• Best Practices for Children and Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Resource Guide for Community Partners

      Fast, Maureen
      Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) present a unique challenge, and learning opportunity for professionals. The purpose of this study was to create a comprehensive and accessible handbook to empower those who work with children and youth with ASD in a community setting. The best practices and effective intervention programs for students with ASD were researched and evaluated. Four individuals from various community agencies voluntarily participated in a Needs Assessment Questionnaire and, based on their information, a Handbook on Best Practices for Children with ASD, including a resource section was created. The theoretical framework examined for this project was based on social-cognitive theory, specifically Bandura's (1986) theory of triadic reciprocity and reciprocal determinism. This theory places emphasis on the fact that behaviour must be evaluated in the course of normal development, and that what may be appropriate for an individual at one age or point in time, may not be at another. Once the handbook was complete, an Evaluative Questionnaire was circulated to determine its effectiveness and overall benefits in practice for community partners in the field. The results of this questionnaire contributed to a final copy of the handbook. Implications for future research were considered and the limitations of this study were examined.
    • Perceptions and Strategies for Developing Social Competence in Children With ASD and Down Syndrome

      Nakajima, Sayaka
      This qualitative research project sought to explore discrepancies between research-informed ideal strategies recommended by resource teachers (RTs) and actual strategies used by early childhood educators (ECEs) in a classroom in the Niagara region in Ontario. The exploratory research involved semi-structured individual interviews with 3 RTs and 1 ECE from the Niagara region childcare centres and organizations who participated in semi-structured individual interviews. This study identified strategies recommended by RTs and ECEs to improve social competency in children with ASD and Down syndrome. The finding of this study revealed that although the RTs’ recommended strategies were very similar to research-informed strategies found in the literature, the ECEs’ strategies differed from the ideal strategies. Some of the reasons reported by the ECEs as to why they used different strategies included teacher–child ratio, lack of professional training, and lack of relevant courses taken in college. Although it is essential that children with ASD and children with Down syndrome work on their peerrelationship skills (as it is their major impairment), it is equally important to address joint attention, communication, and emotion recognition skills, and to learn to follow classroom rules and a routine in order for school readiness. Developing these skills in early childhood is closely related to developing peer-relationship skills later on.
    • A Phenomenologically Sensitized Analysis of Images Depicting Stressed Embodiment in an Adolescent Male with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

      Boyd, Chris (2014-12-18)
      Each person with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) comes with unique characteristics (idiosyncratic) that give clues to the world they know (Connolly, 2008). It is through their body that they (a) know the world they are experiencing, (b) make meaning, and (c) express certain behaviours. I used Laban’s Movement Analysis (LMA) to practice an attuned and appreciative approach to describing and understanding the body movement in one severe manifestation of autism in an adolescent male. LMA observes human movement across many disciplines and can be applied in many contexts providing a body honoring discourse for description (Connolly, 2008). The framework examines movement in body, space, quality, and relation. Each theme provides a detailed description of the individual’s movement, thus, giving us a richer understanding of patterns and possible triggers to self-injurious behaviours (SIB). During the summer of August 2013, I participated in Brock University’s annual Autism Camp and worked with a 15 year old male named “Aaron” who manifests with low functioning autism. The purpose of my research project was to code and analyze a series of photos taken to help gain insight into movement patterns associated with stressed embodiment and self-injury in “Aaron”. As I understood more about these embodied expressions, I uncovered valuable information on how to read patterns and discover what triggers these events, thus providing strategies on how to help people do more refined observations and make meaning of the behaviour. Laban’s movement analysis provided a sensitized discourse appropriate to the embodied expressions depicted in the photos.