Evaluating the efficacy of training staff in adult child interaction in a school for children with ASD

M. McAteer, M. Wilkinson

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


    Bogdashina (2005) acknowledges that an important factor in developing the communication skills of pupils with autism is the way adults in the child’s environment themselves communicate. For the last four years I have used my own adaptation of a recognised therapeutic approach, ‘Parent-child interaction training (Kelman & Schneider, 1994) with staff in a school for pupils with autistic spectrum and related communication disorders, calling it ‘adult-child interaction training’. This approach aims to work in partnership with adults to develop their use of a ‘facilitative’ style of interaction rather than a ‘directive’ style of interaction (Mirenda & Donnelan, 1986) and my purpose has been to foster an ‘enabling communication environment’ (Potter & Whittaker, 2001) in the school. Video is used as a tool for self-reflection and my role as a therapist has been to give supportive and realistic feedback, highlighting the adult’s strengths (Cummins & Hulme, 1997:3) with the main purpose being for the adults ‘to leave the room feeling better about themselves’.I have used a case study design (Yin, 2003) to try to gather reliable and valid evidence to support the efficacy of this practice or conversely to show a need to discontinue it. In particular, I am collecting data from a variety of sources and multiple perspectives: historic records, structured observations of videos, a research diary, and interviews of staff receiving the training and I will present my initial findings from this study. As a speech and language therapist from an allied health profession, which is still largely trying to fit its research into a medical model, working in education, I am challenged by this project to satisfy the demands of good social sciences case study design, yet want to be able to present my findings in a way which is acceptable to my own profession. Critical questions addressed: n Adult-child interaction training is an extremely complex behavioural process in which the therapist carefully balances the needs of the adult and child and tries to nurture the interaction between them. How else could I have attempted to measure its efficacy? n In order to try to counteract the effects of my own allegiance to this approach I have used a ‘critical friend’ to independently carry out the analysis of structured observations of videos using a prescribed format. How else could I have reduced the effects of my own bias and perhaps the desire of my subjects to say in interviews what they think I want to hear? n Can this kind of small scale practitioner research be carried out in a way which is robust enough to be taken seriously by ‘hard health’ service models of research (McCartney, 2004)? Learning outcomes: n A shared understanding of what the initial findings of this study might indicate about the efficacy of this approach in my setting n A shared understanding of what I feel I have learned so far about the process of carrying out this type of research n Critical reflection by the group on the consonance or dissonance between health and education models of research
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2008
    EventEnhancing Practice Conference - Veldhoven, Netherlands
    Duration: 8 Oct 200810 Oct 2008


    ConferenceEnhancing Practice Conference


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