Joseph Lucyshyn

Associate Professor

Relevant Degree Programs

 
 

Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Nov 2019)
A preliminary evaluation of a modified school-based facing your fears for students with autism spectrum disorder and anxiety (2020)

Anxiety is common in children with autism. Although there has been a steady increase in the empirical evidence demonstrating successful treatment of anxiety in children with ASD using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), there is little research on implementing CBT in the school setting. With a high prevalence of anxiety among youth with ASD, researchers have identified implementing effective treatments in real-world settings as a top priority. Thus, this dissertation, consisting of two related studies, examined the adaptation for and delivery of the Facing Your Fears (FYF) program in the school setting. Using an integrated knowledge translation framework (iKT), knowledge user’s perspectives on the acceptability, feasibility, and sustainability of delivering FYF in a school setting were examined in Study 1. Qualitative data were collected through focus group discussions and analyzed using thematic analysis techniques. The insights provided by educators and parents regarding the strengths, barriers and practical considers for implementation of FYF in the school setting were used to inform provisions to FYF, resulting in a proposed modified school-based FYF intervention. In study 2, a quasi-experimental group design along with semi-structured interviews and focus groups were used to evaluate the effectiveness of educators implementing the modified school-based FYF to treat anxiety among students with ASD. Qualitative data were analysed using thematic analysis. Results are discussed in terms of skill acquisition, preliminary treatment outcomes, and social validity. Results indicated that with training and on-going feedback educators obtained a modest level of fidelity in implementing the intervention. Non-significant decreases in student anxiety symptoms across all informant ratings (students, parents and teachers) were observed. Social validity ratings across participants were high with the following themes emerging from the data: (a) outcomes; (b) program structure; (c) inclusion; and (d) recommendations. These results provide a step forward in the promotion of anxiety treatment for children with ASD in school settings. Specifically, they offer a model for researchers to collaborate with key stakeholders in adapting interventions for use in schools, thereby, bridging the gap between research and practice. Importantly, they highlight educator’s capability in delivering empirically-supported treatments to address anxiety among students with ASD.

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Preventative family-centred positive behaviour support for families of children with Down syndrome (2020)

Family-centred positive behaviour support (FCPBS) for children with developmental disabilities and problem behaviour has been well studied at the tertiary, individualized level of intervention, but no studies have addressed its implementation at the secondary prevention level. Group parent training programs are well substantiated and, therefore, offer evidence-based models for a secondary-tier FCPBS approach. Based on key features of FCPBS and best practice in group parent training, a 14-week, FCPBS parent training program was designed for families of young children with Down syndrome (DS) who engaged in mild to moderate problem behaviour. Program content included understanding problem behaviour, universal positive behaviour support strategies, mindfulness practices, and cognitive-behaviour change strategies. An initial version of the program was trialled in a Stage 1 study with two families. Focus groups were conducted with the participants, and revisions were made. A randomized controlled trial comprised of experimental and waitlist control groups was then employed to evaluate the effects of the revised program. Eleven families of children with DS participated in the intervention. Direct observations of child problem behaviour, child positive engagement, and parent intervention fidelity were conducted in one target family routine per family. Indirect measures included child behaviour in two generalization routines per family, sense of parenting competence, parenting stress, and family quality of life. Data were gathered pre- and postintervention and at the 6-month follow up with the experimental group. In contrast to the waitlist control group, families in the experimental group showed statistically significant improvements in child problem behaviour and positive engagement in both the target family routine and one generalization routine. Significant improvements for mothers were found for parenting sense of competence, parenting stress, and family quality of life. In contrast, fathers did not show improvements in global measures of child behaviour or family functioning. The study makes two unique contributions to the PBS literature: It is the first study to evaluate a secondary prevention model of FCPBS and the first to examine the efficacy of FCPBS for children with DS. A secondary-tier approach to FCPBS appears to be a promising, cost-effective intervention for ameliorating problem behaviour in children with DS.

