a. *, ** represent p < 0.05, p < 0.01 respectively.
(p < 0.05) between the CARS scores of Group I and Group II in eight items (Relating to People, Emotional Response, Object Use, Adaptation to Change, Fear and Nervousness, Verbal Communication, Nonverbal Communication, Activity Level). That is, it was shown that something unusual felt by the rater compared with the standard children of the same age is specifically reflected in the above 8 items. We excluded General Expressions here because it was a classification criterion for grouping.
3.2. Inter-Item Correlations
We calculated Spearman’s rank correlation coefficients from the CARS scores of each student item by item in order to examine inter-item correlations and extracted items showing positive correlation with other items (r > 0.4, p < 0.05).
As Table 2 shows, Adaptation to Change was correlated with other seven items, and Relating to People, and Activity Level had correlation with other six items of the 14 items excluding General Expressions. In addition, positive correlations were found between Object Use and Body Use (r = 0.607, p = 0.000), and Imitation and Nonverbal Communication (r = 0.492, p = 0.001). The strongest positive correlation was detected between Relating to People and Emotional Response (r = 0.756, p = 0.000). Listening Response and Level and Consistency of Intellectual Functioning had no correlation with other items.
4.1. Selection of Essential Items to Grasp the Autistic Characteristics of the Trainees with Intellectual Disabilities in Agricultural Vocational Training
We will consider essential items to grasp the autistic characteristics of the trainees with intellectual disabilities in agricultural vocational training from the two perspectives: One is that the items are easily assessed in the ordinary settings of agricultural vocational training and effectively detect specific autistic characteristics of the trainee, and the other is that the items contribute to know the trainee’s aptitude for agricultural tasks.
4.1.1. Required Observation Items at the First Meeting
In agricultural vocational training, trainees usually visit the site for training (i.e. farms or companies where they are going to take agricultural vocational training) in advance or on the day. There, after exchanging greetings or simple conversation, the trainees move to the agricultural field or work area to observe the work procedure, or start a task after receiving explanation about it. Therefore, it is convenient to be able to grasp roughly the trainee’s autistic characteristics in the scenes of greetings, conversations, moving to another location, and work.
Among the 8 items showing significant differences between the scores of Group I and Group II as a result of the Mann-Whitney’s U test (p < 0.05), assessable items from the scenes of greetings and conversation at the first meeting are 4 items (Relating to People, Verbal Communication, Nonverbal Communication
Table 2. Inter-item correlations among 14 itemsa of the CARS by Spearman’s rank correlation coefficients.
a. The item, General Impressions was excluded in the analysis. b. Bold-type numerical values indicate the items positively correlated with each other (r > 0.4; p < 0.05). c.*, ** represent p < 0.05, p < 0.01 respectively.
and Activity Level). The remaining 4 items (Emotional response, Object Use, Adaptation to Change and Fear and Nervousness) are difficult to observe in such situations that do not involve much movement like greetings and conversation.
Among the items indicating many positive correlations with other items (Adaptation to Change, Relating to People and Activity Level), the only item that can be assessed from greetings and conversations is Relating to People. Therefore, we selected Relating to People to required observation items at the first meeting in agricultural vocational training. Concerning Relating to People, Mesibov et al. (1989) remarked that “relationships with others did not show any improvement over time on the CARS”  .
4.1.2. Observation Items to Grasp the Trainee’s Aptitude for Agricultural Jobs
In acquiring the skills of agricultural jobs, regardless of presence or absence of intellectual disabilities, people imitate the instructor’s motions using the body and/or tools (or objects) after receiving verbal explanation and watching demonstration of the task. In their agricultural job analysis sheet for people with intellectual disabilities, Toyoda et al. (2016) mentioned that the items related to Body Use such as “necessary motions”, “working posture”, “use of both hands”, “dexterity” and those related to Object Use such as “tools, machines and materials” are particularly important for people with intellectual disabilities to work on agricultural jobs  . By reference to the sheet, we picked up Body Use, Object Use and Imitation which is a necessary ability to perform a task safely and correctly as required observation items to know the trainee’s aptitude for agricultural jobs. Furthermore, as Table 2 shows, a positive correlation was found between Body Use and Object Use (r = 0.607). If we narrow down the observation items to one, Body Use is considered to be more versatile because the item can be observed even in the scene where the trainee does not use tools. Eventually, we determined Body Use and Imitation as essential observation items to know the trainee’s aptitude for agricultural jobs.
