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, 2003). After 2 years of continuous intervention, children in the program showed significant improvements in academic achievement and classroom behavior in comparison to children with behavior disorders who did not take part in the program. Also, severely disruptive children showed marked improvement in self-regulation following participation in the program. Furthermore, parents of children with behavior disorders that took part in the program reported reduced stress and improved parenting practices (August et al., 2003). Significant gains in adaptability and social skills were also apparent following participation in the program (August et al., 2003).
August et al. (2003) examined three outcomes that resulted from the Early Risers "Skills for Success" program. These three outcomes were: 1) children's aggressive behavior; 2) social competence; and 3) academic achievement. Results of the study indicate that the decisions parents make regarding placing their children in various aspects of prevention programs affects the success of the outcomes from the program. This occurs to the extent that participation in certain individual components of the program mediates particular outcomes. Specifically, attendance in the summer program resulted in gains in social competency for children at all severity levels of behavior disorder. This program provided training groups each day that were focused on instruction of prosocial behaviors and social problem solving skills, and activities that encouraged peer affiliation and friendship-building. On the other hand, participation in the family program did not result in any increases in social competence among the children with behavior disorders. However, this program was associated with decreased aggression among children with low-severity behavioral disorders (August et al., 2003).
Based on the findings of the study, the researchers suggested that prevention strategies need to include better tailored interventions (August et al., 2003). Needs assessment technologies must be developed that could generate personalized information about children with behavior disorders in order to design the most optimal intervention. This development of prevention programs would necessitate measurement tools that could be used to match intervention strategies with children's specific needs before and/or during treatment (August et al., 2003). In the Triple P-Parenting Program, children and parents are exposed to all intervention components, but the intensity of service is adjusted on an individual basis. Furthermore, instead of a single uniform program with only one level of involvement, this program presents a multilevel system of parent support on a multilevel continuum of increasing intensity. Therefore, all parents receive the same content of the intervention, but the intervention varies among individuals with regards to the intensity of skills training and practitioner support provided (August et al., 2003). This tailored approach is desirable because it provides a great amount of flexibility and allows the children and families to participate in the program to the extent that suits their needs (August et al., 2003). Ideally, tools for measurement could be developed that accurate track a child or parent's progress in relation to the expected path of their individually tailored program. Intervention intensity could therefore be adjusted on a continual basis according to this measured information (August et al., 2003).
Social-skills training has been demonstrated as an effective means of improving behavior among children with behavior disorders. Research has shown that training in social skills is increasingly becoming common as a means for the prevention of developmental crime among children. Beelmann & Lusel (2006) performed a meta-analysis of randomized evaluations of the effectiveness of social skills training for the promotion of social competence and the prevention of antisocial behavior. Results of the meta-analysis revealed a significant overall positive effect for social skills training post-intervention as well as at a 3-month follow-up. The effect sizes were demonstrated to be greater for improvements in social competence than for antisocial behavior. Furthermore, cognitive-behavioral programs demonstrated the most optimal results in terms of time and outcomes (Beelmann & Lusel, 2006).
The development of social skills can be very challenging for children with behavior disorders. Children with Autism, especially, may find social skills difficult to acquire, and this can impact the child, their peers, parents, and teachers.
Keen, Rodger, Doussin, and Braithwaite (2007) investigated the effects of a program called the "Stronger Families Project." This program is a social-pragmatic intervention aimed at improving the communication and social abilities of children with autism. The researchers looked at the effects of the program on the communication and symbolic abilities of a group of children with autism between the ages of 2 and 4 years old. In the study, measures of the children's behavior were take before and after the intervention, and parents were interviewed by the researchers to determine the impact that factors such as maternal stress and parental competence had on the social communication of the autistic child. Results of the study indicated there were some changes in behaviors following the intervention according to reports from parents, but the ratings provided by independent observers did not indicate any significant improvements. These findings indicate that further research must be conducted to identify more effective interventions for the improvement of social skills among children with autism.
The role of prevention interventions with children who have behavioral disorders can not be stressed enough. It is of the utmost importance that attention be focused on ensuring that behavior disorders among children do not develop into anti-social behavior later on. Furthermore, children with behavior disorders that exhibit aggressive and oppositional behavior are at risk for the development of serious anti-social behavior that can persist into adulthood. Bauer and Webster-Stratton (2006) determined that training programs for parents are an effective means of promoting positive parenting and strategies for discipline, as well as enhance the child's social skills, emotional self-regulation, and ability to solve problems. These researchers also suggested that family doctors can play a role in prevention by practicing developmental surveillance of patients with behavior disorders in order to prevent disruptive behavior problems, address the concerns of parents, and nurture the healthy development of the children's social and emotional competency.
Overall, improvement in social skills results in improved overall behavior for children with behavior disorders. Improved social interactions have a ripple effect, as negative interactions with peers, parents, and teachers are reduced, and the children feel more socially supported, which results in an improved self-concept.
August, G.J., Egan, E.A., Realmuto, G.M., Hektner, J.M. (2003). Parceling component effects of a multifaceted prevention program for disruptive elementary school children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, October.
Bauer, N.S. & Webster-Stratton, C. (2006). Prevention of behavioral disorders in primary care. Current Opinion in Pediatrics, 18(6), 654-60.
Beelmann, a. & Lusel, F. (2006). Child social skills training in developmental crime prevention: effects on antisocial behavior and social competence. Psicothema, 18(3), 603-10.
Bor, W., Sanders, M.R., Markie-Dadds, C. (2002). The effectsof the Triple P-Positive Parenting Program on preschool children with co-occurring disruptive behavior and attentional/hyperactive difficulties. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, December.
Gonzalez, L.O., Sellers, E.W. (2002). The Effects of a stress-management program on self-concept, locus of control, and the acquisition of coping skills in school-age…[continue]
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