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Title: An exploration of individual patterns of development of six pre-school children who have recently received a diagnosis of autism and the response of their parents to differing experiences of early support and intervention
Author: McCauley, Louise B.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2717 3817
Awarding Body: Institute of Education, University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2010
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This study explores the individual patterns of development in aspects of cognitive functioning, communication and language skills, social interaction and adaptive behaviour of six pre-school children following a diagnosis of autism. The perceptions of the parents were gained in order to explore their experiences of the impacts of a diagnosis of autism on their families. Additionally, the experiences of three of the children's parents who took part in the EarlyBird Programme and their perceptions of its effects on the child and family were explored as part of the study. These views were compared to two of the three children's parents who did not take part in the EarlyBird Programme. The study adopted a multiple case study design within a mixed methodology framework. The research methods incorporated semi-structured interviews with five of the six parents (one parent did not give consent to be interviewed), three standardised assessment questionnaires (Vineland Adaptive Behaviour Scales-2, The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire and The Gilliam Autism Rating Scales-2) of all six children and psychometric assessments (The British Ability Scales-II) of five of the six children (one child refused to cooperate with the researcher) as well as informal observations of the children's behaviour. Data were gathered at two time points, approximately six months apart. Five of the six children in the study showed greater improvement than expected in some aspects of their development over the time period of the study. However, the significant individual and family differences and the limited sample size means that developments in the children cannot be attributed to any one factor. Participation in the EarlyBird Programme indicated reduced levels of maternal stress in the EarlyBird group of parents, although this reduction was reported verbally and was not objectively measured. The positive impact of support, both from other parents and professionals within the EarlyBird Programme, as well as increased support from fathers, as encouraged by the programme, was a major theme which emerged from the interviews with parents. It could be suggested that providing informal support to this population of parents in the period immediately following diagnosis, as an alternative to a formal programme, might yield similar results.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available