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Using contact work in interactions with adults with learning disabilities and autistic spectrum disorders

posted Nov 11, 2012, 3:58 AM by Mathias Dekeyser   [ updated Nov 14, 2012, 6:03 AM ]
Some people with learning disabilities find it hard to interact with other people. This project looks at one way of making interaction easier. We tried a way of measuring whether this worked or not. The project was useful, but there is more work to be carried out on how to measure this.

This article describes a project about using contact work with people with learning disabilities and autistic spectrum disorder. People with learning disabilities and additional autistic spectrum disorder are at risk of becoming socially isolated because of their difficulties in interacting with others. Contact work is a form of Pre-Therapy, which is based on Carl Rogers’ person-centred approach. It focuses on psychological contact, which is the first of the ‘necessary and sufficient’ conditions for therapeutic relationships. The approach was developed by Gary Prouty and has been used with people who find it difficult to establish psychological contact because of their emotional, mental health or cognitive problems. The approach was used with two clients with learning disabilities and autistic spectrum disorder. The sessions were evaluated using a tool created for the project that was designed to measure different contact behaviours. The impact of the project on both clients and therapists is discussed. In addition, the measurement tool is examined, and areas for further study are identified. The project was felt to be useful on a subjective level. The measurement tool was useful in collecting quantitative data but requires more work to capture more qualitative aspects of the work.

Brooks, S., & Paterson, G. (2011). Using contact work in interactions with adults with learning disabilities and autistic spectrum disorders. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 39, 161-166. Available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-3156.2010.00643.x/abstract.
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