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The project aimed to make an understanding of the occurrence of autism spectrum disorder in children. The project has identified that ASD is a major problem that significantly impacts children's learning and development that are affected by the condition. The project first involves the formulation of a rationale for the study before conducting a literature review on the topic. The methodologies that would be used are also included in the planning stage, just as the rationale and the review literature. The planning stage of the project also included the aims and objectives of the research and the time frame for the research. The next stage of the research is the development stage, where what is done during the actual study is detailed. Also, what was done is explained in this stage. The critical analysis of the results of the study is also detailed in the development stage. Here, conclusions and recommendations for the project are also made. The evaluation stage is the stage of the project, where the whole project is reflected. The project recommends further research on the topic to fill the gap that still exists in the literature.Evaluation of the Process of the Whole Project
The whole process of evaluating the plan followed the original plan for the project without notable changes. In the scope of the research project, several challenges were met. These included difficulty in meeting the time scales that were set for the project. Also, carrying out the project's planned activities was a challenge due to the limited time that was available and other limitations presented in the scope of the project. Besides, the collaborative group lacked good teamwork skills, which slowed down most of the processes and activities that were undertaken during the study. I faced several difficulties in conducting the project due to pressure, time, and financial limitations. Despite the challenges that were experienced during the project, several activities were also successful. For example, the interviews were successfully conducted, and data extracted as was required for the project's success. The secondary research was also a success as relevant studies were identified, reviewed, and evidence that met the research objectives. Much pressure was felt during the project's conduction; we were able to complete the project within the time frame that was set for the project. Also, the results obtained from the study were reviewed critically, and the evidence obtained effectively met the objectives set for the research project. The aims of the research were also met; thus, the research was undoubtedly a success.Reflection On Own Knowledge and Skills
The HNC units inclusive of care in contemporary society, leadership, health wellbeing and safeguard, lifespan development theoretical approaches, promotion of effective communication, promotion of health, safety and security, the development of practice through reflection and learning were some of the acquired knowledge from the learning of the HNC that was used in a holistic way to carry out the project. The project also enabled the acquisition of new skis and knowledge in the scope of conducting the study. Amongst the skills and knowledge gained from the research project were inclusive of but not limited to, research skills. Besides, the project enabled the acquisition of skills in information technology as databases used for the secondary research approach were electronic, thus requiring a few skills in information technology. Apart from the discussed knowledge and skills acquired. Time management skills were not an exception; the project presented with a lot of pressure due to the project's limited timeline. However, flexibility and adaptability were made possible to complete the project within the limited time allocated for the project. This enabled the acquisition of time management skills. Of importance, secondary research enabled the development of the skill of reading for information. The reviewed papers were quite large; however, the relevant information needed to be identified within the provided timeline. Consequently, reading for information was acquired in the quest to finish the research activity within the limited time. Lastly, knowledge of general personal organization was also gained from the project.Evaluation of Research Methods
The methodological approaches adopted for the project were the ideal and best ones following the project's success. The primary research that was adopted for collecting primary data provided first had information that was crucial to meeting the study's objectives. The primary research methodology allowed obtaining original data that are current and highly specific to the needs and objectives of the project. The secondary research approach that was adopted was highly dependent on already existing data that was derived from the existing literature. The secondary approach's advantage is that it was time conscious and considerate thus was conducted more quickly and at a cheaper cost relative to other research approaches that are more demanding. The primary research used semi-structured interviews that were used in the primary data collection. The kind of interviews adopted for the data collection enabled the preparation of interviewers of questions to assist in guiding the conversation and ensuring that the respondents were kept in line with the topic without diversions. Besides, the interviews allowed open-ended responses from the respondents that gave more in-depth information. Semi-structured interviews enabled and two-way communication between the interviewer and the respondent: the interview provides an opportunity for the interviewer to learn answers to questions and the reasons behind the answers that they were receiving from the respondents. Through the interviews' scope, respondents were able to open up and information even on the most sensitive issues, which enabled the meeting of the objectives of the project. That data collected through the interviews was qualitative and could be compared to both previous and future data. As the secondary approach adopted a systematic review of literature, this delivered a clear and comprehensive overview of the available evidence on the topic of the project. The reviews also enabled identifying research gaps in the current setting that could be researched in the future. In general, the research methodologies chosen for the project were some of the contributors to the project's success as a whole.