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Using a Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT) based behaviour plan in elementary schools (2018)

There is a growing body of evidence that early stress such as neglect, maltreatment and other adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) affect the way a children’s brain develops, making them more vulnerable to mental health problems. When these children reach school age, they are more likely to be identified as having learning, behaviour or social problems, and becoming students “at-risk”. The literature suggests that one of the reasons why these children have difficulty in school is that their nervous systems may be geared to prioritize managing fear rather than to processing information. In other words, the lower-order stress response system is given priority over the higher-level functions of processing information and learning, including executive functions. This study was a naturalistic pilot project designed to assess the use of a Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT) assessment to inform a behaviour plan for elementary school students who have a history of adverse childhood experiences. The study involved two cohorts of four children, ages 6 – 9, who had a history of adverse childhood experiences and had been identified as needing a high level of behavioural support within the mainstream classroom. Over a period of 4 months, one cohort received a trauma-informed behaviour plan based on an NMT assessment, the other cohort received a behaviour plan based on a Functional Behaviour Assessment. Percentage of academic engaged time and heart rate variability were tracked over the course of the intervention. Pre and post measures of executive functions were gathered. For the four students in the NMT cohort, a pre and post NMT metric was produced, as well as a pre- and post NME mini map. Neither of the interventions were demonstrated to be effective, which is most likely due to the complex challenges of the naturalistic setting in the school context. However, some interesting trends were identified that would suggest that further research would be warranted.

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Positive behavior support for deaf children with developmental disabilities and severe problem behavior (2010)

A significant percentage of deaf children are diagnosed with additional disabilities, with estimates of educationally significant co-morbidities as high as 51% (Gallaudet Research Institute, 2006). Deaf children with additional disabilities are at increased risk for developing significant problem behavior, due to the severity of communication and other developmental challenges. The need for research regarding strategies to address problem behaviors in this unique group has been identified in the fields of education of the deaf and hard of hearing and applied behavior analysis (Carr, 2006; Luckner & Carter, 2001; Luckner, Muir, Howell, Sebald, & Young, 2005). Two studies were conducted to answer questions related to staff training and behavior intervention for deaf children with additional disabilities. The first study utilized a one group pretest-posttest design to investigate the association between a train-the-trainer program and improvements in staff knowledge and skill regarding functional assessment and positive behavior support. The second study utilized a single-subject multiple baseline across settings design to investigate the effectiveness of a positive behavior support (PBS) approach to problem behavior with a deaf child diagnosed with cerebral palsy and autism. Results for the first study showed that the training program produced a statistically significant difference between pre- and post-test scores, suggesting that the training program was associated with improved knowledge regarding behavior assessment and intervention. Results for the second study demonstrated a functional relation between a family centered PBS process and improvements in child behavior and participation in three valued routines in the home. Social validity evaluations, completed by participating staff and parents, demonstrated that the goals, strategies, and outcomes of the interventions were acceptable, relevant, and useful. Results also demonstrated that a Deaf interventionist could effectively provide implementation support to hearing parents, under the supervision of an expert in PBS. Results are discussed in terms of findings in relation to the education of the deaf and hard of hearing and PBS literatures, unique contributions to the literature, limitations, implications for researchers and practitioners in the fields of education of the deaf and hard of hearing and PBS, and directions for future research.

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Explaining the Unit of Analysis and Intervention for Children with Developmental Disabilities and Food Refusal Behaviour (2009)

No abstract available.

Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
Instructor implemented Positive Behaviour Support in a fitness program for adolescents and adults with autism (2017)

Research indicates that there is a need for fitness and recreational opportunities for adolescents and young adults with autism. There is also research indicating there is a need for instructor training in the areas of behaviour support, communication strategies, and curriculum development. The study investigated the effectiveness of the I CAN Get fit program, a community-based group fitness program for adolescents and young adults with autism. The program uses Behavioural Skills Training (BST) to teach fitness instructors to implement Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) to support the participation of individuals with autism. Fourteen adolescents and young adults with autism and eight fitness instructors participated in the study. A randomized control trial with a waitlist control group evaluated the effects of the I CAN Get Fit program. Dependent measures included instructor fidelity of implementation of PBS strategies, and participant engagement, problem behavior, physical fitness, social relationships and community participation. Direct observation data and assessment instrument-based data were gathered across three assessment periods: Baseline, post-intervention and follow-up. Results documented statistically significant improvements in instructor use of PBS strategies and in participant engagement and problem behavior following implementation of the fitness program. However, no change within or between groups was evidenced in physical fitness and in community participation. Although improvement was shown in interpersonal relationships post-intervention for both groups, these changes were non-significant when compared to the first baseline. Results are discussed in terms of relations and unique contributions to the literature, implications for the provision of community-based fitness programs to adolescents and young adults with autism, limitations and cautions, and future research.Keywords: autism; fitness; recreation; positive behaviour support; behavioural skills training

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The effect of schedules of reinforcement on the force and rate of responses during extinction (2015)

