Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is one of the developmental disabilities that can cause various behavioral, social, and communication problems. Persons with the condition should be supported and empowered in order to lead quality lives. Statistics indicate that about one in every 68 children has ASD (Tamanaha, Chiari, & Perissinoto, 2015). Ho, Stephenson, and Carter (2014) also observed that the condition was common in all socioeconomic and racial groups. However, boys tend to be 4.5 times more likely to develop this developmental condition. In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that 1 in 6 children in America had a specific kind of development disability.
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The common conditions recorded in the country include autism, language impairment, and cerebral palsy. In terms of demographics, ASD affects one person in every 100 in the United States. However, whites and African Americans record 1.6 and 1.3 percent prevalence rates respectively (Ranjan, Pradhan, & Wong, 2014). Developmental disabilities such as ASD are known to cause a number of problems whenever they are left untreated. For example, many people with the condition will have difficulty in interacting, socializing, and communicating with others (Ranjan et al., 2014). Some might become disinterested in a number of activities and fail to achieve their potential in life. People with the condition also find it hard to function at work or at school. Their critical areas of life tend to be affected. These facts explain why adequate treatment models and services can improve patients’ symptoms and make it easier for them to function optimally.
First Home Care is one of the agencies in Portsmouth, Virginia, that provide support services to persons with a wide range of disabilities. The proposed study seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of the programs implemented by the institution’s Day Support Services to meet the needs of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). According to the department’s mission, every activity is usually aimed at providing personalized and group support to different individuals depending on their demands. Beneficiaries are motivated and equipped with adequate skills in communication, peer relations, community safety, and socialization (Ho et al., 2014). The ultimate objective is to ensure that every person develops superior social, communal, and interpersonal competencies. The purpose of this PE, therefore, is to evaluate and analyze the efficiency of the programs implemented by the Day Support Services.
People with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) face numerous challenges whenever associating with others or completing various activities (Tamanaha et al., 2015). Due to such obstacles, ASD patients must be provided with timely and adequate support in order to achieve their goals. Powerful intervention models should be used to offer extensive support and guide more patients to function optimally in the society, in school, and at work. At First Home Care, a Day Support Program has been implemented to help more people with ASF to acquire adequate public survival skills and competencies such as sensory processing and spatial awareness. Similar programs have been implemented in other nursing organizations in an attempt to meet the needs of many patients and support their life goals (Ranjan et al., 2014). Unfortunately, it is not known if most of the models associated with such programs such as building and creating, obstacle courses, sensory scheduling, and sensory exposure empower beneficiaries to deal with anxiety and develop adequate skills.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of the Day Support Program implemented at First Home Care. The analysis will reveal if most of the activities undertaken to support the needs of different beneficiaries at the facility are sustainable and productive (Ho et al., 2014). This understanding will guide different counselors and behavioral therapists in the institution (and elsewhere) to update their models in an attempt to empower more patients with ASD.
Target Behavior/Focus and Intervention
The targeted behavior or intervention is the direct sensory exposure (DSE). D’Amico, Lalonde, and Snow (2015) indicate that DSE is a powerful model embraced to create the best environment whereby patients can use their senses efficiently. The anticipated outcome is that patients should deal with anxiety, develop appropriate skills, and engage in communal activities.
Autism spectrum disorder affects patients differently depending on the kind of support available to them. Wetherston et al. (2017) acknowledge that the use of personalized approaches and interventions can deliver meaningful outcomes depending on the symptoms exhibited by a given patient. Multidisciplinary teams have also been observed to support the needs of many children with ASD. Family members and guardians are usually encouraged to collaborate with their children’s pediatricians to design the best models. Concerned parents should be keen to get adequate information in order to determine if their children have this condition or not.
