Intervention for emotion knowledge and behaviour problems in children with developmental disabilities.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Children with impaired emotion knowledge are likely to also experience difficulties with social skills (Bukato, 2008) and internalising and externalising behaviour problems (Trentacosta & Fine, 2009, Fine et al, 2003). Given that children with developmental disabilities are both at risk of developing behaviour problems (Roberts & Lawton, 2001), and may have impairments in emotion knowledge (Wishart et al, 2007, Kasari et al, 2001, Sinzig et al, 2008; Bal et al, 2010), teaching emotion knowledge skills is likely to be beneficial in helping to ameliorate the risks faced by these children, for developing behaviour problems. The research question investigated in this study was; can using an adapted version of the PATHS programme with children and adolescents aged between 9 and 18, who have developmental disabilities, improve both their emotion knowledge and their behaviour problems? Four participants were recruited, aged between nine and 18 who had developmental disabilities, one of whom served as a pilot participant. The intervention was carried out in the participants’ homes, with two one hour-long sessions a week. The measurements used included the Vineland-II, a behaviour diary and the Emotion Knowledge Test (EKT) - designed specifically for this research by the researcher. All participants included in the main study made improvements on the sentence-labelling task but not on the photograph-labelling task of the EKT. Participants 2 and 4 improved in regards to the number of problem behaviours displayed each week, Participant 3’s problem behaviours did not occur often enough to determine whether improvements had been made. Participant 2 improved on both of the Socialisation and Maladaptive Behaviour domains of the Vineland-II, Participant 3 improved on the Socialisation domain and Participant 4 improved on the Maladaptive Behaviour Domain, however all improvements made were small. The results indicate that there may be promise with using the PATHS programme with children with developmental disabilities, in one-to-one settings. However this research involved several limitations, such as the reliability and sensitivity of the measures used and the short length of the baseline and intervention periods. More research is needed in this area, as there are many possible social, emotional and academic benefits for these children, using the skills taught in the PATHS programme.