Reflection on Communication Skills
The communication skills deployed throughout the project contributed significantly to the success of the project. Besides, interpersonal skills were also a plus to the successful completion of the project. The skills were not only depicted in the verbal utterances but also in written communications. The communication skills were noted in the negotiations with the interviewees, thus the success of the interviews and the project. Also, the skills were noted in the negotiations with the supervisor and during the workshops. Generally, on evaluating the whole project, it can be concluded that everything happened as planned despite the various challenges. The aims and objectives of the project were met, and it can be termed as a success.Developing Stage
The study aimed to understand autism spectrum disorder's occurrence and investigate the impact that ASD has on children's development and learning needs. The objectives of the research study were to understand the causes of the condition, the early signs of ASD, the various clinical manifestations, and the consequences of the condition. Also, at the end of the study, it was expected that the various approaches to learning by ASD children and the role that the sensory activities have on Autism spectrum disorder would be well understood. Besides, the study wanted to expand the awareness that the community and society have on the challenges faced by children with an autism spectrum disorder. Of much importance, the study aimed to develop evidence-based and most appropriate strategies for dealing with Autism spectrum disorder.
The research study adopted both a secondary approach and a primary research approach. Primary research was used to fill in the gaps in information that could not be gathered via secondary research. The goal of this approach was to answer the research objectives that directly pertained to the research project. The primary research was extremely valuable to the project though it took longer than the secondary research. On the other hand, secondary research was used to access the basis of the knowledge on the relevant information that had already been compiled by other researchers in the past.
The secondary resources used in this study included books and articles that were relevant to the research study. A systematic review was done on the paper to obtain information that would be used to meet the research objectives. The review papers were identified from online databases. The databases searched for the relevant literature included MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, Cochrane databases, PubMed, and google scholars. Keywords were used to search for the relevant studies from the databases. The keywords used included Autism spectrum disorder, children, impact, challenges, community, society, sensory roles, and causes. Boolean operators were used to combining the keywords and make the research limited and more focused (Xiao & Watson, 2019). From a combined search from the identified databases, 20 papers were found.
Ten of the papers were removed as they were duplicates. Four more articles were removed from the study as they did not adequately meet the research papers' inclusion criteria. Six papers remained for the study. These were reviewed of their titles, abstracts, and bibliographies, from which two more papers were removed, leaving four papers that were relevant and could be used to achieve the study's objectives. The studies included in the research were those published in English. Besides, only those studies that were dated ten years and earlier were considered for review. The studies that were selected were those that contained most of the keywords used in the study. Also, those dating more than ten years or published in languages other than English were excluded from the study. The papers selected for the study were then systematically reviewed. While systematically reviewing the studies, data were extracted from the included studies. All relevant data from each of the included studies were extracted (Xiao & Watson, 2019). The risk of bias of the included studies was then evaluated. The results were then presented for critical analysis and assessment of the quality of the evidence obtained from the included studies.
The preliminary study was conducted through semi-structured interview questions. The primary research participants included pediatrics specialists, community members, and parents of children suffering from Autism spectrum disorder. Before the primary data collection, the research topic was made clear enough for the participants to understand (Xiao & Watson, 2019). A checklist for the questions to be asked was then developed. Open-ended questions were used for the interview, such as the respondents were to choose their preferred responses (Xiao & Watson, 2019). The responses from the primary data collection were then noted and recorded for analysis to meet the research objectives.
Findings and Critical Analysis
From the systemic review of literature, the causes and early signs of the autism spectrum, the disorder was well understood. Besides, the clinical manifestations and the effects of the condition on children were identified. The role of sensory play on children with Autism spectrum disorder was also identified. The most effective and evidence-strategies for the management of ASD were also noted and detailed. The results from the study areas are noted below.
Causes and Clinical manifestations of ASD in children
According to the study by Rylaarsdam & Guemez (2019), ASD is highly genetically heterogeneous and can be caused by both inheritable and the de novo gene variations. The research noted that hundreds of genes were identified that contribute significantly to the serious deficits presented in ASD patients and are inclusive of deficits in communication, social cognition, and behavior (Rylaarsdam & Guemez, 2019). According to the study, these contribute to not more than 20% of the ASD cases that are reported annually. The study notes that genetic modifiers such as copy number variation, single nucleotide polymorphisms, and epigenetic alterations contribute significantly to modulating the phenotypic spectrum of ASD patients (Rylaarsdam & Guemez, 2019). The study also notes that the noted genetic modifiers alter the brain's convergent signaling pathways, consequently resulting in impaired neural circuitry formation. The study's review noted that increased de novo mutation load in regulatory elements of ASD risk genes in patients (Rylaarsdam & Guemez, 2019). The study also identifies somatic mosaicism, a result of the post-zygotic DNA mutation, as a crucial contributor to neurodevelopmental diseases that autism is an example of (Ramaswami & Geschwind, 2018). Besides, the researchers noted that copy number variations (CNVs) contribute to autism spectrum disorder's susceptibility. The studies also identify environmental causes of ASD. These were inclusive of advanced parental age at the time of conception. Also, prenatal exposure to air pollution or certain disease has been linked to the occurrence of ASD in children (Ramaswami & Geschwind, 2018). Maternal obesity, diabetes and immune system disorders of mothers and extreme prematurity or very low birth rate contribute significantly to the occurrence of ASD in children. Apart from discussing the causes of the condition, the study also highlights the possible signals showing ASD in children. The study first notes social issues as the victims experience social difficulty and problems interacting with others (Ramaswami & Geschwind, 2018). Also, difficulty in communication is a red flag for the condition. Besides, ASD patients have unusual interests and behaviors. The children may have delays in language, social, and learning skills (Ramaswami & Geschwind, 2018)
Challenges faced by children with ASD
Children with ASD have been noted to struggle greatly with focus, attention, transitions, organization, memory, time management, frustrations, and emotional control (Leader et al., 2020). Undoubtedly, these issues impact greatly on the learning needs and interests of ASD children. An example is noted, while trying to solve a problem, a child with ASD might know the facts but fail to come up with a solution. According to the study, this can be explained by the idea that the child might be unable to organize ideas or put information together to formulate a solution (Leader et al., 2020). These children also see things from their perspective. For instance, the study by Leader et al. (2020) notes that children usually have trouble understanding what people have desires and beliefs distinct from theirs. The children lack the social skill of seeing things from other people's perspectives; thus, they find it difficult to understand and get along. This significantly affects their learning and needs.
Following the various challenges in learning faced by ASD, the study has identified several approaches that have been adopted in resolving the same (Leader et al., 2020). These are inclusive of the TEACCH and Lovaas approaches to autism spectrum disorder learning. The TEACCH is an autism training model that uses structured teaching based on the unique learning needs of people with ASD (Leader et al., 2020). The model has strength in visual information processing. On the other hand, the Lovaas approach was identified as a form of applied behavioral analysis used in intervention programs for children who have developmental delays or who have been identified to suffer from Autism spectrum disorder (Leader et al., 2020).
Management and Preventive Strategies for ASD
The reviewed studies and results from the interview of pediatrics specialists identified no treatment in existence to cure ASD. However, data collected from the research study has identified that in existence are several interventions that have been developed and studied for use in children with ASD (DeFilippis & Wagner, 2016). From the study, the interventions reduce the symptoms and improve the cognitive ability and daily living skills while maximizing the child's ability to function and participate in the community. Research has also noted that children with ASD have unique strengths and challenges (DeFilippis & Wagner, 2016). These are evident in their social communication, behavior, cognitive ability. Treatment plans for these conditions are multidisciplinary and involve the mediation of their respective parents in targeting the children's individual needs (DeFilippis & Wagner, 2016).
ASD can also be managed through behavioral intervention strategies. These have been noted to focus on social communication skill development. Occupational and speech therapy has also been noted to work for some children. The study also identified social skills training and medication as a management strategy for ASD patients (DeFilippis & Wagner, 2016). The treatments of the conditions vary based on the child's age, the strengths, differences, and challenges that s/he is experiencing. Sensory activities work for children with autism. The studies have identified tasting games, cornflour slime, and homemade musical instruments to work effectively (DeFilippis & Wagner, 2016). In summary, the kinds of interventions that have been identified for the treatment of ASD in children are inclusive of behavior analysis, training in social skills, occupational therapy, physical therapy, sensory integration therapy, and the use of assistive technology (DeFilippis & Wagner, 2016).
The studies that were identified for the project had various similarities as they discussed the same causes and problems associated with ASD in children. From what has been learned in the HNC units, the findings of the studies that have been reviewed can be termed as true and evidence based if not for negligible diversities.
The study's original plan was to conduct primary research through the use of semi-structured interviews and secondary research through a systematic review of the literature. During the data collection, four studies were identified and systematically reviewed to extract data used to meet the research study's objectives. The data collected from the primary research were also analyzed and used to meet the project's preset objectives. The various factors that contribute to the occurrence of autism spectrum disorder in children were identified, and the clinical implications of the conditions were also detailed. The study also identified challenges that the children face and the best intervention that can be used in managing the condition.
Further research to be conducted to better understand the causes of ASD in children
Adoption of the most appropriate therapies and approaches to learning that is useful to children with ASD.
Further research to be conducted in the quest to come up with a cure for ASD
Autism spectrum disorder has proven to be a major concern in most communities across the globe. The condition has presented the affected children with several challenges, including effects on their development and learning. This research project was formulated following the seriousness of the condition and its impacts on children's learning and development with the condition. The project adopted both secondary and primary research methodologies to seek evidence in answering some areas of concern in the aspect of ASD in children. Data were extracted from the studies and critically analyzed before making conclusions and a recommendation. The aims and objectives of the research project were met effectively; thus, the study was successful.
Chaidez, V., Fernandez y Garcia, E., Wang, L. W., Angkustsiri, K., Krakowiak, P., Hertz‐Picciotto, I., & Hansen, R. L. (2018). Comparison of maternal beliefs about causes of autism spectrum disorder and association with utilization of services and treatments. Child: care, health and development, 44(6), 916-925.
DeFilippis, M. and Wagner, K.D., 2016. Treatment of autism spectrum disorder in children and adolescents. Psychopharmacology bulletin, 46(2), p.18.
Leader, G., Tuohy, E., Chen, J.L., Mannion, A. and Gilroy, S.P., 2020. Feeding problems, gastrointestinal symptoms, challenging behavior and sensory issues in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, pp.1-10.
Ramaswami, G. and Geschwind, D.H., 2018. Genetics of autism spectrum disorder. In Handbook of clinical neurology (Vol. 147, pp. 321-329). Elsevier.
Rutherford, M., McKenzie, K., McClure, I., Forsyth, K., O’Hare, A., McCartney, D., & Finlayson, I. (2016). A national study to investigate the clinical use of standardised instruments in autism spectrum disorder assessment of children and adults in Scotland. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 29, 93-100.
Rylaarsdam, L.E. and Guemez Gamboa, A., 2019. Genetic Causes and Modifiers in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Frontiers in cellular neuroscience, 13, p.385.
