Does Father Involvement Influence the Affect, Language Acquisition, Social Engagement and Behavior in Young Autistic Children? an Early Intervention Study

By Louis, Preeti Tabitha; Kumar, Navin | The Journal of Special Education and Rehabilitation, January 1, 2015 | Go to article overview

Does Father Involvement Influence the Affect, Language Acquisition, Social Engagement and Behavior in Young Autistic Children? an Early Intervention Study


Louis, Preeti Tabitha, Kumar, Navin, The Journal of Special Education and Rehabilitation


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Preeti Tabitha LOUIS1

Navin KUMAR2

1 School of Social Sciences and Languages

2 VIT University, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India

Recived: 21.01.2015

Accepted: 08.03.2015

Original article

Correspondending address:

Preeti TABITHA LOUIS

School of Social Sciences and Languages,

VIT University, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India

Telephone: 09894153244

E-mail: preetilouis@hotmail.com

Abstract

The present study adopts a randomized experimental design to evaluate the impact of a father-mediated therapy to improve the play skills, affect, language, social skills and behavior among 30 clinically diagnosed autistic children at the age of 3-5 years. Standardized inventories such as, The Play Based Observation (PBO), The Griffiths Mental Developmental Scales (GMDS), The Vineland Social Maturity Scale (VSMS) and the Rendel Shorts Questionnaire were administered pre and post intervention. A special program that involved fathers in the caregiving and nurturing processes of these children was designed and implemented for 6 months after which the children were reassessed. Prior to the intervention, deficits in play skills and developmental delays across expressive and receptive language were observed.

Scores on the Vineland Social Maturity Scale and the Rendel Shorts revealed behavioral markers. Post intervention, we noticed significant differences in the play, language acquisition, social engagement and behavior in the treatment group in comparison to the control group. The results suggested that father-mediated therapeutic involvement significantly has proven to positively foster development in young autistic children and this is an important implication for practitioners in developing early intervention programs.

Keywords: father-mediated intervention, disability, assessment, behavior

Introduction

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impairments in social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication (1). Studies have pointed to evidence that autism is a complex disorder and has a strong genetic basis (2). The prevalence of autism has been increasing dramatically since the 1980s. Studies in India, confirm that the prevalence of childhood autism is 38.9 per 10.000 and for Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) to be 116.1 per 10.000 (3). Autistic children tend to restrict their play to a limited selection of objects (4). They prefer proximal senses of touch and taste above visual exploration and can become intensely preoccupied for long periods of time with non-variable visual examination of just one object (5), which impairs further development of play. Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) may experience particular difficulties in symbolic play (6). The lack of this particular type of play might reflect a more general cognitive or social deficit (7).

About a third to a half of individuals with autism does not develop enough natural speech to meet their daily communication needs (8). Autistic children are less likely to make requests or share experiences, and are more likely to simply repeat others' words (echolalia) or reverse pronouns (9). Joint attention seems to be necessary for functional speech (10). Autistic infants show less attention to social stimuli, smile and look at others less often, and respond less to their own name. Autistic individuals display many forms of repetitive or restricted behaviour. The Repetitive Behaviour Scale-Revised (RBS-R) can be used to evaluate such behaviour (11). They could also have compulsive behaviour such as to follow rules, in arranging objects in stacks or lines (12). Unusual eating behaviour occurs in about three-quarters of children with ASD. Selectivity is the most common problem, although eating rituals and food refusal also occur (13). US and Japanese practice is to screen all children for ASD at 18 and 24 months, using autism-specific formal screening tests. …

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