Category: Child / Adolescent - Anxiety
Williams syndrome (WS) is a neurogenetic disorder characterized by intellectual disability, a sociable personality, attention problems, and high rates of fears and anxiety that interfere significantly with daily life. There is no systematic research about the kinds of interventions that are most useful for children with WS to support optimal functioning. As part of a treatment development process, we conducted a pilot feasibility and acceptability study of Behavioral Play Therapy (BPT), an intervention grounded in cognitive-behavioral intervention for anxiety that may be suitable for use with young children with neurodevelopmental disorders. BPT includes the use of play and humor to facilitate exposure (Levine & Chedd, 2007; 2015) and has not yet been empirically validated. Participants were 2 typically developing children and 3 children with WS ages 4 through 8. Fears and anxieties included thunderstorms, hair brushing, loud noises, fireworks, and blood pressure measurement. The Treatment Acceptability Questionnaire (TAI; Hunsley, 1992) and the Treatment Evaluation Inventory Short Form (TEl-SF; Newton & Sturmey, 2014) were completed by parents following 1-2 sessions of BPT. On the TAI (item ratings range from 1 to 7), mean ratings were 6.80 for the ethical nature and knowledge of the treatment provider, 6.60 for the acceptability of the treatment, and 6.40 for the perceived effectiveness of treatment. On the TEI-SF (item ratings strongly disagree, disagree, neutral, agree, strongly agree) all parents agreed or strongly agreed the treatment is an acceptable way to deal with their child’s behavior and that they are willing to use the treatment to change their child’s behavior. Further, all parents agreed or strongly agreed that it is acceptable to use the treatment with individuals who cannot choose treatment for themselves. Three parents (60%) agreed or strongly agreed the child will experience discomfort during the treatment, while one parent disagreed, and one parent was neutral. Lastly, four parents (80%) agreed or strongly agreed the treatment is likely to result in permanent improvement while one parent noted the treatment is likely to result in permanent improvement only with consistent utilization of the treatment. BPT appears to be an acceptable intervention for families of young children, including children with WS. Further research about its efficacy is needed.
Bonnie Klein-Tasman– Professor, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Karen Levine– Psychologist, Helping Children with Challenges
Elizabeth Miecielica– Research Assistant, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
G Nathanael Schwarz– Graduate Student, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee