Recent Submissions

  • Comparing an Interdependent and Dependent Group Contingency to Increase Physical Activity in Students During Recess

    Asaro, Madeline; Center for Applied Disability Studies
    Physical activity is defined as any body movement that requires energy expenditure. It has important physiological, mental health, academic, and cognitive benefits for children and youth. Despite these advantages, a large proportion of this population does not meet the minimum recommended amount of physical activity. Recent studies have shown that the interdependent group contingency (IGC) and dependent group contingency (DGC) improve physical activity; however, no comparison of the effects of these group contingencies on physical activity has been conducted. We used a multielement within a concurrent multiple baseline across classes design to compare the effectiveness of these group contingencies to increase physical activity in two classes of grade 5 students. Both group contingencies increased physical activity in both classes, with the IGC producing slightly higher levels of physical activity than the DGC at the class-wide and individual levels of analyses. Conversely, side effect data suggest that participants in both classes preferred the DGC. Results are discussed within the context of treatment decisions and suggestions for future research.
  • Comparing High-Probability Demands With and Without Food to Increase the Consumption of Healthy Food in Picky Eaters

    Tardi, Laura; Center for Applied Disability Studies
    The high-probability (high-p) instructional sequence is a nonintrusive antecedent-based intervention that involves the presentation of a series of high-p demands followed by one low- probability demand. To date, only nine studies have examined the effectiveness of the high-p sequence to treat food selectivity in children, and the findings have been mixed. In the current study, we used a multielement within a multiple baseline across food sets design to compare the effectiveness of two iterations of the high-p sequence to increase the consumption of healthy food in one picky eater. One iteration consisted of presenting three bites of a preferred food followed by a bite of the nonpreferred food and the other iteration consisted of presenting three bites of an empty spoon followed by a bite of the nonpreferred food. We found the high-p preferred food condition was more effective than the high-p empty spoon condition during one of two comparisons; however, we were unable to replicate the effectiveness of the high-p preferred food condition in the second comparison. Results are discussed within the context of the limitations and implications for future research.
  • Parental Literacy Experiences: Relation to a Child's Reading Performance Across Cultures

    Banach, Nicole; Center for Applied Disability Studies
    Correlational studies have confirmed significant relationships between parents’ past reading experiences and involvement in children’s literacy at home and how this could be associated with their children’s reading outcomes and motivation. The current study examined parental self- reported literacy experiences, home literacy experiences, child reported motivation for reading and potential associations with children’s reading development across Hispanic, African American, Caucasian, and Chinese cultures. Participants were recruited from public schools in New Haven Connecticut, United States of American and one urban elementary school in China. In total 238 children and either of their parents participated in the study. Parents form both samples completed a personal information questionnaire while participating children completed a battery consisting of reading tasks and a reading motivation measure. Significant correlations for differences between cultural groups were identified. Overall, findings of this study suggest that parents’ reading experiences and culture-specific home literacy practices could influence children’s reading motivation and reading performance. To conclude, existing research and findings from the current study propose culture-specific literacy practices that may be adapted by other cultures to strengthen children’s reading development. Additional directions for future research were discussed.
  • Beyond Displacement: Understanding the Intersection of Cultural Variables on Mental Health Service Utilization among Newcomers

    Davy, Brittany; Center for Applied Disability Studies
    Existing literature regarding mental health and mental health service access reveals disparities between the experiences of newcomers and their native-born counterparts. Previous studies have mainly focused on how the immigration process and displacement from one’s country of origin influence mental health. Comparatively, few researchers have explored the association between these contributing factors and culture in how immigrants and refugees understand their mental health and approach available services. The goal of this study was to understand newcomers’ perspectives on mental health service access and utilization in order to ultimately meet their mental health needs using a phenomenological approach to inquiry. Interviews and a focus group were conducted with 10 newcomers and 5 support staff at a newcomer community organization in the Greater Toronto Area. A thematic analysis of the narratives was used to identify themes among the data. Findings from interviews with newcomers revealed the following themes: (1) perceptions of mental health challenges are influenced by internal and external pressures, (2) cultural beliefs influence if and when newcomers seek medical intervention, and (3) expectations and experiences of accessing services within the Canadian healthcare system. Additionally, findings from the support staff focus group revealed the following themes: (1) the influence of undocumented status and financial difficulties on newcomers’ mental health challenges, (2) tension between newcomers’ openness with mental health challenges and stigmatization from others in their cultural communities, and (3) barriers and facilitators associated with help-seeking and mental health service utilization. The dissemination of these findings for restructuring current mental health services and providing efficient and effective support for this vulnerable population is discussed.
  • Examining Longitudinal Patterns of Psychotropic Medication Use by Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities Relocating from Institutions to Community Settings

    Hansford, Rebecca; Center for Applied Disability Studies
    For 133 years, institutionalization was the primary model of care provided for individuals with intellectual disabilities in Ontario. By March 31, 2009, the last remaining institution in Ontario was closed. Given that individuals with intellectual disabilities are more likely to develop health and mental health comorbidities than the general population, investigating outcomes after relocation is critical for ensuring safe and successful transitions to community settings. This study examined changes in psychotropic medication usage following deinstitutionalization as well as changes over time in the community. Various proxy measures were collected on demographic variables (e.g., age, sex, etc.), adaptive functioning, challenging behaviour, psychotropic medication usage, health status, and mental health status. A multilevel model was used to investigate within and between-person changes in psychotropic medication usage longitudinally across three points in time. Variables, including adaptive functioning, challenging behaviour, and health and mental health status, were investigated as potential predictors of psychotropic medication usage. Health variables and mental health status positively predicted psychotropic medication. Cognitive performance and health instability from the facility to the community had a negative influence on the total number of psychotropic medications. Challenging behaviour did not predict psychotropic medication usage in this study, possibly due to the measure used. Further examination of these results may be used to inform policy and practice for individuals with intellectual disabilities in Ontario.
  • Tamoxifen or Estradiol Limited to the Induction Phase of Nicotine Sensitization Enhances the Expression of Locomotor Sensitization in Ovariectomized and in Intact Female Rats

    Baumbach, Jennet; Department of Psychology
    In both humans and rodents, females are more vulnerable to addiction than males, which has been linked to higher concentrations of the hormone estradiol in females. In rats, nicotine injections produce greater sensitization (neurological changes responsible for drug cravings) in females than in males, which could contribute to sex differences in susceptibility to addiction. The purpose of these experiments was to investigate the effects of estradiol during three nicotine injections (two consecutive days and a third injection nine days later). Results from these experiments indicate that depletion of estradiol via ovariectomy attenuates nicotine sensitization in females, which can be rescued by estradiol injection limited to the induction phase of sensitization. Administration of tamoxifen (antagonist at nuclear estradiol receptors, agonist of the membrane-bound estradiol receptor GPER1) did not alter sensitization in gonadally intact rats, and was sufficient to restore expression of sensitization in ovariectomized females (similar to estradiol). Findings from these experiments indicate that the enhancing effects of estradiol on nicotine sensitization occur during the induction phase, and may be mediated by membrane bound estrogen receptors (e.g., GPER1).
  • Comparing the High-Probability Instructional Sequence with and without Food to Increase Consumption of Nonpreferred Foods in Children with Food Selectivity

    Leathen, Nancy; Center for Applied Disability Studies
    The high-probability (high-p) instructional sequence is a non-intrusive procedure involving the presentation of a series of high-p instructions followed by 1 low-probability instruction. To date, 9 studies – with mixed findings – examined its effectiveness to treat food selectivity in children. We used a multielement within a reversal design to compare the effectiveness and efficiency of 2 iterations of the high-p sequence to increase food consumption in 2 food-selective children: high- p with preferred food on a spoon and high-p with an empty spoon. For both participants, neither high-p sequence alone increased consumption. For one participant, consumption increased in the high-p empty spoon condition with the introduction of non-removal of the spoon (NRS). For the other participant, consumption initially increased in the high-p with food condition with the introduction of NRS plus re-presentation but subsequently decreased. Results are discussed within the context of treatment implications and suggestions for future research.
  • Shifting from Agency to Community: Exploring the Impact of a Community Connections Program for Mental Health Recovery

