Tuesday, December 16, 2008

N. Ireland support program for children with autism to be used across Europe

From a University of Ulster press release:

An innovative support package to help parents of children with autism, which was pioneered in Northern Ireland, is to be rolled out across Europe.

Researchers at the University of Ulster in partnership with local charity Parents’ Education as Autism Therapists (PEAT), developed a multimedia training and support DVD for parents and health professionals which has been available in the UK since 2007.

The support package, entitled, Simple Steps, includes a DVD and hard copy support material. The DVD uses footage of PEAT parents and their children to educate other parents on all aspects of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Many parents using Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) programmes recorded teaching sessions with their children to create the resource.

An international team of researchers, led by Dr Mickey Keenan from the School of Psychology at Ulster, will now develop and translate the multi-media package into three languages including German, Spanish and Norweigan, so the project can be rolled out across Europe.

“There has been a significant increase in the prevalence rates of Autism Spectrum Disorder worldwide and some studies have found that as many as 12 in every 1,000 children in Europe may have the disorder,” says Dr Keenan.

"Applied Behavioural Analysis has consistently emerged as the most appropriate and effective treatment to help children with autism however, the number of trained professional behaviour analysts is very low throughout Europe. One of the aims of this project is to address this need for suitably qualified professionals who can design, implement, and monitor programs that address individual needs of children with autism.”

The project is also aimed at educating parents of children diagnosed with autism so that they can deliver home-based Applied Behavioural Analysis programmes.

"Parents can be empowered to help maximise the potential benefits of the treatments,” explains Dr Keenan. "This complete and comprehensive support package answers the questions that parents need answered. The DVD has a modular design which means that parents who are new to the subject and those who are much more experience will be able to navigate their way easily and quickly to the resources they require.

"The support pack contains information about the nature of Autism Spectrum Disorder and how it is diagnosed. Parental anecdotes will explain how autism affects the child and family and explain how Applied Behaviour Analysis can make a difference.

"The main core of the support package is comprehensive training in the science of ABA using video footage of real children with voice over explaining the science. This is accompanied by detailed text explaining and reinforcing the concepts.”

Dr Keenan and PEAT will work with a team of international experts from the University of Applied Sciences, Germany, Akershus University College, Norway, the University of Oviedo, Spain, and QUB over the next two years to develop and translate the project. The project is funded through a Leonardo Da Vinci European grant.

For further information on the Simple Steps project, contact PEAT at: http://www.peatni.org/