LEND Cohort III 2018-2019 Research Abstracts

Levine, M., Silvia, N., & Tarka, T. Confidence Levels of Interdisciplinary Professions in Providing Assessment and Intervention for School-aged Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the prevalence of diagnosed autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has increased 15%, to 1 in 59 children from 1 in 68 children in the past two years. With the increasing rate of diagnosis, there is a subsequent increase in demand for interdisciplinary professionals who are confident and competent in providing assessment and intervention to school-aged children with ASD. Such professionals include school psychologists, audiologists, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists and physical therapists. The purpose of this article is to examine the current literature surrounding confidence levels of these professionals providing treatment and assessment to school-aged children with ASD. A review of graduate curricula across disciplines was also conducted to examine whether courses on disability are available. Findings indicate that there is a lack of confidence across all disciplines that is often associated with a lack of knowledge and experience, which can be attributed to limited training in graduate level courses. Additionally, students are trained as generalists, learning the breadth of the field without a specific focus on any one area, such as children with neurodevelopmental disorders. This leads to gaps in the professional preparedness when serving the unique challenges of children with ASD, potentially contributing to the low confidence levels observed. Future research is needed to examine the factors associated with low confidence levels and how universities can enhance the preparedness of students entering the field.

 

Cyril, K., Figueiredo, M., Petzold, P., & Woodard, E. “Social and Emotional Learning Interventions in the Academic Environment”

 In recent decades, there has been a push for educational programming that provides students with the opportunity to foster growth in developmental and psychological domains. The term social and emotional learning (SEL) was created to describe this area of need. SEL is a framework that addresses the way individuals effectively learn to utilize their attitude and emotions to maintain positive relationships and well-being throughout their life. This literature review focused on SEL development and SEL programs offered in schools. In 1994, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) was formed to establish the highest standards for SEL programming by creating a framework of five core competencies: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills and Responsible Decision-Making. Educational, psychological, and developmental literature has referenced CASEL, indicating that SEL development has strong implications for all students and should be considered a core part of academics.  In 2015, President Obama signed a modification to the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), renaming it the Every Child Succeeds Act (ESSA). This revamping supported the implementation of SEL programs, like School-Wide Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (SWPBIS). Programs have been designed to target specific populations, like those at risk for drug abuse and risky sexual exposure, but have seldom focused on individuals with developmental delays (DD), intellectual disability (ID) or special education students in a High School setting. This review further supports the claim that more inclusive or specialized research and programming is needed to foster development in the special education population.

 

Duff, M., Scarpati, E., Stern, D., & Thompson, L. “Seclusion and Restraints in Schools with Students with Disabilities: A Literature Review”

A literature review was conducted from a multidisciplinary perspective incorporating the disciplines of special educators, school psychologists, nurses, social workers, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, and audiologists. The aim of this review was to assess the range of interventions used to decrease restraint and seclusion in schools for students with disabilities. The findings suggest that through a discipline-specific lens, there are evidence-based practices available within the following disciplines to decrease the use of restraints and seclusion in schools: occupational therapy, nursing, school psychology, social work, counseling, and special education. Disciplines without substantial research on restraint and seclusion are audiology and speech-language-pathology. More notably, the most promising intervention found to decrease the use of seclusion and restraints in schools, specifically with students with disabilities, is School-Wide Positive Behavioral Supports (SWPBS). The research suggests that SWPBIS, a school-wide intervention that requires interdisciplinary effort, consistent expectations, and positive reinforcement for students, is an effective tool to increase positive reinforcement and decrease seclusion and restraints for students with disabilities.

 

Bassilakis, K., Cosker, T., Fignon, A., & Kwolek, H. “Emotion Regulation: Disciplinary Perspective”

 One of the most challenging aspects of parenting a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the behavioral difficulties that are commonly seen in tandem with the disorder. Recent research suggests that difficulties with emotion regulation (ER) may underlie many of these difficulties, and thus that ER may serve as a promising target of intervention. If improving ER skills in individuals with ASD improved individuals’ behavior and social competence, this may also reduce parenting stress and improve overall quality of life for both the individual with ASD and their family. However, difficulties stem from the fact that many different fields are examining ER, yet definitions of what precisely it encompasses vary among the fields. This article examined how different fields, including developmental and clinical psychology education, speech-language pathology, nursing, occupational therapy, and social work, view ER. The review also examined interventions that are starting to be developed to improve these skills. However, difficulties in designing effective interventions arise when definitions of ER vary. This review suggests recommendations for future research, including the necessity of developing a consensus definition of ER that interdisciplinary teams can use when designing and implementing interventions. This may allow for more effective ER interventions, potentially improving quality of life for individuals with ASD.

Achuka, P.,Blake, C., Carrion, N., Clark, C., & Cobb, T. “Effective Intervention Methods for Remediating Stress among Parents of Children with Disabilities”

Effective intervention methods for remediating stress among parents of children with disabilities are important so that human services professionals ensure the best possible service delivery. The methodologies used to explore this topic were various search engines discussed throughout the paper. The results of the literature review were that parental support and education for parents of children with a variety of disabilities are needed to decrease the risk of developing mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety. Parental stress among caregivers of children with disabilities negatively affects their ability to utilize effective parenting skills. The possible implications for our research are aimed towards exploring whether the tools found in the literature review are effective to remediating parental stress.  Future research should be based on empirical knowledge about effective interventions for parents of children with disabilities and their levels of effectiveness.