Every student has a method that allows them to learn effectively, and it’s up to the teachers to appeal to all forms of learning. Teaching students with autism poses additional issues because they struggle to stay focused. A new type of therapy will allow students with autism to take control of how they learn through shared focus behavioral therapy.
Dr. Connie Kasari, a psychologist of the University of California, Los Angeles, created an autism intervention titled JASPER that focuses on joint attention with children with ASD by taking part in play routines with the students. JASPER stands for “Joint Attention, Symbolic Play, Engagement, and Regulation.” The study was funded by Autism Speaks.
JASPER surrounds the idea of following the child’s lead, as opposed to the other way around. It also encourages consistent interaction instead of simple responses.
The study consisted of an eight-week long intervention for 12 half-day preschool classes, as opposed to the one-on-one behavioral therapy sessions they focused on before. Each class had eight children, one special education teacher, and a teaching assistant. Every day of the intervention, the teachers and assistants incorporated JASPER methods in a 15-minute student play time.
“This study moves JASPER from a one-on-one therapy model to classroom settings using small groups of children and focusing on engagement between children, adults, and peers,” Kasari said. “This highlights the promise of interventions such as JASPER that can easily be modified to fit the existing classroom structure.”
As six of the classes participated in the intervention at a time, the other six were waitlisted, the researchers compared the students’ progress to the students in the waitlisted classes.
The preschoolers that participated in the “intervention groups” showed an increase in shared attention with others. They also showed an improvement of initiated communication with their peers using gestures and verbal language. The students also exhibited more extensive communication to the teachers.
For more information, check out the source for this blog post, Psych Central.