Home Therapy and Autism 2
One of the most common developmental disabilities affects two out of every ten thousand children and appears before the age of three (Encarta, 2000). The disorder is autism. It is a disorder that severely impairs development of a persons ability to communicate, interact with other people, and maintain normal contact with the outside world. Autism is often referred to as a spectrum disorder, a disorder in which symptoms can occur in any combination and with varying degrees of severity (Encarta, 2000).
Symptoms of autism usually begin during infancy.
They may stiffen or go limp when picked up by parents rather than clinging up to them. Autistic infants often show little or no interest in other people and lack typical social behaviors. Another affect of autism is difficulty with language. Some never learn to speak or develop very limited speech. Over the past thirty years major advances have been made in the education and treatment of autistic individuals. While it is important for patients to receive outside therapy it is also critical that the families get involved and continue the therapy at home.
In this paper we will look at not only at the types of home therapy programs, but also the effectiveness of these programs on the mental and physical limitations that autism puts on a child compared to outside therapies.
Children with autism need both physical and behavioral treatment programs. Not much research has been done on what parents can do to improve the limitations that autism cause and the research done was mainly on behavioral treatment, so that is what the focus will be on. This paper will focus
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on the social communication, emotional regulation, and IQ that a home based behavioral therapy program can improve.
It is well documented that positive long-term outcomes for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are strongly correlated with the achievement of communicative competence (Sheinkopf and Siegel, 1998). Two studies tried to focus on this aspect of autism.
A controlled trail conducted in the United Kingdom on parent training intervention by Drew et al. focused specifically on improving the communication of pre-school children with autism, especially non-verbal social communicative skills.
This study used the clinical interviews and the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R) to assess social interaction, non-verbal social communication abilities. Twenty four children entered the study and were entered either into the parent training group or a local service group. The parent training group used joint attention behavior, mirror games, and behavioral management strategies. The most important aspect of this study was that the parents were acting as the everyday therapists ( Drew, 2002).
The local therapy received, speech and language therapy as well as occupational and physio therapy. After implementation of the program the children were the reassessed twelve months later.
Another study that attempted to show the benefits of parental intervention on communicative skills compared to those of a control group using the Psychoeducational Profile-Revised (PEP-R), which is a developmental test
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designated for assessing both the typical strengths and the characteristic weaknesses of children with autism (Ozonoff and Cathcart, 1998). In this study the parents imitated the therapies that the children were receiving outside the home and then performed them at home. Eventually, outside therapies were gradually reduced and, by the last two weeks of a ten week study, the work at home became the primary place of therapy. The therapies used focused on tasks that are visual in nature and rely more on eye-hand integration( Oznoff and Cathcart, 1998).
Although the two studies have different methods of seeing the effects of a home based program compared to those in a clinical setting, they found very similar results. Drew et al. found that after the completion of the study that the children in the home based treatment program had greater increases in non-verbal language then those in the control group. At the initial assessment all the children, both in the parent and control groups, were considered non verbal, but by the end had dramatic increases in their verbal abilities. After the study the number of children considered nonverbal, less than five words, had been cut in half for the parent .