Approximately 30 to 40% of individuals diagnosed with autism display problem behaviour (i.e., aggressive behaviour, SIB, property destruction). Problem behaviour is socially stigmatizing and generally a predictor of a poor quality of life. Although force is a defining aspect of problem behaviour, rate is the most frequent measure during behavioural assessment and treatment. With the purpose of examining the influence of schedules of reinforcement on the force and rate of the response during extinction, I conducted two experiments in three individuals diagnosed with autism. Using a reversal design, one participant was exposed to VR5 followed by EXT (Experiment 1); and two participants were exposed to a sequence of VR5+CRF followed by EXT (Experiment 2). Findings of Experiment 1 in Participant 2 showed no clear functional relations between VR5 and the level, trend and variability of force of response during EXT. However, a functional was demonstrated between VR5 and the level, trend and variability of rate of response during EXT. Findings of Experiment 2 in Participant 3 evidenced functional relations between a VR5 + CRF schedule of reinforcement and the level, trend and variability of force and rate of the response during EXT. Participant 4 evidenced a functional relations between VR5 + CRF a decrease in trend, and an increase in variability of force during EXT. In summary, Results across the three participants demonstrated a systematic variance between schedules of reinforcement operating prior to extinction and changes in level, trend, and/or variability in force and rate of the response. Results suggest that force and rate, as a result of the introduction of one or two schedules of reinforcement, varied systematically but differently for each individual. I suggest that clinicians should include a measure of force in addition to rate during the assessment and treatment of problem behaviour. Further research is needed to increase the generality of these results.

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A trans-situational positive behaviour support approach to the generalized reduction of problem behaviour across group home and faimly home setting for an adult with autism (2014)

A number of studies have shown that adults living in group homes spend less time with their families. One barrier to increasing time spent with families may be that a large proportion of adults living in group homes display elevated levels of problem behaviour. Furthermore, group home staff and families may not have sufficient training to prevent problem behaviour in group home or family home settings. This study evaluates an approach that synthesizes three promising practices in the field of developmental disabilities: person-centred planning, trans-situational positive behaviour support (PBS), and the activity setting as a unit of analysis. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy and acceptability of this approach to the generalized reduction of problem behaviour for an adult with autism from a group home setting to a family home setting. One adult with autism and problem behaviour, the group home staff who supported him, and his parents participated in the study. Two settings were identified for trans-situational intervention: a group home post-dinner routine; and a family home pre-dinner routine. In collaboration with group home staff a functional assessment-based, multi-component trans-situational PBS plan (TSI) was designed for the group home routine. In addition a brief trans-situational PBS plan (tsi) for the family home was generated. A preliminary cultural fit evaluation by primary staff indicated that the plan was a good fit with group home ecology. Completion of baseline and intervention phases will occur by June 2014. Preliminary results are discussed in terms of relation to the literature, implications, cautions and limitations, and directions for future research.

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Examining the implementation of a family-centred positive behaviour support approach designed to be sibling-friendly : a single-subject experimental investigation (2014)

Research suggests that being a sibling of a child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may come with unique and challenging experiences not typically experienced by siblings. Children with ASD and their siblings tend to have less close relationships and spend less time together. Siblings of children with ASD may also experience emotional or behavioural adjustment issues, which may be the result of such issues as the amount of problem behaviour exhibited by the child with ASD. Research to date on these sibling dyads has focused on improving interactions between siblings or decreasing challenging behaviour exhibited by the child with ASD toward the sibling. Positive behaviour support (PBS), with its focus on improving child and family quality of life, may offer a more comprehensive approach when intervening with these sibling dyads. The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of a PBS approach designed to be sibling-friendly on the challenging behaviour and participation of a child with ASD in two routines involving sibling interaction. Study participants included a child with ASD and an intellectual disability, her older typically developing sister, and their mother. Settings were a sibling play routine and a morning self-care routine in the family’s home. Dependent measures included routine steps successfully completed and problem behaviour. The study employed a single-case, multiple probe design across two routines, in combination with a one-point treatment withdrawal phase in the first routine. Due to professional requirements to graduate in the May convocation, the study was completed through baseline measurement in the two routines, and PBS plan design and initial training and support in the first routine. Preliminary results are discussed in terms of cautions and limitations, and directions for future research.