Early treatment and exposure to evidence-based interventions is something that has the potential to guide more patients and make it easier for them to acquire new competencies. Since ASD is a complex condition characterized by a wide range of symptoms, experts suggest that different treatment models should be considered depending on the symptoms exhibited by a given individual (D’Amico et al., 2015). Canitano and Bozzi (2015) believe that patients, parents, and clinicians must work closely to develop the most appropriate treatment plan or intervention. This is the case because there are numerous programs, therapies, and resources that can be used to meet the changing needs of many individuals with ASD. Canitano and Bozzi (2015) go further to suggest that some medications can be used to minimize symptoms such as hyperactivity, depression, irritability, and aggression.
Several programs have been suggested and implemented in different settings to support more people with ASD. For instance, powerful interventions have been considered to equip ASD patients with skills such as community safety, medication education, socialization, self-management, communication, and peer relations (Canitano & Bozzi, 2015). Beneficiaries of such services tend to have increased chances of exhibiting adequate social, communal, and interpersonal competencies. Ho et al. (2014) believe that such approaches can make it easier for more patients to pursue their objectives.
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a powerful intervention that entails the use of different approaches to meet the needs of individuals with autism. Therapists can use the model to educate and guide patients to acquire new behaviors and pursue their goals. In order to record positive results, Canitano and Bozzi (2015) assert that different stakeholders such as trained personnel, parents, behavioral therapists, and patients should be involved throughout the process. These interventions can be personalized depending on the expectations and needs of the patient. The success of every intervention depends on a number of factors such as the level of cooperation, provision of adequate resources, and support.
Tamanaha et al. (2015) acknowledge that every child or adult with ASD will exhibit specific signs and symptoms. This understanding explains why the application of generalized interventions might not deliver desirable goals. This gap makes it impossible for behavioral interventionists to meet the diverse needs of many patients (D’Amico et al., 2015). This gap, therefore, explains why various activities, models, and therapies used to support patients with ASD should be examined in order to understand what works and what does not. This issue requires a powerful research study to come up with resource information that can be used to implement superior programs, interventions, and therapies to empower more patients depending on their signs.
Research Questions, Hypotheses, and Variables
The targeted research questions for the study are presented below:
- Do building and creating activities, obstacle courses, direct sensory exposure (DSE), and sensory activity scheduling (SAS) help address the anxiety levels in patients with autism?
- Do behavioral interventions help ASD patients develop social skills and engage in various communal activities?
The hypothesis for this study is:
Different behavioral interventions help ASD patients to deal with anxiety, develop appropriate social skills, and engage in communal activities.
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The targeted independent variables include the signs and behavioral challenges associated with ASD. The study will focus on the nature of different interventions and programs in order to understand how they can support the needs of different beneficiaries. That being the case, the interventions and therapies used at First Home Care will be the dependent variables for the study.
The proposed study is aimed at analyzing the challenges encountered by patients with ASD and the effectiveness of various programs aimed at meeting their needs. The study will focus on the initiatives undertaken at First Home Care. The findings will offer evidence-based insights that have the potential to transform the manner in which ASD patients are empowered to lead quality lifestyles.
Canitano, R., & Bozzi, Y. (2015). New treatment perspectives in autism spectrum disorders. Frontiers in Pediatrics, 3(22), 1-2.
D’Amico, M., Lalonde, C., & Snow, S. (2015). Evaluating the efficacy of drama therapy in teaching social skills to children with autism spectrum disorders. Drama Therapy Review, 1(1), 21-39. Web.
Ho, B. P., Stephenson, J., & Carter, M. (2014). Cognitive-behavioral approach for children with autism spectrum disorders: A meta-analysis. Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 1(1), 18-33. Web.
Ranjan, R., Pradhan, K. R., & Wong, J. (2014). Effect of transdisciplinary approach in group therapy to develop social skills for children with autism spectrum disorder. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 4(8), 1536-1542. Web.
Tamanaha, A. C., Chiari, B. M., & Perissinoto, J. (2015). The efficacy of the speech and language therapy in autism spectrum disorder. Revista CEFAC, 17(2), 552-558.
Wetherston, V., Gangat, S., Shange, N., Wheeler, K., Karrim, S. B., & Pahl, J. (2017). The views and knowledge of parents of children with autism spectrum disorder on a range of treatments. South African Journal of Child Health, 11(3), 117-121.