    Ostrom, Julie; Applied Health Sciences Program
    The purpose of this project was to explore clients’ experiences of the Community Connections program, an outpatient mental health program in a clinical setting to determine the effectiveness of the program for mental health recovery and community integration. The common themes from the various forms of data collection suggest that (1) the program was effective in enhancing the clients’ self-awareness, (2) the program effectively taught the clients about leisure and its therapeutic benefits for mental health recovery, (3) the program taught clients about the importance of the use of leisure as a way to integrate into the community, and (4) the clients believed that the program could be improved by providing more of an experiential component to teach skills for community integration. While the program taught the clients important lessons that they have used or will use throughout their mental health recovery, the clients identified some areas for improvement that could help future clients experience successful community integration. Additionally, this research design produced an effective model for comprehensive program evaluations that integrate program design with service using prevalent principles of therapeutic recreation practice. This research supports the growing literature that suggests that leisure and therapeutic recreation can be beneficial tools for clients to understand as they progress through their mental health recovery and prepare for community integration
  • The Impact of Pairing on Therapeutic Rapport and Treatment Outcomes for Children with Autism

    Ensor, Rebecca; Center for Applied Disability Studies
    Pairing, or conditioning a therapist as a generalized reinforcer, is a commonly recommended initial strategy in behaviour analytic intervention for children with autism. Specifically, pairing is intended to enhance the working relationship (i.e., therapeutic rapport) between a therapist and client. Recent literature has demonstrated that pairing is positively related to therapeutic rapport and therapeutic outcomes; however, few research studies have evaluated the skills necessary to pair effectively. The purpose of this study was to conduct pairing skills training (Lugo, King, Lamphere, & McArdle, 2017) and assess the effects of this training on behavioural indices of therapeutic rapport and child treatment outcomes using a concurrent multiple probe design (with replication). Four Instructor Therapists (ages 22 to 24 years old) were trained on six pairing skills using behavioural skills training with an adult confederate. Following training, this protocol was used with four children (ages 3 to 5 years old) diagnosed with autism, during the first 20 minutes of each therapy session. Therapists efficiently achieved competency on pairing skills with a confederate, but they required verbal performance feedback when generalizing learned skills to a child participant. When implemented, pairing was related to increased physical approach during free time and at the teaching table, as well as less interfering behaviour during sessions. There were no differences in accurate academic responding from baseline to intervention. The implications of study findings and future directions are discussed.
  • An Evaluation of a Telecommunication Model for Training Staff to Implement Common Behavioural Protocols

    Robertson, Joseph; Center for Applied Disability Studies
    Telecommunication models have been shown to increase the accessibility of effective behavioural services by training mediators to implement evidence-based protocols with children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Behavioural skills training (BST), an evidence-based procedure, has been shown to be effective for training staff when delivered via a telecommunication model. Further evaluation is needed to assess generalization of trainee outcomes to clinical settings and untrained procedures, and the corresponding effects of training staff on child outcome measures. The purpose of this study was to assess the efficacy of BST delivered through videoconferencing software for training behaviour technicians to implement errorless learning protocols (e.g., trained skill) to an actor role playing a child with ASD. A concurrent multiple-baseline design across three behaviour technicians was used to assess the generalization of any training effects to: working with a child, implementing a similar untrained skill (e.g., paired stimulus preference assessment) and on child skill acquisition outcomes on individualized programming. Across three behaviour technicians, the average mean shift from baseline to post-training was 27.1% (trained skill) and 58% (untrained skill). Improved performance of the trained skill with a research assistant was maintained over 80% accuracy for all three behaviour technicians, but only one behaviour technician’s performance generalized to working with a child. Mixed results were found for child outcomes. Implications and future directions are discussed.
  • Parent-Mediated Targeted Intervention for Young Children At-Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder

