Get real : the development, implementation and evaluation of an intervention for primary aged children with High Functioning Autism

Kemp, Steven Marc (2013) Get real : the development, implementation and evaluation of an intervention for primary aged children with High Functioning Autism. PhD by Publication, Queensland University of Technology.


Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder experience difficulty in communication and in understanding the social world which can have negative consequences for their relationships, in managing emotions, and generally dealing with the challenges of everyday life. This thesis examines the effectiveness of the Active and Reflective components of the Get REAL program through the assessment of the detailed coding of video-recorded observations and longitudinal quantitative analysis. The aim of Get REAL is to increase the social, emotional, and cognitive learning of children with High Functioning Autism (HFA). Get REAL is a group program designed specifically for use in inclusive primary school settings. The Get REAL program was designed in response to the mixed success of generalisation of learning to new contexts of existing social skills programs. The theoretical foundation of Get REAL is based upon pedagogical theory and learning theory to facilitate transfer of learning, combined with experiential, individualised, evaluative and organisational approaches. This thesis is by publication and consists of four refereed journal papers; 1 accepted for publication and 3 that are under review. Paper 1 describes the development and theoretical basis of the Get REAL program and provides detail of the program structure and learning cycle. The focus of Paper 1 reflects the first question of interest in the thesis which is about the extent to which learning derived from participation in the program can be generalised to other contexts. Participants are 16 children with HFA ranging in age from 8-13 years. Results provided support for the generalisability of learning from Get REAL to home and school evidenced by parent and teacher data collected pre and post participation in Get REAL. Following establishment of the generalisation of learning from Get REAL, Papers 2 and 3 focus on the Active and Reflective components of the program in order to examine how individual and group learning takes place. Participants (N = 12) in the program are video-taped during the Active and Reflective Sessions. Using identical coding protocols of video data, improvements in prosocial behaviour and diminishing of inappropriate behaviours were apparent with the exception of perspective taking. Data also revealed that 2 of the participants had atypical trajectories. An in-depth case study analysis was then conducted with these 2 participants in Paper 4. Data included reports from health care and education professionals within the school and externally (e.g., paediatrician) and identified the multi-faceted nature of care needed for children with comorbid diagnoses and extremely challenging family circumstances as a complex task to effect change. Results of this research support the effectiveness of the Get REAL program in promoting pro social behaviours such as improvements in engaging with others and emotional regulation, and in diminishing unwanted behaviours such as conduct problems. Further, the gains made by the participating children were found to be generalisable beyond Get REAL to home and other school settings. The research contained in the thesis adds to current knowledge about how learning can take place for children with HFA. Results show that an experiential learning framework with a focus on social cognition, together with explicit teaching, scaffolded with video feedback, are key ingredients for the generalisation of social learning to broader contexts.

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ID Code: 63615
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD by Publication)
Supervisor: Shakespeare-Finch, Jane, Petriwskyj, Anne, & Thorpe, Karen
Additional Information: The Faculty has granted an embargo of two years for this thesis.
Keywords: High Functioning Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), experiential learning, group social skills, social skills, behaviour
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 21 Oct 2013 23:54
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2017 14:46

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