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 3 – On-line First General Issue


A Clinician’s Perspective on the Communicative Intention in Autism: Call to Reconsider our Understanding of Non-Verbal Behaviours, Private and Inner Speech and Echolalia in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Stéphane Beaulne

Researchers’ understanding of the meaning of non-verbal behaviours in autism determines, to varying degrees, what practitioners, educators and family members do about these behaviours. There is a lack of consensus in our current understanding of non-verbal behaviours, private and inner speech, and echolalia in children with autism spectrum disorder, as well as a lack of consistency and rigour in terminological use. Even more importantly, there is a lack of rigorous multidimensional lines of evidence to support current views of the meaning of non-verbal behaviours or private and inner speech in autistics. This position paper supports recommendations from a growing number of autism experts for behavioural phenomenological analyses of these complex behaviours, in order to explore the potential communicative intent underlying non-verbal behaviours in children with autism spectrum disorder.

A Service Desert: Unmet Needs of Individuals with Autism and their Families
Megan Galligan, Ainsley Losh, Elina Veytsman and Jan Blacher

Background: Families face substantial barriers to timely assessment and intervention services for their children, particularly in remote areas. This study reports results of a survey in an effort to promote better service options for underserved children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families in the Inland Empire region of California. Method: Parents, medical practitioners, and service providers (N = 90) completed surveys of unmet needs. Results were analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively. Results: Only 13% of participants felt that service/healthcare needs were currently met; specific needs included: (1) increased access to a variety of services, (2) overcoming barriers to treatment and/or evaluation services, and (3) additional training and/or education for medical practitioners and service providers. Conclusions: There is a critical need for increased access to comprehensive assessment and services. Recommendations include increased practitioner training and the development of comprehensive services such as an autism centre that focuses on research, education, and service in developmental disabilities.

The Experience of Canadian Immigrant Families of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Tian Kuan, Odette Weiss and Adrienne Perry

Previous literature has established that parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience major impacts on the family. However, immigrant parents are often not included in such research and differences between Canadian-born and immigrant parents are unknown. The Perry Model of Stress (Perry, 2004) conceptualizes the experience of parents, positing that stressors (child characteristics and other life stressors), resources (individual personal resources and family system resources), and supports (informal social support and formal supports and services) should be considered in understanding both negative and positive family impacts of raising a child with ASD. Several of these factors might be expected to differ for immigrant families. This study compared positive and negative impacts, stressors, resources and supports, between 65 immigrant and 95 Canadian-born parents of children with ASD. There were no differences in positive or negative impacts overall. However, immigrant parents had significantly higher scores for positive coping, satisfaction with formal services, and informal social supports. Predictors of outcome differed somewhat for the two groups, but higher positive coping significantly predicted greater positive outcomes in both groups. These findings suggest that the experiences of immigrant and Canadian-born parents may be more similar than different.