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Convention accepts Bermuda autism papers

Two research papers written in Bermuda have been accepted by the Association for Behavior Analysis International.

It is the first time research papers from Bermuda have been accepted by ABAI.

Tomorrow's Voices Bermuda Autism Early Intervention Centre's verbal behaviour therapists, Frances Parkes and Naomi Taylor, the authors of the papers which focused on the autism spectrum, have been invited to present their work in Denver, Colorado at the ABAI 43rd Annual Convention.

Ms Parkes and Ms Taylor submitted their papers to ABAI to be considered as part of the convention's booklets, which will be handed out to the participants at this year's Annual Convention.

Ms Thea Furbert, co-founder of Tomorrow's Voices and chair of the board, said: “To be recognised for our work outside of Bermuda is a great honour. The papers were based on research using our own clients and the data analysed and created based on our clients and their experiences. This research will be beneficial to our clients as well as those attending the ABAI and working in the field of autism. On behalf of the board we are very proud of the work from two of our Verbal Behaviour Analysts, and the entire team as a whole.”

The first paper, entitled “The Effects of Differential Reinforcement of Low Rates of Behaviour (DRL) with a Response Cost Procedure on Socially Mediated Vocal Stereotypes in an Adolescent Male with ASD”, focused on increasing functional communication in a six-year-old boy with autism who showed few signs of speaking or making any noises at all to impact his environment. Creating a communication tool for children is described by the charity as “a fundamental and crucial step that increases their independence and overall quality of life”.

The aim of the study was to “teach the child the value of his voice by encouraging him to emit sounds on request. As a result, the child can use his voice when out in the community without having to rely on either an adult interpreting or guessing what he wants or having to rely on the use of a communication aid. Ultimately this will also reduce challenging behaviours that are the result of an inability to communicate.”

The second paper, entitled “The Effectiveness of Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) on Increasing Vocalisations for a Child with Autism”, looked at a seven-year-old child with autism who exhibited extremely high levels of vocal stereotypy (range of repetitive vocal sounds, words or phrases) with a focus on identifying why he engaged in this behaviour and to then provide him with a way to control it. The ultimate goal was “to reduce the level of his vocal stereotypy so that he was more able to learn and function in more typical environments and lessen the need for intensely supported environments.”

In 2006, founders Tricia Simons and Thea Furbert recognised a need for additional autism services in Bermuda. In pioneering autism services in Bermuda, the two championed the move from awareness to action, and Tomorrow's Voices was formed to provide research-based, intensive, direct therapy to those with Autism and other developmental disabilities. In October 2007, Tomorrow's Voices launched as a non-profit centre and registered charity offering early intervention services at a subsidised rate. It is the first and only early intervention centre of its kind in Bermuda.

According to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention one in every 68 children are born with autism.

Naomi Taylor and Frances Parkes, verbal behaviour analysts from Tomorrow's Voices, have had their research papers accepted by the Association for Behaviour Analysts International (Photograph supplied)

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Published February 27, 2017 at 12:27 am (Updated February 27, 2017 at 12:27 am)

Convention accepts Bermuda autism papers

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