Friday, January 16, 2015

Guest Post by Ezra Lockhart: The Negative Impact of Social Functioning Deficits on Adult Outcomes: The Broader Effect of Loneliness

It is with great pleasure that I introduce our next guest writer, Ezra Lockhart. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have met Ezra through LinkedIn and he has graciously agreed to share a guest post with us on Nathan's Voice. Please give him a warm welcome and I encourage you to leave him a comment at the end of his post!

The more substantial hindrance for many people with developmental disability is not the academic deficits, but the social deficits that isolates them from their peers (Osman & Blinder, 1982). Undoubtedly, social isolation and peer rejection can lead to feelings of loneliness (Margalit & Al-Yagon, 2002). Deficits in social skills contribute considerably to creating socially isolated environments and situations. Moreover, these social functioning deficits negatively affect adult outcomes and are implicated as contributors to patterns of unemployment and underemployment, lack of friendships and romantic relationships, and low rates of independent living in adults with developmental disability (Farley et al., 2009). Indeed, with impacts to these adult outcomes loneliness is a problem for people with developmental disability.

Developing support for social functioning and participation is important not only to address the issue of loneliness, but to positively impact outcomes in a variety of areas (i.e., school, family life, employment, recreation, community resources, independent living, etc.). There is a contemporary trend for support to be developed specifically as early intervention and implemented in early childhood educational settings. There is a consensus that this approach provides the most benefit to the individual throughout their life span. The benefits of early intervention are apparent, unfortunately, there are generations of adults that have surpassed support designed for traditional educational settings and for younger populations. Therefore it is imperative to develop and implement support for social functioning and participation in varying environments frequently encountered by adults with developmental disability that is attuned for situational encounters with their age-appropriate peer groups. In other words, social support interventions need expanded to account for family, community, employment, independent living, and recreational settings. This will aid in addressing the issue of loneliness as well as increasing social communication skills necessary for access to resources in these varied settings.

In conjunction with developing adult interventions that address age-appropriate environments and situational encounters, it is important to address the following factors identified as predicting social difficulties and loneliness experiences among persons with developmental disability. Researchers (e.g. Margalit & Al-Yagon, 2002) identified three main predicting factors: a) the knowledge deficit (Pearl, 1992), b) the performance deficit (Vaughn & La Greca, 1992), and c) rejected and loneliness behavioral styles (Margalit, 1994). Pearl (1992) describes the knowledge deficit as the lack of age-appropriate knowledge needed to develop social relationships. Vaughn and La Greca (1992) describe the performance deficit as the lack of ability to translate age-appropriate knowledge into effective social behaviors. Lastly, Margalit (1994) describes rejected and loneliness behavioral styles as individuals accepting the reputation and characteristics of isolated individuals and adopting such behaviors. These deficiencies in social functioning and maladaptive behavioral styles inhibit the individual from establishing social relationships. Their self-concept and beliefs in their inability to develop social relationships needs to be addressed in future support models.

In a final analysis, loneliness is a distinct issue adversely affecting people with developmental disability. Addressing this concern will require interventions that are delivered in various age-appropriate settings. Furthermore, reforming self-concept, beliefs, and behavioral styles for persons with developmental disability will be integral to establishing healthy attitudes and actions conducive to building and maintaining social relationships.

References
Farley, M. A., McMahon, W. M., Fombonne, E., Jenson, W. R., Miller, J., Gardner, M., ... & Coon, H. (2009). Twenty-year outcome for individuals with autism and average or near-average cognitive abilities. Autism Research, 2(2), 109-118.
Margalit, M., & Al-Yagon, M. (2002). The loneliness experience of children with learning disabilities. In B. Y. Wong & M. L. Donahue (Eds.), The social dimensions of learning disabilities: Essays in honor of Tanis Bryan (pp.53-75). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Osman, B. B., & Blinder, H. (1982). A note. In B. Osman & H. Blinder No one to play with: The social side of learning disabilities (pp. ixx). New York: Random House.
Pearl, R. (1992). Psychosocial characteristics of learning disabled students. In N. N. Singh & I. L. Beale (Eds.), Loneliness: A sourcebook of current theory, research and therapy (pp. 1-18). New York, NY: Wiley.
Vaughn, S., & La Greca, A. M. (1992). Beyond greetings and making friends: Social skills from a broader perspective. In Y. L. Wong (Ed.), Contemporary intervention research in learning disabilities: An international perspective (pp. 94-114). New York, NY: Springer-Verlag.