    Azzano, Alicia; Center for Applied Disability Studies
    Given that screeners can now detect markers of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as early as six to nine months of age, conducting pre-diagnostic interventions for young children at risk for developing ASD is important to improve key developmental skills. Parents of three pre-diagnostic at-risk children (aged 19, 23 and 26 months old) first identified potential target problems on the Parent Observation of Early Markers Scale (POEMS, Feldman et al., 2012) that were confirmed in baseline observations. A multiple baseline design across parent and child behaviours was used to evaluate a parent-mediated behavioral intervention to increase targeted developmental skills (e.g. responding to name, pointing to request, motor imitation) and reduce ASD-like symptoms. Parents received individual training in their home one hour per week over M=19 weeks (range: 11 to 29 weeks) on teaching strategies incorporating applied behaviour analysis and natural teaching environment techniques. Parent training consisted of behavioural skills training (instructions, modeling, practice and feedback). Some trained child behaviors include the child responding to their name being called with eye contact, pointing to request and motor imitation. All parents and children improved skills that were maintained in a 4 or 8 week follow-up period. For the most part, child skills did not improve until parents reached 80% teaching fidelity. There was some evidence of child response generalization for untrained behaviors. Post-intervention, parents rated many targeted developmental skills as less concerning on the POEMS, suggesting that parents may be able to mitigate target developmental concerns in young children showing early symptoms of ASD.
  • The Cycle of Abuse for Individuals With Intellectual Disabilities who Engage in Sexually Offending Behaviour

    Hoath, Jordan; Applied Health Sciences Program
    Individuals with an intellectual disability (ID) have higher rates of childhood sexual abuse than other clinical groups, and the general population. Over the past 15 years, research has lent support to the theory of a cycle of abuse, which postulates a relationship or pattern between prior experience of sexual abuse and later sexual offending. However, there is limited research examining this pattern in samples of sex offenders with ID. To contribute to and expand on previous research, two studies were carried out to examine the cycle of abuse. Study 1 was an exploratory retrospective clinical file review study, which examined the co-occurrence of previous sexual abuse and later sexual offending in a clinical sample of individuals with ID who had received treatment. Results of study 1 indicated that having a history of sexual abuse was as common in my sample than in previously studied samples of offenders. Study 2 systematically reviewed the literature examining the cycle of abuse across populations and samples in an attempt to replicate and extend previous meta-analytic findings. Study 2 provided further evidence to support the theory of a cycle of abuse and revealed potentially mediating factors including gender and presence of intellectual disability. Future research is needed to examine the specific factors that may predict or prevent the onset of offending behaviour in individuals with ID who have experienced sexual abuse.
  • A Comparison of Modified Food Chaining and Simultaneous Presentation Plus Nonremoval of the Spoon to Treat Food Selectivity in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

    McHugh, Catherine L.; Applied Health Sciences Program
    Feeding disorders can range from mild (e.g., food selectivity by taste or texture) to severe (e.g., total food refusal; Bachmeyer, 2009). If left untreated, feeding disorders can result in serious health ramifications, including malnutrition, growth delays, and developmental delays (Kern & Marder, 1996). Recent studies comparing commonly used occupational therapy (OT) treatments and empirically supported applied behavior analysis (ABA) treatments found that the ABA treatments were effective for all children while the OT treatments were ineffective for all children exposed to the OT treatment (Addison et al., 2012; Peterson, Piazza, & Volkert, 2016). We used a multielement design to compare a modified version of a commonly used treatment, food chaining, and an empirically validated ABA treatment to treat the food selectivity of 2 children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). For both children, consumption of the target foods only increased during the ABA-treatment condition. We subsequently faded the size of the preferred food within the simultaneous-presentation arrangement, moved to a sequential-presentation arrangement, and then thinned the schedule of reinforcement. We will discuss the results within the context of treatment implications, limitations, and suggestions for future research.
  • Province-Wide Survey of the Effects of Quality Assurance Measures on Services for Adults with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities and Challenging Behaviours

