The participant's conditional use of requests for assistance and independent task completion were sustained across time" (Reichle, Dropik, Alden-Anderson & Haley, 2008, ¶ 1). A number of young children with autism experience considerable communicative delays.
Peter (a pseudonym), a 5-year-old boy, diagnosed with autism and global developmental delay, had been diagnosed with autism at 3 years, 8 months (Reichle, Dropik, Alden-Anderson & Haley, 2008, Participants section, ¶ 1). Sessions for the study by Reichle, Dropik, Alden-Anderson & Haley occurred in Peter's home. The following expands on what happened during this study.
Peter's mother, younger sibling, and one or two staff persons moved freely in and out of this area during intervention sessions. Teaching requests for assistance occurred across three different functional activities that included opening a jar (Activity 1), opening a wrapper (Activity 2), and unfastening his pants (Activity 3). Peter's parents and intervention team identified these as activities that he could not perform independently. Interventionists implemented baseline and intervention procedures for the first two activities at a child's table or on the family room floor. The third activity was baselined and subsequently taught during routine toileting activity (Reichle, Dropik, Alden-Anderson & Haley, 2008, Activities and setting section, ¶ 1).
For each of the noted three activities, intervention consisted of two phases:
1. Traching Peter to request assistance followed by
2. teaching him to complete the task independently. (Ibid.)
In addition, the interventionists used a most-to-least response prompt hierarchy during the two phases. Stimulus prompts, structured as modified task difficulty, also taught the participant to open a jar and open a wrapper. Reichle, Dropik, Alden-Anderson and Haley (2008) assert that a young child with autism may learn to utilize requests for assistance conditionally. Even though Peter's mother rated the basic intervention acceptability and effectiveness to be high, results indicate that an interventionist cannot assume the child's obligatory utilization of requesting assistance will produce correct conditional use. After Peter acquired some initial skill in completing the task he was learning, the conditional use of requests occur ed.
In the study, "The usage and perceived outcomes of early intervention and early childhood programs for young children with autism spectrum disorder," Koro Hume, Scott Bellini and Cathy Pratt (2005), Indiana University in Bloomington, stress the value of early intervention (EI) and early childhood education (ECE) for young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD. Young children with autism may progress quicker than young children with other severe neurodevelopmental disorders, Hume, Bellini and Pratt assert. They purport that some early intervention strategies seem to reduce the debilitating impact of autism. They also note that when an intervention starts before the autistic child reaches 5, children with autism possess significantly better outcomes.
Play and imagination proves vital in social development, Lena Hoffman-Raap (2004), University of Canberra, explains in the article, "Peer play and the autism spectrum: The art of guiding children's socialization and imagination - integrated play groups field manual" / The Integrated Play Groups (IPG) model offers a structured system of support to promote participation in diverse play experiences that ultimately will permit children of differing ages and abilities on the autism spectrum to build up a sense of acceptance and belonging in their community (Hoffman-Raap, 2004, ¶ 2). The following four stages denote the IPG model for those involved with facilitating meaningful learning experiences for the young child on the autism spectrum, along with their typical peers.
1. embracing the spirit of play,
2. setting the stage for play,
3. observing children at play, and
4. guided participation in play. (Hoffman-Raap, 2004, ¶ 4)
Those children who received recreation therapy were perceived to reach greater social outcomes. The empirical evidence in this area, albeit, is scant. Across developmental areas, Hume, Bellini and Pratt (2005) found stronger relationships between service delivery methods and perceived outcomes. Parent training also significantly correlated with cognitive, emotional and social outcomes, as well as that overall quality of life for the child with autism (Hume, Bellini & Pratt, 2005, Reported outcomes…section, ¶ 3).
Considerations which materialized for contributing to a supportive environment for young children with autism, particularly for children from their birth through five years of age, evolve as one illuminates and dispels any dark misunderstandings with knowledge and understanding. During this study, the researcher presented a sampling of current literature that confirms that at this time, no concrete cause for autism has yet been confirmed. To create a supportive environment, nevertheless, there are a number of things parents can do to help autistic children overcome related challenges.
When parents become educated about autism, they learn how to best cope with trying circumstances related to this debilitating disorder. Being consistent, sticking to a schedule, rewarding good behavior and implementing positive reinforcement not only help the autistic child, but also the parent. What the researcher asserts may be the primary point to remember in creating a supportive environment for the child with autism is to remember first and foremost that children with autism are children first.
Best practices in creating a supportive environment also include that it be a safe place; a nurturing place for the child. To create a supportive environment for young children with autism, the caregiver needs to adhere to the primary point Wheeler (2003) notes at the start of this study, keep the child in a routine so that he/she may know what to expect to happen next.
Autism Spectrum Disorders Overview. (2007, February 09). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved June 11, 2009 from http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/overview.htm Hoffman-Raap, L. (2004). Peer play and the autism spectrum: The art of guiding children's socialization and imagination -- integrated play groups field manual. Australian Journal of Early Childhood. Early Childhood Australia Inc. Retrieved June 11, 2009 from HighBeam Research: http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-122421170.html
Hume, K., Scott Bellini, S. & Pratt, C. (2005). The usage and perceived outcomes of early intervention and early childhood programs for young children with autism spectrum disorder. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education. Sage Publications, Inc. Retrieved
June 11, 2009 from HighBeam Research: http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G142574428.html
Kendrick M. & Blagojevic, B. (2005). Autism, treatment approaches and young children -- what do we need to know? The University of Maine Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies. Vol. 8. Retrieved June 11, 2009 from http://www.ccids.umaine.edu/resources/facts/facts_2005/autism.htm
Kern, P. & Aldridge, D. (2006). Using embedded music therapy interventions to support outdoor play of young children with autism in an inclusive community-based child care program. Journal of Music Therapy. American Music Therapy Association. Retrieved June 11, 2009 from HighBeam Research: http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P1233098411.html
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Reichle, J., Dropik, P., Alden-Anderson, E. & Haley, T. (2008). Teaching a young child with autism to request assistance conditionally: A preliminary study. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
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Wheeler, M. (2003). Good night, sleep tight, and don't let the…