A new research project has been created to promote communication, social engagement, and interaction among Autistic children. “Imagining Autism”, the project implemented by the University of Kent, was put together to encourage children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) to better connect with the world around them.
The project designed various environments for the children to experience, from ‘outer space’, to ‘under the sea’. The different settings were each designed to enable the children to engage in a new environment, and to respond to various stimuli, such as ranges of light, sound, and physical actions from trained performers.
Research from the project discovered significant changes in the behavior of many of the children, including in areas where they previously had their strongest deficits. The severity of certain symptoms, including recognition and interaction, appeared to decrease significantly, according to both the research staff, and sets of parents. Several families reported that the behavior of their child improved once they were back at home, as well. Along with the feedback of those personally close to each child, the study also included formal psychological research tools, such as the Autism Diagnostic Observation Scale.
Principal Investigator, Professor Nicola Shaughnessy, released a statement, saying: “The methods we used in the research have been recognized as having potential for development in the diagnosis of autism, revealing areas of ability, as well as difficulty. The work has also offered insights into the imagination of children with autism and the importance of play-based approaches which can often be overlooked post-diagnosis.”
The methods used in the research project are currently being developed into training programs for families, teachers, care workers, and health professionals.
The ICare4Autism International Conference will be discussing recent research findings, as well as educational plans and new methods of Autism treatment, in NYC on June 30th. Speakers include Dr. Stephen Shore, Asst. Professor of Special Education at Adelphi University. Much like the “Imagining Autism” research project, Dr. Shore aims to improve interaction and engagement from children with ASD with the stimulus of sound, through musical therapy. To hear Dr. Shore speak at the ICare4Autism Conference, select tickets here.