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Transforming coercive processes with a Korean family of a child with a developmental disability or problem behaviour (2014)

Family-centered PBS has been shown to be an effective and acceptable approach with families of children who have developmental disabilities and problem behaviours. However, little research has been done into the effects of cultural and linguistic differences on the provision of support for immigrant families. Among Canada’s many increasing ethnic minority populations, Korean Canadians are growing in number particularly rapidly. The purpose of this study was to add to the evidentiary base of an ecological, family-centered PBS approach by replicating the work of Lucyshyn et al. (2014) with a Korean-Canadian family raising a child with a developmental disability and problem behaviour. A single-case, quasi-experimental multiple baseline design across two routines in the home was used to evaluate the effectiveness of an approach designed to be culturally responsive to a Korean-Canadian family. Baseline data and preliminary intervention data were gathered for one target routine, and preliminary baseline data were gathered for the second routine. Preliminary results documented substantial decreases in child problem behaviour and increases in routine participation during the first sub-phase of intervention in which the interventionist provided intensive training with the child and in vivo parent training with the child’s mother. Preliminary social validity and contextual/cultural fit results indicated that the intervention was acceptable and contextually appropriate to the child’s mother. These preliminary results are discussed in terms of contributions to the literature, implications, cautions and limitations, and future research. This preliminary analysis serves as my thesis, while future research will address the remaining questions and extensions of this work.

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Use of a mindfulness practice to decrease problem behaviour and increase engaged time of three students in an elementary school setting (2014)

Mental health problems in children and adolescents can impair functioning at home, in school, with peers and in the community. Children and youth with a mental illness tend to engage in problem behaviour in the classroom. Research has shown that self-management strategies are cost effective and practical ways to improve academic performance and reduce problem behaviour. Mindfulness is a self-management strategy and is defined as the awareness that emerges through intentionally and nonjudgmentally paying attention in the present moment. Meditation on the Soles of the Feet is an example of a mindfulness practice that enables an individual to divert his or her attention and awareness from an anxiety or anger-provoking situation to a neutral part of the body. This research study replicates and extends recent studies investigating the effectiveness of this practice. The mindfulness practice was augmented by a functional assessment to individualize the intervention for each participant. The participants were three elementary school-aged children who frequently engaged in disruptive and off-task behaviour. The study was conducted in each student’s classroom and two additional non-classroom settings. A concurrent multiple baseline design across participants was employed. Intervention data for the first student showed a reduction in problem behaviour and an increase in engaged time. Intervention data are not available for the second and third students, and, as a result, a functional relation was not documented. A social validity measure was administered once to the first student, his teacher and his mother. Social validity ratings indicated that the mindfulness practice’s goals, procedures and outcomes were viewed as socially valid. It is anticipated that results for the second and third students will demonstrate, as well, a decline in problem behaviour and an increase in engaged time in classroom and non-classroom settings.

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Teaching parents to promote language use of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders within family routines using enhanced milieu teaching (2013)

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often do not acquire language naturally within ecological systems (i.e., parent-child interaction in daily routines); therefore some of these children have significant delays in social communication skills. Language interventions such as discrete-trial teaching procedures, the verbal behavior approach, and naturalistic language teaching approaches have been developed to improve language use among children with ASD. However, few research studies have examined the generalization and maintenance effects of language intervention implemented by parents on child’s communication skills across natural family routines. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of a language intervention model that synthesizes three theoretical frameworks, enhanced milieu language teaching (EMT), general case programming principles, and the activity setting (i.e., daily or weekly routine) as a unit of analysis and intervention for promoting generalized language use by young children with ASD. The study employed an empirical case study design with one parent-child dyad. Parent training was presented in a two-day workshop. Results showed improvements in parent use of EMT and in child use of language in indirectly trained and non-trained (i.e., generalization) family routines in the home. These improvements maintained at one and two months post-intervention. The results are discussed with reference to previous research, contributes, future directions, and implications for practitioners and researchers who are involved in language promotion interventions.

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Culturally Responsive, Family-Centered Positive Behaviour support with a Taiwanese Family of a Child with Autism in Two Home Settings (2012)

Many studies have documented the effectiveness of positive behaviour support (PBS) as an empirical approach to supporting families of children with autism who engage in problem behaviour; however, there remains little research to date on supporting families of different cultural and linguistic backgrounds. The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of a culturally responsive, family-centered PBS approach to intervention on child problem behaviour and participation within two valued family routines, for a child with autism in a family of a diverse cultural and linguistic background. A quasi-experimental multiple baseline design across two routines was used to investigate the association between implementation of the intervention approach and child behaviour and routine participation. In addition, qualitative case study methods were employed to help gain a deeper understanding of the family’s cultural perspectives related to the design and implementation of a PBS plan and of the interventionist’s perspectives on providing behavioural services aimed at cultural responsivity. Quantitative results displayed evidence of two basic effects, in that substantial improvement in child behaviour and routine participation occurred at the point of intervention in both the dinner and sibling play routines. Qualitative results revealed five themes important to providing culturally responsive, family-centered PBS to a family of a diverse cultural and linguistic background. Global measures of child and family functioning also provided evidence of further positive outcomes associated with the intervention process, in terms of improvements in child behavioural and emotional functioning, family quality of life and parental stress as reported by the child’s mother, and family cohesion and flexibility as reported by the child’s father. All results are discussed in terms of contributions to the literature, implications for practice, cautions and limitations, and directions for future research.

