What’s this project about?
This study aimed to evaluate whether a cognitive behavioural intervention, Secret Agent Society: Operation Regulation, could help youth with neurodevelopmental disabilities cope with their emotions and handle the day-to-day stressors in their lives. By neurodevelopmental disability, we mean a diagnosis of autism, a learning disability, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or cerebral palsy.
How did we go about doing this project?
Participating involved weekly 1-hour visits to York University, where eligible families met with a trained therapist for one-on-one therapy. Youth engaged in an assortment of activities and played games (e.g., computer games, problem-solving tasks, and role-playing). The activities are aimed to help build emotion regulation skills.
Families also participated in research to evaluate the effectiveness of the program.
Our Secret Agent Society: Operation Regulation (SAS:OR) Program team were clinical-developmental psychology trainees, post-doctoral fellows, and research assistants.
Who was involved?
Our project started recruitment in January 2017. Youth between 8 and 13 years of age with a formal NDD diagnosis of autism, learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, cerebral palsy, or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Children needed to have at least average language skills and intellectual ability and needed to be interested in working on emotions with a therapist. Families needed to be able to participate for 10 consecutive weekly sessions at York.
What will we do with our research findings?
The results of this study will provide us with an understanding of emotion regulation processes for individuals with NDD, and help us to improve the intervention. Results of this study may also lead to a reduction of youth’s levels of negative emotions. We will write an article summarizing our findings to submit to an academic journal, present the results at national and international conferences, and create a summary of our findings to post on this website.
Want to know more about this project?
Thank you to all the families who participated in the SAS:OR Program!
This project is supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the York Research Chair in Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disability Mental Health.