Xiao, Y. and Watson, M., 2019. Guidance on conducting a systematic literature review. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 39(1), pp.93-112.
Ye, B.S., Leung, A.O.W. and Wong, M.H., 2017. The association of environmental toxicants and autism spectrum disorders in children. Environmental pollution, 227, pp.234-242.
Autism is a spectrum of closely related disorders with core symptoms (Gaswali & Patra, 2019). Individuals with autism spectrum disorder present with problems to a certain degree with social interaction, empathy, communication, and flexible behavior. From person to person, the level of disability and the combination of symptoms have been noted to vary tremendously (Gaswali & Patra, 2019). This section of the paper explains the main reason for basing research on the chosen topic. Children's development is usually coupled with various problems and conditions, Autism spectrum disorder being one of them (Gaswali & Patra, 2019). The consequences of the problem have been noted to have diverse and sometimes effects on the patients. The children with Autism spectrum disorder presents with different and unique needs. All the three most common types of autism spectrum disorders, inclusive of the classic autism, Asperger's syndrome, and the pervasive development disorder, present with different severity and effects on a child (Gaswali & Patra, 2019). However, all forms of conditions are significant in affecting the development of children. The consequences of the condition and the impact on the development of a child, amongst other reasons, form the basic rationale for the choice of the topic. There lacks of an understanding of the presentation of the condition, such as the sensory play and the early signs of the condition (Gaswali & Patra, 2019).
Consequently, the study aims to address the same by looking into the condition in detail. Over the past years, I have personally witnessed the impact of the condition on children within my vicinity. This significantly contributed to the choice of the topic. The topic relates to the practice settings as it avails relevant knowledge on such a prevalent and significant condition on children's development. Furthermore, the relevance of the topic to childhood practice is brought in the fact that autism research is important for the people currently affected and those who can prevent symptoms in the future. Besides, it is important to understand the larger class of neurodevelopment disorders associated with an autism spectrum disorder.
Many authors have addressed the topic of autism spectrum disorder over the past years (Gunn & Delafield, 2016). Undoubtedly, this has been driven by the recent dramatic upsurge in the prevalence of children's condition. Besides, studies have also identified and discussed theories to learning that are extremely in understanding autism spectrum disorder. Various theories of autism spectrum disorders have been discussed by Berger et al. (2016), as well as their impact on the ability of a child to learn in education settings and institutions. One of the models is the TEACCH approach, which tempts to respond to the needs of autistic people using the best available approaches and methods in existence (Gunn & Delafield, 2016). The TEACCH is composed of teaching, expanding, appreciating, collaborating, and cooperating, and being holistic. The teaching aspect of the approach aims to share autism knowledge and increase the levels of skills of healthcare professionals and other practitioners (Berger et al., 2016).
On the other hand, expanding implores the increasing of knowledge to provide high-quality services to autistic people and their families who are significantly affected. The appreciating aspect of the approach calls for an appreciation of the strengths and uniqueness of the autistic culture (Gunn & Delafield, 2016). The other aspect of the TEACCH approach is collaborating and cooperating, which details that colleagues, professionals, autistic children, and their families inevitably need to collaborate and cooperate for the effectiveness and understanding of the condition (Gunn & Delafield, 2016). The approach is holistic. Thus focuses on the victim, the family, and the community (Berger et al., 2016). The model aims to focus on the person, their skills, interest as well as individual needs. Also, the model focuses on understanding the culture of autism by identifying the differences based on individual assessments. The approach further uses visual structures to organize the environment and tasks when teaching skills (Gunn & Delafield, 2016). The approach is broad-based. As a result, it supports people at work; teach skills while ensuring people's support during leisure and other social activities. Of importance about the approach, it is flexible, thus allows teaching flexibility (Berger et al., 2016).