    Ignatova, Evguenia; Center for Applied Disability Studies
    Introduction: In 2008, the Ministry of Community and Social Services in Ontario, Canada passed a developmental services act that includes the Quality Assurance Measures (QAM) for Behaviour Interventions (Part III) and the QAM Policy Directives for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and challenging behaviour. No research has examined the impact of QAM on IDD services. Methods: Online surveys addressing knowledge, practices and opinions related to QAM Part III and the Policy Directives were distributed to four general groups of Ontario IDD service personnel. Results: Sixty-six direct-care supervisors, 76 direct-care staff, 79 behaviour consultants, and 26 supervisors in behaviour support services participated. Direct-care staff had less knowledge and a poorer opinion of QAM than the other personnel. Primary reported concerns involved inadequate training and resources to meet QAM requirements. Conclusions: Personnel’s overall evaluation of QAM is predominantly favourable. Increasing resources, clarifying requirements, and promoting consistent monitoring related to QAM may help address the identified concerns.
  • (Re)Presenting the Orioles:A Historiographical Analysis of Black Hockey History in St. Catharines

    Wilks, Lauren; Applied Health Sciences Program
    The St. Catharines Orioles was the first all-black hockey team in Ontario and played in the Niagara District Hockey League in the 1930s. The history of the Orioles, like many other African-Canadian hockey histories, such as the Coloured Hockey League of the Maritimes (1890s-1920s) has been overlooked, erased, and ignored. This erasure is indicative of broader sociological issues of race and racism as the historic exclusion and (non)remembering of non-white athletes contributes to our understanding of sport history in the present. By neglecting to include athletes of colour in the mainstream history of sport, sports historians are contributing to the whitewashing of Canadian sport history. This study examines how the Orioles have been remembered and forgotten, considers what voices, perspectives, and identities are marginalized or silenced through hockey histories, and asks how historical discourses shape contemporary constructions of race and sport. In this study, I conduct archival research in the 1937-38 St. Catharines Standard to develop a history of the Orioles as it would have been known in the 1930s. With this history, I work from a historiographical perspective to consider how the Orioles have been racialized and excluded from sports history in the present. I analyse two secondary sources, The Sports History of St. Catharines (McNabb & Meighan, 1969) and St. Catharines: Canada’s Canal City (Jackson & Wilson, 1992), as I identify when and how non-white individuals are included in the histories. Noting the omission of black contributions in these texts is relevant as neglecting to include the role of black citizens is an active form of (non)remembering that perpetuates whiteness through exclusion. This research contributes to our understanding of race and sport in the present and seeks to challenge “the enduring myth of Canada’s benign racial history” (Joseph, et. al., 2012, p. 17) that denies the existence of racism in Canada and seeks to address the gap in historical and sport literature that not only lacks a comprehensive history of the Orioles but has consistently pushed black athletes to the periphery of sports history.
  • Parent Treatment Integrity Across Multiple Components of a Behavioural Intervention

    Nuta, Raluca; Center for Applied Disability Studies
    Children with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often present with challenging behaviours such as aggression, extreme tantrums, non-compliance, or self-injury, which are associated with increased family stress. Behaviour analytic interventions are considered evidence-based practice for decreasing these challenging behaviours; however, most effective, multi-component interventions are implemented in-clinic by trained professionals, and treatment effects do not automatically generalize to the home. The literature is lacking on parent-implemented multi-component interventions in the home environment, and little research has reported on the levels of treatment integrity with which such interventions are implemented. Treatment integrity is crucial to both intervention outcomes, as well as confidence in the validity of the results. As such, it is important to select effective training procedures that may enhance treatment integrity, such as behavioural skills training (BST). BST is an evidence-based training procedure that is widely used in behaviour analysis to train complex skills. The present study sought to determine whether BST can be successfully used to train a parent of a six-year old child with ASD to implement a multi-component intervention in the home environment, while carefully monitoring treatment integrity levels for each treatment component, as well as impact on child behaviour. Results support the use of BST for this purpose, and implications for future research are discussed.
  • Speech Associated with the Use of Speech Generating Devices with Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Comparison of Two Treatment Conditions

