample of 16 children with ASD from two community settings in Québec before and two years after participating in EIBI. Pre-intervention and post-intervention measures included the Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS) to screen for complex social skills and problem behaviours, and the Adaptive Behavior Assessment System (ABAS-II) to screen for fundamental social skills. Significant pre- to post-test improvements in social skills were found with the ABAS-II but not with the SSIS. Although preliminary, these findings are suggestive that within EIBI programs, specific social skills should be targeted directly.


Brief Reports

Factors Associated with COVID-19 Infections Among a High-Risk Sample of Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in Ontario
Rebecca Hansford, Hélène Ouellette-Kuntz and Lynn Martin

This brief report describes the demographic and clinical profiles of 190 adult home care users with intellectual and developmental disabilities tested for COVID-19 from March 2020 to May 2021. A cross-sectional study design (n=190) was conducted. Chi-Square tests, Fisher’s Exact tests, and odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals are reported. Older age and congregate living increased the odds of having a positive COVID-19 test, while dependence in personal dressing was associated with decreased odds. These findings provide useful data from the first 15 months of the pandemic, trends over time should be investigated.