Ezra Lockhart, MHlthSc(DD) candidate, MCSE, AC has worked one-on-one with over 50 individuals who experience a wide range of physical, developmental and intellectual disabilities. In 2004, he started assisting adults with various physical disabilities. In 2011, he specialized in providing home- and community-based behavioral supports for individuals who live on the autistic spectrum. In 2014, he expanded to provide milieu and group therapy (e.g., psychoeducational, skill development, cognitive-behavioral) for youth coping with fetal alcohol effects, severe emotion disturbances, personality disorders, and behavioral and substance abuse issues. Be sure to follow Ezra on his ePortfolio at http://www.ezralockhart.com and connect with him on LinkedIn.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

If YOU are Raising a Special Needs Child, Read Laurie Wallin's book #GetYourJoyBack and Enter the Book Giveaway for your own copy!

I'm proud to a member of the #GetYourJoyBack launch team, and to be able to #share the information about the Book Giveaway with YOU!!! Please do the same with all of your friends, asking them to do the same. We all know how challenging it can be raising a special needs child and how important it is for us to be able to rejuvenate ourselves physically, spiritually and mentally. Thank YOU for taking the time to stop by Nathan's Voice and check out #GetYourJoyBack!!! Also make sure to follow author Laurie Wallin on Twitter @mylivingpower for more great inspiration!  Below are just a few of the reviews shared by parents who have already read the book...

“It isn't the long day of monitoring a child's precarious health or being hypervigilant about her mood and mental health challenges that weighs parents down; it's the wishing that things were different. . . . Resentment, not the intense care they must provide their child, is the parents' greatest stressor and source of pain.” —Laurie Wallin


Parents of specials needs children are exhausted. They've done all the research, consulted all the experts, joined support groups, gotten counseling, fought for the best life for their children. Often just caring for their children's needs and attempting to maintain a home maxes out parents' mental, emotional, and spiritual reserves.

Laurie Wallin knows firsthand the difficulties of this journey. With Get Your Joy Back, she steps forward to make a bold, audacious claim: in the midst of this long-term, intense task, it is still possible to have an abundant life, full of joy. The key to radically changing daily life and restoring joy to the weary is forgiveness. Wallin gives parents a lifeline to find that restoration, pulling them back to shore when they feel like they're drowning.

This book is full of practical, biblical insights and strategies to shed the resentments that leave Christian special-needs parents themselves spiritually, emotionally, and socially drained. Wallin meets readers right where they are, sugar-coating nothing, but addressing issues with honesty, humor, and--above all--hope.

An invitation and a promise for weary Christian parents of special needs kids from a parent who's been there.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

@NathansVoice invites YOU to #share the story of your #Autism Journey to inspire other families, give them hope and let them know they are not alone!

Dear Fellow Advocate,


     I hope your New Year is off to a fabulous start!! You might be visiting my autism resource blog for the the first time, or possibly haven't visited in a while. If you are a parent, a caregiver or a grandparent of a child with autism spectrum disorders, I would be most honored to offer you the opportunity to share your story in a Guest Article on Nathan's Voice this year! If you are an educator or a service provider and would be interested in sharing something that would benefit or improve the lives of those who visit my autism resource blog, please let me know so that can pencil you in on the 2015 calendar as a prospective Guest Writer. 
     I wish that had more time to write and post on my autism resource blog but, I'm working full-time in the self-contained autism classroom at a local middle school, the leader of the AutismOKC parent support group, and taking care of my special needs family while completing a college course each semester towards finishing my associate's degree at a local junior college and eventually acquire my teaching certification in Special Education. This next semester will be challenging for me as it is very difficult for me to remember dates and I am enrolled in U.S. History to 1877. All of my free time will be dedicated to memorizing the information which will get me through this course.
     There is no obligation and no deadline's when sharing through my autism resource blog. I know how busy life can be and there's enough of that in our already overwhelmed schedules! When your ready, just send what you want to share in an attached Word document, along with any photos (credits, if borrowed), links and the instruction for placement of each, to the email address listed below. I don't make changes to anything without contacting the Guest Writer first. I hope that I have covered everything but, I am always glad to answer any question, at any time. The only thing is that it might take me a few hours to get back to you, if I'm in the classroom, taking a college exam, assisting my own son whom has high-functioning autism or his older brother whom has adhd with a school-related project. I will respond as soon as I possibly can. Thank you for your understanding and patience!
     If you haven't had the opportunity to check out Nathan's Voice before now, please time time to look around and see what we have been up to. Our local nonprofit, AutismOklahoma.org, has recently acquired a building, the Autism Oklahoma Building, located near downtown Oklahoma City. This will be a place where families and friends of individuals affected by autism to come together in support of raising awareness, understanding and acceptance for them in the surrounding community! Great things are coming in 2015 and I will be making time to share about those on Nathan's Voice, as well as on the social media outlets I utilize for everyone to learn more about what's happening in Oklahoma!!
     Please take all the time you need to make a decision. I appreciate your time and I look forward to hearing from you when you are able to respond! 

Your Fellow Advocate,

Lorrie Servati
AutismOklahoma Team Captain of "Nathan's Voice"
Follow me on Twitter @NathansVoice
AutismOKC Coordinator & Leader
Email me at Lorrie@AutismOklahoma.org