Working for an ABA Therapy company means being a healthcare worker and continuing to work through this pandemic. Despite the kids I work with being out of school and not having a normal schedule, me showing up for therapy sessions still provides them some sense of normalcy. For one of my kids, part of therapy is working on memory recall.
This kid is in their teens and has a very interesting memory; at least I think so. They are able to recall events that happened a long time ago, weeks to years in the past, when the event either had a major impact on them (understandable) or something trivial happened, such as someone tripped over a curb. On the other hand, this teen has difficulty recalling events when given a retrieval cue, such as asking what they did last week/yesterday/earlier in the day. For instance, we set weekly goals and every week we go over if the prior week’s goal was met or not. When we went over last week’s goal and they were telling me why they did not meet the goal, I became extremely confused. Once I started following along, I realized they were explaining why they did not meet the week befores’ goal. I was able to help them figure out why they didn’t complete last week’s goal by breaking down a series of questions I had formed (from being confused) into yes/no questions. Simplifying the questions seemed to make it much easier for them to provide a more accurate answer. Also, having a parent present to help confirm things was a big help!
Since I am still relatively new to the field, I’m not sure what the literature says about the relation between recall and ASD. After learning about memory in this class and experiencing similar recall trouble with another client, I wanted to look further into it.
Research has shown people with ASD tend to recall less autobiographical memories than do people in control groups, suggesting there may be a personal episodic memory deficit related to the encoding process for long-term retention. In the study by Crane and Goddard (2007) 30 subjects were examined (15 experimental, 15 control). All subjects in the experimental group had a diagnosis of ASD and had been diagnosed in adulthood. Subjects first took an IQ test and then had an episodic and semantic autobiographical memory interview. Then subjects underwent an autobiographical fluency task to generate various memories. Next, they took an episodic memory narrative task to examine personal episodic memories further. Subjects were then asked for specificity. This tested to see if the subject would generate a specific autobiographical memory pertaining to one particular day, a general memory, or fail to retrieve a memory. Sensory elements related to the narratives were assessed as were the self versus other. The study found a personal episodic memory deficit in the ASD group on the autobiographical fluency task and the episodic memory narrative task; however, they found no correlations between ASD and semantic memory deficits.
As someone who works with people who are diagnosed with ASD, I find this research extremely interesting. I’m so happy to have found a class that relates to everyday life and that I can actually apply in life. I think without this class, I still would find this teen’s memory interesting, but I don’t think I would have known what to look up nor would I have understood what I was reading about.
Article Link: https://thegoddardclinic.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/22_episodic-and-semantic-memory-copy.pdf (DOI 10.1007/s10803-007-0420-2)