IWGA's Review of Research | January 27, 2017
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OCALI is pleased to provide a monthly update on current research and study outcomes from an array of professional publications.

If you have any questions regarding this information, please contact:

Melissa H. Bacon, OCALI Program Director – Policy and Interagency Collaboration
470 E. Glenmont Ave. | Columbus, OH 43214 | (614) 578-6630 (mobile)

Angell, A. M., Frank, G., & Solomon, O. (2016). Latino families’ experiences with autism services: Disparities, capabilities, and occupational justice. OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health, 36(4), 195-203.

Six Latino families in California who had publicly funded applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy for their child with ASD were interviewed about their experiences with ABA.
Three of the families opted out of ABA. Two families insisted on modifications of ABA and one family accepted ABA as offered.
The researchers reported that ABA service use was not embraced by families because ABA providers failed to integrate the services into family life.
Some of the issues identified by the families, included:

  • Needing a break from having people in the house
  • Child’s emotional stress (i.e. crying, protesting) when ABA was used (2 parents). For a third parent, the positive outcomes outweighed the child’s emotional distress
  • The required parental participation was “too much”
  • No improvements outside of the ABA sessions
  • Disrupted the family, including children without disabilities
  • Inappropriate use of ABA with children

Azad, G., Locke, J., Kasari, C., & Mandell, D. S. (2017). Race, disability, and grade: Social relationships in children with autism spectrum disorders. Autism, 21(1), 92-99.

Children with ASD – who were African American, Latino, Asian, or white in grades K-2 or 3-5 – were compared to same-age typically developing peers regarding friendships and social networks.

Children with ASD were less integrated than their peers into social networks and this worsened with age. This worsening was exacerbated by race with Latino children experiencing the greatest declines in friendships and the greatest social isolation. Friendships and social networks decreased for all races from grades K-2 to 3-5 except for the African American group who had slightly more social networks in 3rd through 5th grade than they did during kindergarten and 2nd grade.

McConnell, A. E., Martin, J. E., & Hennessey, M. N. (2015). Indicators of postsecondary employment and education for youth with disabilities in relation to GPA and general education. Remedial and Special Education, 36(6), 327-336.

1,219 individuals (650 students with disabilities, 497 family members, and 72 special educators) from 49 school districts across nine states participated in the study. The study used the Transition Assessment Goal Generator (TAGG; Martin et al., 2015) which measures student non-academic skills and behaviors associated with post-high school education employment: strengths and limitations, persistence, interacting with others, goal setting attainment, employment, involvement in IEP, and support community.
TAGG elements were compared to grade point average (GPA) in English, math, science and social studies and overall GPA and time spent in general education. No meaningful relationship between the TAGG elements, GPA, and inclusion existed.
GPA and time in general education does not indicate that students with disabilities have the skills to succeed in post-secondary education or employment after high school.

Nicholas, D. B., Hodgetts, S., Zwaigenbaum, L., Smith, L. E., Shattuck, P., Parr, J. R., ... & Stothers, M. E. (2016). Research needs and priorities for transition and employment in autism: Considerations reflected in a “Special Interest Group” at the International Meeting for Autism Research. Autism Research.

A 120-member special interest group (62% from the USA) at the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) were asked to identify salient issues regarding transition and employment in autism. The special interest group included individuals with ASD, families, physicians, researchers, and educational professionals.
Three themes emerged:
  • Research for program and policy development. More research is needed because little exists at the adult level; datasets should be shared; common metrics should be used to guide measurement; a significant lag and gap exists between research and policy implementation.
  • Build employer engagement and capacity. Employers need to be proactively engaged; service providers could serve as brokers who liaise between employers and adults with ASD seeking employment. Emphasis was placed on supporting individuals with ASD with average to above average IQs because they are largely undetected and, if detected, are not supported; use of peer support networks in high schools build autism awareness among managers and supervisors; vocational job banks to match jobs to individuals; sustainable supports that do not end during the early work tenure.
  • Increase support for families of adults with ASD. Research on family experience and support needs at key lifespan points, including adulthood for their children with ASD; transition support is needed earlier and more holistically than is required; collaborative planning is needed for young people, parents, teachers, and other key stakeholders; there is a need to shift support from parents to community as youth move toward young adulthood; professionals need to provide better family balance support; the mental needs of families should be more fully considered.

Aiello, R., Ruble, L., & Esler, A. (2017). National study of school psychologists use of evidence-based assessment in autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 33, 67-88.

402 psychologists from 43 states participated in this study about evidence-based assessment practices.
Evidence-based assessment of those with ASD include: (a) use of psychometrically sound assessment measures; (b) using a developmental perspective that characterizes abilities over the lifespan; (c) assessment in core areas of need; and (d) the use of information from multiple sources.
Less than 25% of school psychologists used evidence-based assessment practices.
Use of evidence-based assessment practices was predicted by (a) experience with 3-to-5 year olds; (b) geographic location (those in southern and western states knew more about evidence-based assessment); and (c) experience and training in ASD. A high level of knowledge in ASD was not related to use of evidence. 

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