Mothers’ involvement in early identification and intervention for children with autism in Nairobi City County, Kenya
Ouma, Onala John
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The importance of early intervention for children with autism and those at risk cannot be overemphasised. Early intervention is important in stimulating development in formative years and reducing the chances of developing secondary disabilities in children at risk and those with developmental disabilities. The purpose of this study was to investigate the outcomes of mothers’ involvement in early identification and intervention for children with Autism. This study was guided by the theory of social constructivism which recognises learning as an active process where the learner interacts with the environment and acquires new skills and behaviours. The study adopted the survey research design. Purposive sampling was used to choose institutions that cater for children with autism in Nairobi City County. Questionnaires, interview schedules and observation schedules were used to collect data from parents, occupational therapists and teachers. Ten schools, two Mothers to Toddlers’ Programmes and ten home school programmes were chosen for the study. Parents of children with autism were randomly chosen from the institutions to fill in the questionnaires while the teachers and occupational therapists were interviewed to provide information on early intervention strategies they used. Observation schedules were used to collect qualitative data from Mothers to Toddler’s programmes, Home Based Schools and Schools. Quasi-statistical approach was used to analyse both statistical and descriptive data. The research found that mothers who identified their children early and took part in early intervention had significant reduction in the symptoms of autism in their children. Children who were identified very late and those whose mothers did not take part in interventions did not register significant reduction in the symptoms of autism. The research found that some mothers identified children with autism as early as two years while others were identified as late as thirteen years. The study concluded that parents, teachers and therapist should work together in early identification and intervention of children with autism and those at risk. Intensive early intervention was found to yield better results and should be recommended. The study recommended that the training curriculum for teachers and therapists should include early identification and intervention to make it easy for them to identify children with autism in early years. It further recommended that awareness campaign should be carried out to equip parents with information on early identification and intervention so that they can actively participate in the process.