Dr. James D. MacDonald's Website
Helping Parents Help Children. Programs for Parents, Therapists & Educators
After studying over 100 families of children with autistic features, we identified several common problems as well as several common growth points in the children during home-based treatment programs. The Communicating Partners programs are an optimistic approach to Autism. In our programs we teach parents and professionals to use the ARM to observe critical skills that are often ignored when the major concern is to get the child to talk or to stop bothersome behaviors. The ARM also assesses how adults communicate with children and provides a guide to interact in socially supportive ways.
We are currently developing the ARM with families in our clinic. We hope to make it available in the future as part of our manual on communication development of autistic children.
In a series of studies both in Columbus as well as in Ann Arbor with Dr. Ira Glovinski, we have discovered the following about the families we studied.
The Communicating Partners approach first makes sure that the child and their parents are in playful, matched relationships . Our theme might be RELATIONSHIPS FIRST. WE HAVE FOUND OVER AND OVER AGAIN THAT ONCE PARENTS LEARN HOW TO PLAY IN THEIR CHILD'S WORLD, THEN THEY ARE ABLE TO BRING THEM INTO OUR WORLD.
What clinical tools are available to help parents build social relationships with children?
In the last ten years, colleagues and I have focused on developing practical written and video materials that parents could easily use with out extensive training and without disrupting their busy lives. The two case studies below describe the clinical processes involved in following two children for over three years. The major resource that I used in the programs was the book Becoming Partners with Children.
Recently, I have worked to shift the focus to having parents manage the program at home with biweekly sessions with me and help within their community. Because I have been moving away from the therapy model to the home-living model, I have developed a series of tools in small pieces for the busy lives that most families have. Consequently, parents working with me now use four easier to manage manuals:
These manuals are also used by therapists and teachers to promote developmentally appropriate social and communicative skills. Please see the Publications page in this web site for more information.