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Investigating the survivability of an ecological, family-centered positive behaviour intervention with a family of a child with a developmental disability and problem behaviour (2012)

The purpose of this study was to replicate the work of Lucyshyn et al. (2011) and Binnendyk (2009) by investigating the survivability of an intervention based upon an ecological, family-centered positive behaviour support approach to assessment and intervention. The approach integrates child behaviour, parent-child interaction, and family activity settings into an ecological unit of analysis aimed at improving child behaviour, parent-child relationships, and promoting meaningful changes in the functioning of the family. One family of a child with autism and problem behaviour participated. Two home-based family routines were targeted for assessment and intervention. A quasi-experimental, multiple baseline design across two family routines was used to evaluate the association between implementation of the intervention and child behaviour. Results documented substantial improvements at the point of intervention in child problem behaviour and routine steps successfully completed in the two family routines. These improvements maintained up to 8 months post-intervention. Sequential analysis methods were used to examine changes in parent-child interaction across baseline and intervention conditions. Results offer robust, categorical evidence of the transformation of coercive processes of parent-child interaction into constructive processes of interaction following implementation of the intervention. Social validity and goodness-of-fit results indicated that the intervention was acceptable and contextually appropriate within the ecology of the family. A high level of parent implementation fidelity was sustained across the intervention and follow-up phases. Despite positive outcomes, meaningful improvements in family functioning were not reported. Results are discussed in terms of contributions and relationship to the literature, implications, cautions and limitations, and future research.

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A Family Centred, Positive Behaviour Support Approach to Sleep Problems in a Child with Autism (2011)

Parents of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) report a significantly higher frequency and severity of sleeping problems than typically developing children and children with other disabilities. Sleeping problems most commonly reported include difficulties with sleep onset, maintenance, irregular sleep routines, and co-sleeping. A number of studies have used behavioural interventions to treat such sleeping problems. However, a number of methodological limitations have been identified with such studies. Additionally, there are a number of other clinical limitations that may affect the acceptability, meaningfulness, and sustainability of treatment outcomes. A Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) approach to behavioural interventions has been identified in the research as a viable approach to address such outcomes. This study evaluated an approach to behavioural intervention that synthesized evidence-based practices in PBS and the treatment of sleep problems in children with ASD. This study investigated the effectiveness of a parent-implemented PBS plan to improve the sleep problems of a child with ASD during a bedtime routine. A 4-year-old child with a diagnosis of ASD and his mother participated in the study. The study employed a single-subject case study design, using a multiple probe strategy. Results indicated improvements in child sleep behaviour and participation during the bedtime routine following implementation of the PBS intervention. The results are discussed with reference to previous research, unique contributions to the literature, future directions, and implications for practitioners and researchers who are involved in interventions for children with ASD and sleep problems.

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A family-centered positive behavior support approach for a child with autism and an anxiety disorder (2010)

A large proportion of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) also experience anxiety-related problem behavior. This study evaluated an approach to behavioral family intervention that synthesized evidence-based practices in Positive Behavior Support (PBS) and the treatment of anxiety disorders in children. The study empirically investigated the effectiveness and acceptability of the integrated approach for ameliorating the anxiety-related problem behavior of a child with autism and an anxiety disorder in a community-based swimming routine. A 4-year-old child with the dual diagnosis of autism and an anxiety disorder, and her mother, who also had an anxiety disorder, participated in the study. The study employed an experimental, single-subject, changing criterion design and a case study time-series design, using a multiple-probe strategy. Results were constrained by the parent’s conditional withdrawal from the study during the intervention phase. A functional relationship was not documented but the approach was correlated with improvement in child participation in the swimming routine along the anxiety hierarchy. The intervention also was associated with a decrease in percentage of intervals of problem behavior but no improvements were observed in latency in minutes to termination or successful completion of the routine or in steps completed in the routine. Parent treatment fidelity data indicated that the parent implemented the PBS support plan with a high degree of accuracy. The parent also rated the plan as being socially valid and contextually appropriate. Results are discussed with reference to previous research, contributions to the literature, future directions, and implications for practitioners and researchers who are involved in interventions for children with ASD and anxiety-related problem behavior.

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