Title

Behavioral Inflexibility in ASD: Impact on family occupations

1

Location

Armory Room

Start Time

29-9-2016 2:00 PM

End Time

29-9-2016 3:30 PM

Session Type

Research Paper

Abstract

Title: Behavioral Inflexibility in ASD: Impact on family occupations

Purpose: Four multi-site focus groups have been undertaken as a first step for developing a parent rated measure for behavioral inflexibility (BI) in children with developmental disabilities. The purpose of this research paper is to highlight the findings from these focus groups and the implications of the findings for occupational science and therapy.

Methods: Four focus groups were conducted at three project sites (UNC-Chapel Hill, Ohio State University, and Vanderbilt University) with caregivers of girls and boys with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The participant population was diverse as the individuals with autism ranged from 3-18 years, had varying diagnostic histories, and varying ASD severity. Caregivers were asked to reflect on their children’s inflexible behaviors and how those behaviors impacted their family life. The focus groups were professionally transcribed and two independent coders carried out detailed semantic coding. Data-driven themes were then abstracted from these codes by collating them into broader categories, using Braun & Clarke’s (2006) description of thematic analysis.

Results: Children with ASD display limited interests and many inflexible behaviors. These behaviors restrict the opportunities for children and families to engage in meaningful occupations. However, many caregivers identified a positive impact on family life as a by-product of these inflexible behaviors. Three basic themes and several sub-themes reflected the impact of BI on overall family functioning. These included, (1) restricted child and family occupations, such as poor social relationships, inability to participate in sports, restricted community outings, etc.; (2) negative impact on child and family, such as poor academic outcomes, parent/sibling stress, increased child anxiety, etc.; and (3) positive impact on family, such as increased acceptance and tolerance, family flexibility to adapt to child’s inflexibility, structure and predictability leading to smooth family functioning, etc.

Implications: Although BI leads to many challenges for families to engage in meaningful occupations, researchers and clinicians must take into account families’ resilience and willingness to derive positive meanings from such inflexible situations. The findings suggest that families adapt to their children’s inflexible behavior to form new occupational patterns to maintain smooth family functioning. Future research should focus on these positive outcomes for families and innovative ways of using these occupational patterns for therapeutic gains.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How do families navigate change in their daily lives?
  2. Does an attempt to conform children to societal norms undermine their diverse viewpoints?
  3. What are some future directions for research and practice?

References

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative research in psychology, 3(2), 77-101.

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Sep 29th, 2:00 PM Sep 29th, 3:30 PM

Behavioral Inflexibility in ASD: Impact on family occupations

Armory Room

Title: Behavioral Inflexibility in ASD: Impact on family occupations

Purpose: Four multi-site focus groups have been undertaken as a first step for developing a parent rated measure for behavioral inflexibility (BI) in children with developmental disabilities. The purpose of this research paper is to highlight the findings from these focus groups and the implications of the findings for occupational science and therapy.

Methods: Four focus groups were conducted at three project sites (UNC-Chapel Hill, Ohio State University, and Vanderbilt University) with caregivers of girls and boys with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The participant population was diverse as the individuals with autism ranged from 3-18 years, had varying diagnostic histories, and varying ASD severity. Caregivers were asked to reflect on their children’s inflexible behaviors and how those behaviors impacted their family life. The focus groups were professionally transcribed and two independent coders carried out detailed semantic coding. Data-driven themes were then abstracted from these codes by collating them into broader categories, using Braun & Clarke’s (2006) description of thematic analysis.

Results: Children with ASD display limited interests and many inflexible behaviors. These behaviors restrict the opportunities for children and families to engage in meaningful occupations. However, many caregivers identified a positive impact on family life as a by-product of these inflexible behaviors. Three basic themes and several sub-themes reflected the impact of BI on overall family functioning. These included, (1) restricted child and family occupations, such as poor social relationships, inability to participate in sports, restricted community outings, etc.; (2) negative impact on child and family, such as poor academic outcomes, parent/sibling stress, increased child anxiety, etc.; and (3) positive impact on family, such as increased acceptance and tolerance, family flexibility to adapt to child’s inflexibility, structure and predictability leading to smooth family functioning, etc.

Implications: Although BI leads to many challenges for families to engage in meaningful occupations, researchers and clinicians must take into account families’ resilience and willingness to derive positive meanings from such inflexible situations. The findings suggest that families adapt to their children’s inflexible behavior to form new occupational patterns to maintain smooth family functioning. Future research should focus on these positive outcomes for families and innovative ways of using these occupational patterns for therapeutic gains.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How do families navigate change in their daily lives?
  2. Does an attempt to conform children to societal norms undermine their diverse viewpoints?
  3. What are some future directions for research and practice?