Another approach to learning relevant to autism spectrum disorder is the Lovaas approach (Berger et al., 2016). The model uses techniques that are focused on breaking complex tasks into smaller and more achievable steps. The approach to learning works based on the principles outlined in the applied behavioral analysis (ABA) (Berger et al., 2016). The program is mostly applicable to autistic preschoolers that can take part in the therapy and can be further modified for children who have autism spectrum disorder and already in school. The model is used to teach and encourage appropriate behavior such as language use and other social skills besides alleviating behavior difficulties (Berger et al., 2016).
The HNC graded unit H5W1 and the core skills unit H5W4 are some of the HNC units relevant to the topic of the project. The H5W4 equips learners with the problem-solving skills that are undoubtedly relevant to this project as the skills are required to solve ASD in children. The H5W1 equips the learners with the knowledge required in examining a range of theoretical and practice-based approaches to a childhood practice setting. The project equally aims to identify learning approaches useful for ASD children; thus, the two are linked.
Autism spectrum disorder assessments have been linked significantly with legislation and policy guidance within community and healthcare settings. For instance, the Autism act of 2009 makes provisions for the needs of adults with autism. Over the past years, there have been legislation and policies that primarily aim to improve children and adults with autism. The project will be conducted in line with the articulations of the Scottish strategy for autism as a national initiative formulated to address the same issue as the project's topic.
Various studies have a detailed sensory play in early child development. The CDC states the concerns about the child's social skills and communication and repetitive patterns of behaviors, interests, activities, and emotional regulation as the early signs of ASD (Gaswali & Patra, 2019). Understanding autism spectrum disorder is crucial to childhood practice settings and in providing the children's individual needs and interests. Through the discussion as well as the application of other learning models for ASD patients, the sensory overload is avoided (Gaswali & Patra, 2019). Besides, the study topic would effectively ensure the direct teaching of social skills. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) sets out the civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights of every child regardless of race, religion, or abilities of the children. These are important to the research topic as it outlines equity needed in the care for ASD patients (Gaswali & Patra, 2019). The project is thus essential to the childhood practice settings as it would impact positively on the same.
Aims and Objectives
The study will aim to understand the occurrence of autism spectrum disorder and its impact on the development and needs of the patients.
1. To understand the causes, early signs of autism spectrum disorder, clinical implications, and consequences of Autistic spectrum disorder
2. To understand the various approaches to learning by ASD children
3. To understand the sensory play in Autism spectrum disorder
4. To expand the awareness and understanding within society and community of children's challenges with Autism spectrum disorder.
5. To develop management and preventive strategies for managing ASD.
Methods of Research
The research project will adopt both primary and secondary research designs. For the primary research, data will be collected through semi-structured interviews, while for the secondary research; data will be collected through a systematic review of books and articles that will be identified from electronic databases. Both the primary and secondary researches will take on a qualitative approach. Data from both studies will be analyzed and evaluated accordingly before making conclusions and recommendations.
Berger, N.I., Manston, L. and Ingersoll, B., 2016. Establishing a scale for assessing the social validity of skill building interventions for young children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 46(10), pp.3258-3269.
Gunn, K. C., & Delafield-Butt, J. T. (2016). Teaching children with autism spectrum disorder with restricted interests: A review of evidence for best practice. Review of Educational Research, 86(2), 408-430.
Gyawali, S. and Patra, B.N., 2019. Autism spectrum disorder: Trends in research exploring etiopathogenesis. Psychiatry and clinical neurosciences, 73(8), pp.466-475.
Siu, A.M., Lin, Z. and Chung, J., 2019. An evaluation of the TEACCH approach for teaching functional skills to adults with autism spectrum disorders and intellectual disabilities. Research in developmental disabilities, 90, pp.14-21.
Wiśniowiecka-Kowalnik, B. and Nowakowska, B.A., 2019. Genetics and epigenetics of autism spectrum disorder—current evidence in the field. Journal of applied genetics, 60(1), pp.37-47.
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