Parents’ and facilitators’ perceptions of children with autism spectrum disorder in an equine-assisted learning programme

Butt, Megan (2017-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) currently affects an estimated 1:68 children globally and is the second most common disability worldwide. ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by abnormal social behaviour, delays in language, sensory processing difficulties and restricted and stereotyped patterns of behaviour and interests. These impairments vary in nature and affect the individual throughout their lifetime. The cause of ASD is still unknown. Therefore interventions for individuals with ASD target the impairments of the ASD individual as opposed to treating the cause. One intervention that is proposed to effectively reduce the impairments of children with ASD is Human-Animal Interaction (HAI) interventions. HAI interventions take place when an animal is incorporated into the treatment process. A specific type of HAI intervention for children with ASD that is under researched in South Africa is equine-assisted learning (EAL). The current study aimed to address this gap in literature by exploring the effect EAL may have on children with ASD in South Africa. The effect of EAL was explored through conducting semi-structured interviews with parents and facilitators involved in an EAL programme in the Western Cape. Eight parents with a child with ASD in the programme and 3 facilitators of the EAL programme participated in the study. The interviews were transcribed and further analysed using thematic analysis. Following thematic analyses three main themes emerged, namely, the benefits of EAL, feedback and experiences of the EAL programme, and the perceived role EAL plays in producing the benefits. It is within the context of these themes that parents and facilitators described the beneficial nature of EAL for their child with ASD and explained how these benefits were facilitated in a session. Facilitators further provided their feedback on the physical environment of the EAL sessions, the children and the parents. The facilitators concluded that rain and wind influenced the sessions – favourably and unfavourably respectively. These results supported findings in existing literature. However, these results also addressed a gap in literature on EAL programmes for children with ASD, in particular the lack of the facilitator’s perceptions. The facilitator’s perceptions, in this study were essential in providing a more in-depth understanding of the benefits, the physical context of the EAL sessions and the differential behaviour of children with autism and Asperger’s syndrome within the sessions.

AFRIKAANS OPSOMMING: Outisme Spektrum Versteuring (OSV) affekteer tans ongeveer 1:68 kinders wêreldwyd en is die tweede mees algemene gestremdheid. OSV is ’n neuro-ontwikkelingsversteuring wat gekenmerk word deur abnormale sosiale gedrag, vertraging in taal, sensoriese prosesseringsprobleme, en beperkte en stereotipe gedragspatrone en belangstellings. Die aard van die gestremdheid verskil van individu tot individu en dit duur voort regdeur hul lewe. Die oorsaak van OSV is tans onbekend en intervensies vir OSV-individue teiken die gestremdheid van die individu met OSV in plaas daarvan om die oorsaak daarvan te behandel. Mens-Dier Interaksie (MDI) intervensie word voorgestel om op ʼn effektiewe manier kinders met OSV se gestremdheid te verminder. MDI-intervensie is wanneer ʼn dier betrek word in die behandelingsproses. ʼn Spesifieke tipe MDI-intervensie vir kinders met OSV waarmee navorsing gedoen word in Suid-Afrika, is perdry-ondersteunde leerprogramme (POL). Die huidige studie beoog om die gaping in die literatuur aan te vul deur ondersoek in te stel na die effek wat POL het op kinders met OSV in Suid-Afrika. Die effek van POL is ondersoek deur semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude te voer met ouers en fasiliteerders van ʼn POL in die Wes-Kaap. Agt ouers met ʼn kind met OSV in die program en 3 fasiliteerders van die POL het deelgeneem aan die studie. Na voltooiing van die onderhoude, is dit getranskribeer en verder geanaliseer deur tematiese analise. Na die tematiese analise het drie temas na vore gekom, naamlik die voordele van POL, terugvoer oor en ervaring van die POL, en die rol wat POL speel om voordele teweeg te bring. Dit is volgens hierdie temas wat ouers en fasiliteerders die voordele van POL vir hul OSV-kind beskryf het en verduidelik het hoe die voordele in ʼn sessie gefasiliteer word. Fasiliteerders het verder terugvoer gegee oor die fisieke omgewing van die POL-sessies, die kinders en hul ouers. Die fasiliteerders was van mening dat reën en wind die sessies beïnvloed het – voordelig en nadelig onderskeidelik. Hierdie resultate het die bevindings in huidige literatuur ondersteun. Die resultate het ook ʼn gaping in die literatuur oor ʼn POL vir kinders met OSV gevul – spesifiek wat die fasiliteerder se persepsies betref. Die fasiliteerder se persepsies in hierdie studie was noodsaaklik om die voordele, die fisiese konteks van die POL sessies en die differensiële gedrag van kinders met outisme en Asperger se sindroom binne die sessies beter te verstaan.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/102664
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