A Trial of a Cognitive Behavioural Intervention for Problems with Affectionate Communication in Children with Asperger Syndrome

Mr Johann Eloff (). A Trial of a Cognitive Behavioural Intervention for Problems with Affectionate Communication in Children with Asperger Syndrome Professional Doctorate, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Mr Johann Eloff
Thesis Title A Trial of a Cognitive Behavioural Intervention for Problems with Affectionate Communication in Children with Asperger Syndrome
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Thesis type Professional Doctorate
Supervisor Dr Kate Sofronoff
Professor Tony Attwood
Dr Jeanie Sheffield
Total pages 141
Abstract/Summary Abstract Children with Asperger syndrome have marked impairments in understanding affection and expressing appropriate levels or types of affection. Affectionate behaviour that comes naturally to typically developing people generally requires a great deal of effort for those with Asperger syndrome. These difficulties could potentially have a negative impact on the child and those around them (e.g., parental distress, poor interpersonal relationships, abuse, and legal issues). The present research was exploratory in nature and aimed to evaluate the efficacy of a cognitive-behavioural intervention, ‘Exploring Feelings: Affection’, which targets difficulties with affectionate communication in children with Asperger syndrome. Two studies, a pilot study and a trial of the intervention, were conducted. The aim of the pilot study was to identify any problems with the programme prior to conducting the trial. The purpose of the trial was to address two research questions. Firstly, what is the nature of the relationship between affectionate communication in Asperger syndrome and: (a) tactile sensitivity, (b) social ability, (c) child anxiety, (d) parenting stress, and (e) parental distress? Secondly, can the cognitive-behavioural intervention produce improvements in children with Asperger syndrome’s understanding and expression of affection? Twenty-one children (aged 7 to 12 years) were included in the trial. The children participated in five 2-hour weekly sessions while parents participated in a larger parent group. The results showed significant correlations between measures of affection and tactile sensitivity, social ability, child anxiety, parenting stress, and parental distress. The findings further indicated that after attending the 5-week programme parents did not report significant changes in their children’s general difficulties with affectionate communication or in the number of affectionate behaviours with which children experienced difficulty. There were, however, significant increases in the overall appropriateness of children’s affectionate behaviour both towards their immediate family and towards people outside their immediate family, but there were no significant improvements in the appropriateness of children’s responses to the affection they received from others. A marked increase was reported in the number of children that were described by parents as engaging in more adequate levels of affectionate behaviour both towards their parents and towards individuals outside their immediate family. Moreover, there was a significant improvement in the children’s understanding regarding the purpose of affection. Parents’ confidence in dealing with difficult affection behaviours did not change significantly over the course of the intervention. All these findings were maintained at 3-month follow-up. The present research produced valuable information and added to the literature on affectionate communication in children with Asperger syndrome. It appears that the ‘Exploring Feelings: Affection’ programme may be a useful intervention for improving affectionate behaviour in some children with Asperger syndrome.
Keyword cognitive behavioural
Asperger Syndrome
Affection

 
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Created: Sun, 14 Mar 2010, 07:56:48 EST by Mr Johann Eloff