Friday, November 30, 2007

Response Patterns

Here are more blocks in the foundation of self regulation. Today I am reviewing and commenting on 3 interesting pieces of research that describe response patterns in children with autism and "typical" children. The articles cover 3 different areas: sensory input, affect and joint attention (a social skill).

Article 1: Response to Tactile & Vestibular Patterns
Bar-Shalita, T., Goldstand, S., Hahn-Markowitz, J., & Parush, S. (2005). Typical children’s responsivity patterns of the tactile and vestibular systems. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 59, 148-156.

The article describes typical 3-4 year old responses to tactile and vestibular input. There was no noted differences in gender response. There was no significant difference in responses from age 3 to age 4. Children in this study showed no sensory modulation issues. That is, they were not seekers of this input and did not appear to be hypo-reactive and/or hyper-reactive in response to the input.

The study was performed in Israel, and so is valid for that population, but in fact supports data collected from U.S. researchers including Dunn, Ayers, Blanche and others.

The article is noteworthy for the excellent review of past and current literature in the areas of sensory modulation, tactile defensiveness, and hypo- and hyper-reactivity to movement.

Article 2: Response to Mood
Begeer, S, Meerum, T. Rieffe, C., Stegge, H., & Koot, H. M. (2007). Do children with autism acknowledge the influence of mood on behaviour? Autism, 11, 503-521.

"We tested whether children with and without high-functioning autism spectrum disorders (HFASD) differ in their understanding of the influence of mood states on behaviour. A total of 122 children with HFASD or typical development were asked to predict and explain the behaviour of story characters during hypothetical social interactions. HFASD and typically developing children predicted at equal rates that mood states likely result in similar valenced behaviour. `Explicit' descriptions were used to explain predictions more often by children with HFASD than by typically developing children. However, `implicit' and `irrelevant' descriptions elicited fewer mood references among HFASD children. Furthermore, they less often referred to the uncertainty of the influence of mood on behaviour, and less often used mood-related explanations, in particular when they had to rely on implicit information. This may indicate a rote- rather than self-generated understanding of emotions in children with HFASD. "

Article 3: Response to Novel Input on Joint Attention Skills
Gulsrud, A.C., Kasari, C., Freeman, S., & Paparella, T. (2007). Children with autism’s response to novel stimuli while participating in interventions targeting joint attention or symbolic play skills. Autism 11, 535-546

"Thirty-five children diagnosed with autism were randomly assigned to either a joint attention or a symbolic play intervention. During the 5—8 week treatment, three novel probes were administered to determine mastery of joint attention skills. The probes consisted of auditory and visual stimuli, such as a loud spider crawling or a musical ball bouncing. The current study examined affect, gaze, joint attention behaviors, and verbalizations at three different time points of intervention. Results revealed that children randomized to the joint attention group were more likely to acknowledge the probe and engage in shared interactions between intervener and probe upon termination of intervention. Additionally, the joint attention group improved in the proportion of time spent sharing coordinated joint looks between intervener and probe. These results suggest that generalization of joint attention skills to a novel probe did occur for the group targeting joint attention and provides further evidence of the effectiveness of the joint attention intervention."

Other Points Made
The authors conclude that the intervention worked for these reasons:
1. It violated the established routine for the child's session.
2. The focus of the session was already on engagement with other people, and so the child was not required to do something new (beyond engaging).
3. Children in the joint attention group were becoming more adept at shifting their attention and responding with flexibility to the environment, so the surprise intervention was simply an increase in the level of challenge.

Although there was an increase in initiation and duration of joint attention there was no significant change in the child's affect, non-verbal gestures and verbalizations.

The authors note that "sustained engagement in joint attention states has been linked to language development in typical children... may be important for the language development of children with autism."
Here is a working definition for sensory modulation.

My Comments
This is a very important finding that can be applied to SI interventions in that we can add a joint attention component to activities such as a swing or a trampoline, and add a surprise element into the mix. The authors treated for 30 minutes and interjected the random stimulus during the last 2 minutes - timelines that could easily work in a typical OT session.

A question worth asking is "If the children were engaged in an intervention aimed at increasing affect, would there have been a significant change in that area (and not in joint attention)?

1 comment:

Sulis said...

Well written article.