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If you would like additional information on this topic,
- Boyd, Brian, Examining the relationship between stress and lack of social support in mothers of children with autism, Focus on Autism & Other Developmental Disabilities, Winter 2002, Vol. 17, Issue 4.
- Bloch, Judith S. & Joan D. Weinstein, Families of Young Children with Autism; Social Work in Mental Health, 2010, Vol. 8, Issue 1, p 23
- Milshtein, Shahaf, Nurit Yirmiya, David oppenheim, Nina Koren-Karie, & Shlomit Levi, Resolution of the Diagnosis Among Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Associations with Child and Parent Characteristics, Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders, Jan. 2010, Vol. 40, Issue 1, p 89-99
- Murray, Donna S. , Lisa A. Ruble, Heather Willis, & Cynthia A. Molloy, Parent and Teacher Report of Social Skills in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders, Language, Speech, & Hearing Services in Schools, April 2009, Vol. 40, Issue 2, p 109-115
- Shore, Stephen, Screening, The language of music: working with children on the autism spectrum; Journal of Education; 2002; Vol. 183; Issue 2.
- Siegel, Bryna, Ph.D. The World of the Autistic Child. Oxford University Press. Oxford, NY: 1996.
- Tarakeshwar, Nalini, & Kenneth Pargament, Religious coping in families of children with autism, Focus on Autism & Other Developmental Disabilities, Winter 2001, Vol. 16, Issue 4.
- Vanderbilt Evidence-based Practice Center. (2014). Therapies for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Behavioral Interventions Update. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
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Table of Contents
Autism, Ahead of Print.
Mental health clinicians often report significant challenges when delivering evidence-based interventions in community settings, particularly when unexpected client stressors (or emergent life events) interfere with the therapy process. The current study sought to extend the study of emergent life events to children with autism spectrum disorder by examining the occurrence and impact of emergent life events in the context of a collaborative, caregiver-mediated intervention for reducing challenging behaviors in children with autism spectrum disorder, An Individualized Mental Health Intervention for ASD (AIM HI). Participants included 38 child–clinician dyads enrolled in a community effectiveness trial of An Individualized Mental Health Intervention for ASD. Video recordings of 100 therapy sessions were coded for caregiver-reported emergent life events and clinician adherence to the Individualized Mental Health Intervention for ASD protocol. Results indicated that mild to severe emergent life events were reported in 36% of sessions, and were reported for 58% of children at some point during treatment. Greater number of child comorbid diagnoses and less clinician experience were both significantly associated with a higher number of caregiver-reported emergent life events. There was no significant link between emergent life events and clinician adherence to the Individualized Mental Health Intervention for ASD protocol. Findings offer implications for evidence-based intervention implementation, particularly the importance of incorporating clinician training in addressing complex presentations and crises in the context of evidence-based interventions.Lay abstractMental health clinicians often report significant challenges when delivering evidence-based interventions (EBI) in community settings, particularly when unexpected client stressors (or emergent life events; ELEs) interfere with the therapy process. The current study sought to extend the study of ELEs to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) by examining the occurrence and impact of ELEs in the context of a collaborative, caregiver-mediated intervention for reducing challenging behaviors in children with ASD. This intervention was An Individualized Mental Health Intervention for children with ASD (referred to as AIM HI). Participants included 38 clinicians and child clients who were enrolled in a community effectiveness trial of AIM HI. Video recordings of 100 therapy sessions were coded for caregiver-reported ELEs and also how well clinicians adhered to the AIM HI protocol. Results indicated that mild to severe ELEs were reported in 36% of therapy sessions, and were reported for 58% of children at some point during the intervention. Children who had a greater number of diagnoses (in addition to the autism diagnosis) tended to have more ELEs. In addition, clinicians with less years of experience tended to have sessions with more ELEs. There was no significant link between ELEs and how well clinicians adhered to the AIM HI protocol. Findings offer implications for the implementation of EBI, particularly the importance of incorporating clinician training in addressing complex presentations and crises in the context of EBIs.
Autism, Ahead of Print.
Autistic women often struggle with the onset of menstruation, a key transition point in the female reproductive lifespan. Presently, there is no research investigating how autistic people navigate the menopausal transition, and whether it poses additional challenges in addition to those already faced by neurotypical women. As a preliminary participatory study in this area, we conducted an online focus group with seven autistic individuals, aged 49–63 years (median = 64.5 years) and assigned female at birth, to explore the state of knowledge about the menopause in autism, difficulties the menopause might bring, support that might be needed, and what questions require scientific investigation. Thematic analysis of the discussion generated three themes: (a) lack of knowledge and understanding; (b) cracking the mask and adaptive functioning; and (c) finding support. Themes suggested a lack of professional knowledge, understanding and communication about menopause for autistic people, and an absence of support. Menopause was discussed as heightening pre-existing and generating new cognitive, social, emotional and sensory difficulties. This study illustrates the need for greater focus of attention towards how autistic people cope with the major life transition of menopause.Lay abstractAutistic girls are known to struggle with the onset of menstruation, reporting that during their period, sensory sensitivities are heightened, it becomes more difficult to think clearly and control their emotions and they struggle more with everyday life and self-care. Yet surprisingly, nothing is known about how autistic women handle the menopausal transition in midlife. In non-autistic women, the menopause brings many physical changes and challenging symptoms from hot flushes to feeling more anxious and depressed. Because autistic women are already vulnerable to suicide, poor physical and mental health, and because they may already struggle with planning, controlling their emotions and coping with change, the menopause may be an especially challenging time. Yet, not one single study exists on the menopause in autism, so we conducted an online discussion (focus group) with seven autistic women. They confirmed that very little is known about menopause in autistic people, very little support is available and that menopause might be especially difficult for autistic people. Autism-related difficulties (including sensory sensitivity, socializing with others and communicating needs) were reported to worsen during the menopause, often so dramatically that some participants suggested they found it impossible to continue to mask their struggles. Participants also reported having extreme meltdowns, experiencing anxiety and depression, and feeling suicidal. This study highlights how important it is that professionals pay attention to menopause in autism, and discusses future research directions.
Autism, Ahead of Print.
Past research has largely focused on the negative aspects of well-being of autistic young adults during the post-school transition. Research that meaningfully includes autistic individuals and captures their perspectives of positive well-being is essential for stakeholders to better understand how to provide services that respond to the needs and wants of the autistic community. In the current study, 14 autistic young adults in a post-school transition program participated in a Photovoice project and used photos to express their ideas about well-being. A participatory action research approach was used to support participants’ active engagement in the research processes and to encourage meaningful expression of their first-person perspectives. Results revealed an account of well-being reflecting expressions of individuality and growth, the significance of having close relationships, and a sense of connection with the community. This study has implications for research and practice that promotes well-being among the autistic community using approaches that are ethically informed and inclusive of autistic voices.Lay abstractPast research has mainly focused on autistic people’s deficits and poor outcomes compared to other groups of people. Little is known about their positive life experiences, and how to support them to achieve a higher quality of life. It is important to include autistic individuals in research so that they can influence how their voices are represented in a meaningful way and how the research results will be useful to them. In this study, a university researcher collaborated with 14 autistic young adults in a post-school transition program to design and run the research, collect and analyze the data, and use the results to create a presentation to the community. Specifically, the participants took photos in daily life and discussed their ideas about what a good life means to them. Results showed that these young adults described themselves as uniquely and different, but they were eager to learn and adapt. They also valued their relationships with their families, friends, and animals around them, as well as the community at large. This research shows that autistic individuals have important perspectives to share and knowledge to contribute when they are given the opportunities to participate in different aspects of research. The findings will be useful in developing services and influencing policies that promote well-being among autistic adults.
Autism, Ahead of Print.