    Thompson, Krysten; Center for Applied Disability Studies
    Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems are commonly used by children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and communication impairments. Some AAC systems, such as the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS; Bondy & Frost, 1994), have been associated with increased speech. Although the exact mechanism of change is unknown, the creators of PECS (Bondy & Frost, 2004) suggest the use of a time delay when “reading” the sentence strip may be associated with increases in speech. The current study evaluated the effects on speech of two approaches to communication training using the PECS IV+® App as a speech generating device (SGD): (a) SGD speech output without a time delay, and (b) SGD speech output with a 3-second time delay. An adapted alternating treatment design (AATD) across three participants with ASD was used. Results suggest that the influence of the two teaching strategies on speech was different for each participant. For one participant, time delay prompting may have been beneficial in increasing the complexity or length of utterance of her speech. For a second participant, time delay prompting may have been beneficial in increasing vocal speech in the form of word approximations. For the remaining participant, there appeared to be no visible benefit for speech for either teaching strategy (with or without time delay prompting). Implications for selecting and training SGDs are discussed.
  • Deaf Accessibility in a Three-Day Instructional Skills Workshop: An Explorative Study

    Hardy, Monte (Montgomery) Brett; Center for Applied Disability Studies
    This study focused on the learning experience of a culturally Deaf person in a workshop milieu where training is short and intensive. The researcher is a culturally Deaf person who signs fluently and was raised in a Deaf family. The research examined and evaluated the Instructional Skills Workshop through a CDS orientation to identify possible barriers and sites of potential accommodation for Deaf learners, specifically American Sign Language instructors. The researcher participated in a three-day Instructional Skills Workshop and maintained a journal of his experiences. The research journal and the workshop manuals constituted the data sets. Data analysis involved a) selecting salient episodes from the researcher’ journal and applying Galloway et al’s Ethic of Accommodation to the episodes and b) applying a SWOT analysis to the overall experience including the manuals. Findings indicate that well-meaning people who assisted in accommodations soon became focused on the ISW process, and that the ISW 3-day structure format, the intensity of the schedule and quick exposure to the foundational premises may not fit a Deaf approach to this short, intensive professional development. Further study should be conducted in a pilot of a Deaf-friendly ISW using the recommendation of a 4-day format.
  • Evaluation of Behavioural Skills Training with Volunteers Teaching Motor Skills to Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

    Davis, Sarah; Center for Applied Disability Studies
    Reaching early motor milestones is essential for positive growth and development. Individuals with developmental disabilities may fail to reach these milestones due to gross and fine motor impairments. However, very few physical education programs address motor development issues that may be a concern for individuals with developmental disabilities. The Special Needs Activity Program at Brock University capitalizes on university student volunteers to support individuals with developmental disabilities in developing motor skills. Evaluating various methods to train these volunteers may positively impact training outcomes, and save valuable time and resources. This research employed a mixed methods evaluation to evaluate volunteer training through: (1) a component analysis of behavioural skills training for teaching volunteers how to also use this methodology to support individuals with developmental disabilities in a movement program; and (2) a thematic analysis of the volunteers’ experiences and approaches to teaching this population. The component analysis results were variable across participants; however, following all training phases, all volunteers met a predetermined performance criterion. Through a qualitative analysis five themes in the volunteers’ approach to teaching individuals with developmental disabilities were identified: individualization, respect, collaboration, flexibility, and commitment. Strengths and limitations of this evaluation are discussed and recommendations for future research are provided.
  • Displacement of One Stimulus Class Over Another Stimulus Class: A Systematic Replication

    Carter, Adam; Center for Applied Disability Studies
    Previous researchers have found that individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities tend to prefer edible over leisure stimuli and that leisure stimuli generally function as less effective reinforcers than edible stimuli, regardless of the preference patterns observed during a combined-class multiple-stimulus without replacement (MSWO) assessment. However, researchers have often arbitrarily selected items to include in these preference assessments and have not investigated this phenomenon with typically developing children. In Study 1, we evaluated the preference for leisure and edible stimuli in a combined-class MSWO assessment with 15 typically developing children. Five of 15 participants preferred edible stimuli over leisure stimuli, 3 of 15 participants preferred leisure stimuli over edible stimuli, and the remaining seven of 15 participants did not prefer one stimulus class over another. In Study 2, we compared the reinforcer potency of displaced stimuli and the stimuli that displaced them with 7 of 8 participants who showed displacement of one stimulus class over the other. Four of 7 participants allocated more responding to the free-operant task associated with the top-ranked stimulus identified in the combined-class MSWO, while 3 of 7 participants showed no differences in responding to the free-operant task regardless of ranking of the reinforcer delivered.

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