04 SES 02 A, Attitudes of Different Groups I
Parallel Paper Session
Difficulties in spontaneous communication can be a core feature of autism (Jordan, 1999). Children with autism tend to initiate communication in fewer contexts (Potter and Whittaker, 2001; Chiang, 2009) when compared with children with typical development (Wetherby et al., 1988). The significance of communication as an essential human right is stated in both the European Convention on Human Rights (Article 10, online) and the UN Convention on the rights of the Child (Article 13, online). Enabling children with autism to communicate messages which others are not able to predict can lead to real self-determination and better quality of life (Potter and Whittaker, 2001). Previous research has explored the efficacy of child-focused interventions in improving communication skills in children with autism (Whalen et al., 2006; Jones et al., 2007). However, less is known about the effect of adult interactive style. According to the transactional model of development (Prizant et al., 2006), adults’ behaviour shapes children’s development and influences their communication.
Few studies have highlighted the importance of adult interactive style in developing children’s spontaneous communication in naturalistic school settings. These studies have generally used descriptive or evaluative case study methodologies. They either observed children’s spontaneous communication and interviewed staff on what they considered to be a ‘communication-enabling’ style or staff were trained to work in a way intended to foster spontaneous communication.
The present study used an action research methodology to address the need for more evidence-based practice (Odom et al., 2005; Parsons et al., 2009). It differs from other studies on adult style in that the researcher consulted with the staff on key principles which facilitate communication to develop an agreed set of principles. The main research objective was to explore the effects of using these principles on children’s spontaneous communication. Some of the research questions were:
1) Is there a difference in the frequency with which children initiate communication with others when adults change their interactive style?
2) In which activities do children initiate more communication when adults change their interactive style?
3) To what extent were adults able to change their interactive style?
Chiang, H.M. (2009) ‘Naturalistic Observations of Elicited Expressive Communication of Children with Autism’, Autism 13 (2): 165-178. Dancey, C. and Reidy, J. (2002) Statistics Without Maths for Psychology. Second Edition. Harlow, England: Pearson. European Convention on Human Rights [online] http://www.hri.org/docs/ECHR50.html#C.Art10 Jones, E., Feely, K. and Takacs, J. (2007) ‘Teaching Spontaneous Responses to Young Children with Autism’, Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis 40 (3): 565-570. Jordan, R. (1999) Autistic Spectrum Disorders: An Introductory Handbook for Practitioners. London: David Fulton Publishers. Odom, S.L., Brantlinger, E., Gerstein, R., Horner, R.H., Thompson, B. and Harris, K.R. (2005) ‘Research in Special Education: Scientific Methods and Evidence-Based Practices’, Council for Exceptional Children, 71 (2): 137-148. Parsons, S., Guldberg, K., MacLeod, A., Jones, G., Prunty, A. & Balfe, T. (2009) International Review of The Literature of Evidence of Best Practice Provision In the Education of Persons with Autistic Spectrum Disorders Ireland: NCSE (www.ncse.ie). Potter, C. and Whittaker, C. (2001) Enabling Communication in Children with Autism. London: Jessica Kingsley. Prizant, B., Wetherby, A., Rubin, E., Laurent, A. and Rydell, P. (2006) The SCERTS Model: A Comprehensive Educational Approach for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Volume I: Assessment. Baltimore, Maryland: Paul H. Brookes Publishing. Wetherby, A. M., Cain, D. H., Yonclas, D. G. and Walker, V. G. (1988) ‘Analysis of Intentional Communication of Normal Children from the Prelinguistic to the Multiword Stage’, Journal of Speech and Hearing Research 31: 240-252. Whalen, C., Schreibman, L. and Ingersoll, B. (2006) ‘The Collateral Effects of Joint Attention Training on Social Initiations, Positive Affect, Imitation, and Spontaneous Speech for Young Children with Autism’, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 36 (5): 655-664. UN Convention on Children www.unicef.org/crc
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