In this qualitative study, 11 mothers of toddlers with autism participated in interviews to investigate how they perceived their roles and their competency to support toddlers’ social learning in the context of both professional-implemented and parent-mediated early intervention models. The authors conducted a thematic analysis with multiple layers of independent coding. Four resulting themes highlighted challenges and contributors to parent self-efficacy. First, related to child characteristics, challenges were most prominent in the early period as participants adjusted to the diagnosis and reached to connect when social difficulties emerged. Second, having a peripheral role in early intervention challenged participants’ confidence in their abilities, while receiving guidance to assume an active leadership role supported their sense of efficacy for facilitating toddlers’ social learning. In a third theme, participants described specific and general examples of their expertise. Fourth, participants considered the transactional context of parent–child interaction and largely viewed their toddlers’ independent wills, natures, and preferences as strengths upon which to build social engagement. The results support the need for early interventionists to promote and leverage family capacity for facilitating toddler learning as social challenges begin to appear for toddlers with autism.Lay AbstractParent-participatory early intervention practices are linked to parents’ positive views of their own and their children’s capabilities, beliefs that are associated with a range of parent and child outcomes. A qualitative study was conducted with 11 mothers of toddlers with autism who had experience with both professionally directed and parent-mediated early intervention. Participants were interviewed to explore their perspectives on their roles in relation to professionals and on how they viewed their ability to support their toddlers’ social learning. An in-depth analysis of the transcribed interviews resulted in four themes. First, in the early stages, participants experienced challenges to their self-efficacy as they adjusted to the diagnosis and reached to connect with their child when social challenges emerged. Second, participants’ views of their capability were stronger when they were provided with background knowledge enabling them to take the lead in guiding their children’s learning than when professionals modeled predetermined intervention strategies for them to copy. Third, participants provided specific examples of their expertise to support their toddlers’ social learning and viewed their close parent–child relationship and intimate knowledge of their children as valuable to the intervention. Fourth, participants voiced respect for their toddlers’ natures and preferences, positioning them to build on their toddlers’ strengths in everyday interactions. The results support the need for early intervention providers to promote and leverage family capacity for facilitating toddler learning as social challenges begin to appear for toddlers with autism.
Autism, Ahead of Print.
The recent increase of diagnosed cases of autism spectrum disorders has led to a considerable rise in the demands for autism-related services and interventions. Parents express the need to access relevant information about their child’s difference, and parent support interventions appear to respond effectively to this demand, as they are knowledge-focused and offer indirect support to the child. The aim of this study was to capture the subjective experience of facilitators who implemented a psychoeducational program called Beyond PDD: Parental Skills within My Reach. Structured interviews of the facilitators (N = 18) provided insight on institutional support, issues related to the program itself, required and/or recommended professional background, personal experience and competences, and difficulties linked to recruitment and research criteria. Recommendations aiming to enhance program implementation and delivery were then created using facilitators’ feedback on these aspects.Lay abstractThe recent increase of diagnosed cases of autism spectrum disorders has led to a considerable rise in the demands for autism-related services and interventions. Caring for an autistic child can be perceived as an enrichment, which coexists with stress in parents. Parents express the need to access relevant information about their child’s difference, and parent support interventions appear to respond effectively to this demand, as they are knowledge-focused and offer indirect support to the child. The aim of this study was to capture the subjective experience of facilitators who implemented a psychoeducational program called Beyond PDD: Parental Skills within My Reach. This program is based on the acknowledged fact that parents of autistic children play a central role in their child’s development. Its main goal is to help parents of autistic children under the age of 8 to identify, develop, and update their parenting competences. This program broaches different topics: (1) specific features of an autistic child, (2) post-diagnostic parental adjustment, (3) communication and social relationships, (4) importance of providing the child with a structured environment, and (5) parental emotions and perceptions that impact everyday life. Structured interviews of the facilitators provided insight on institutional support, issues related to the program itself, required and/or recommended professional background, personal experience and competences, and difficulties linked to recruitment and research criteria. Recommendations aiming to enhance program implementation and delivery were then created using facilitators’ feedback on these aspects.
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