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Title: The impact of summer break from school on children with severe autism and their parents: An Interdisciplinary Study
Authors: Duncan, Jana J.
Keywords: severe autism;autism education;summer break;regression;parent stress
Issue Date: 20-Oct-2016
Abstract: The purpose of this research was to investigate the effect of summer break on the academic, social, life, communication, and behaviour skills of elementary children with severe autism and to assess the recoupment of skills in the fall. Regression and recoupment were measured by testing academic Individual Education Plan (IEP) goals based on the Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills (ABLLS) and the Vineland Adaptive Behaviour Scale (VABS) at four time points to assess a baseline in school, the effect of summer, and the effect of returning to school, and with parent interviews. The research found that students with severe autism regressed in academic skills over the summer break, but recouped those skills within four weeks of returning to school in the fall. The other areas, rated using the VABS, did not change either during the school year baseline or over the summer break, but according to parent interviews social skills decreased and maladaptive behaviours increased. The secondary purpose of this research was to study the impact of summer break on the stress of parents of children with severe autism and to gain a qualitative understanding of the impact of summer break. Stress was assessed using the Parent Stress Index (PSI) during the school year and then again during the summer and with parent interviews. The research showed that there were increased in parent stress during the summer break. Parents reported in the interviews that summer break also had an overall negative impact on child emotions, parent relief, the child's break from the parents, and the structure of the family day, and all of these, in addition to changes to skills and behaviours, contributed to parent stress. Summer break also had a negative impact on finances and siblings and some positive effects according to interviews. Parents saw their children's disability as primarily social, requiring interventions and supports from society, while also acknowledging impairment effects. Parents suggested quality, structured, funded relief programs and workers as a solution to the negative impacts of summer break.
Appears in Collections:Doctoral Theses
Human Studies and Interdisiplinarity - Doctoral Theses

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