4.1.3. Essential Observation Items Required for Farmers (or Instructors in Charge) Who Accept Agricultural Trainees
As the results of 4.1.2. and 4.1.3, we propose Relating to People, Body Use and Imitation as the essential observation items for farmers (or instructors) who accept agricultural trainees to grasp the trainee’s autistic characteristics and aptitude for agricultural tasks (Figure 1). These three items are defined as follows  :
• Relating to People: This is a rating of how the child behaves in a variety of situations involving interaction with other people.
• Body Use: This scale represents a rating of both coordination and appropriateness of body movements. It includes such deviations as posturing, spinning, tapping, and rocking, toe-walking, and self-directed aggression.
• Imitation: This rating is based on how the child imitates both verbal and nonverbal acts. Behavior to be imitated should clearly be within the child’s abilities. This scale is intended to be an assessment of ability to imitate, not ability to perform specific tasks or behaviors.
4.2. Relationship between Relating to People and Other Question Items
We validated the practicality of the item, Relating to People, as an indicator for grasping the participants’ autistic characteristics. First of all, we divided the participants into two groups according to the scores of Relating to People. One was the group of 20 participants whose score was 1 and the rater felt usual about the persons’ behavior (Group A: “usual”, 18 males and 2 females). The mean total score of Group A was 16.7 ± 1.2. The minimum total score was 15 and the
Figure 1. Relationship between scenes for grasping trainees’ autistic characteristics in agricultural vocational training and 14 observation items of the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) (excluding General Impressions).
maximum total score was 19. The other was that of 24 participants whose scores were 1.5 or over and the rater felt something unusual about the persons’ behavior (Group B: “unusual”, 19 males and 5 females). The mean total score of Group B was 22.6 ± 5.0. The minimum score was 16.5 and the maximum score was 35. Next, we compared the percentage of the participants whose behavior was felt unusual by the rater concerning items other than Relating to People between two groups (Table 3). We conducted the two-sided hypothesis testing for the difference in the population proportions (p < 0.05).
The results showed that the proportion of the participants who were rated as “unusual” was significantly higher in Group B (“unusual”) than Group A (“usual”) in 7 items (Emotional Response, Object Use, Adaptation to Change, Fear and Nervousness, Verbal Communication, Nonverbal Communication and Activity Level) (p < 0.05). Comparing these seven items with the six items in which Spearman’s rank correlation coefficients showed positive correlation with the score of Relating to People (except for General Impressions), 5 items were included in common: Emotional Response, Adaptation to Change, Fear and Nervousness, Verbal Communication and Activity Level. These results indicated that the observation of Relating to People has the potentiality to afford a clue to find other 5 autistic characteristics.
In this study, we proposed 3 major indicators (Relating to People, Body Use and Imitation) to be observed for grasping the trainees’ autistic characteristics when providing the agricultural vocational training of people with intellectual disabilities. This assessment makes it easy for farmers or instructors to roughly grasp
Table 3. Itemized comparison of the proportion of the participants who were rated as “unusual” between the two groups classified by the rating of Relating to People as a classification criterion.
a. Group A (“usual”) is a group whose rating of Relating to People was within the normal range1and Group B (“unusual”) is a group whose rating of Relating to People deviated from the normal range. b. *, **represent p < 0.05, p < 0.01 respectively.
autistic characteristics of the trainees who wish to take agricultural vocational training, especially when there is little information about the trainees with intellectual disabilities, such as at the first meeting or at the early stage of training.
We suggest that farmers or instructors should roughly grasp the autistic characteristics of each trainee by starting with observation of these 3 items, and in the course of training, gain better understanding of his/her other autistic characteristics. It is important to provide adequate agricultural tasks or support better suited to each trainee based on proper appreciation about his/her autistic characteristics.
Our findings will provide the following advantages to those who are going to provide agricultural vocational training for people with intellectual disabilities:
1) To reduce matching errors between trainees with intellectual disabilities and provided agricultural tasks.
2) To promote mutual understanding and the establishment of relationship of trust between the two.
3) To improve work safety and work efficiency.
This study is a summary of the results of research conducted from 2011 to 2015 in cooperation with the Hyogo Prefectural Government, Health and Welfare Department, Welfare Bureau for People with Disabilities, Division for the Support of People with Disabilities and Hyogo Social Welfare Corporation. We thank teachers, parents and students of a special needs education school, all the supporters of agricultural vocational training and concerned parties for cooperation.
Conflicts of Interest
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.
Cite this paper
Toyoda, M., Yokota, Y. and Kaneko, M. (2019) Application of the Childhood Autism Rating Scale to Grasp Autistic Characteristics of the Trainees with Intellectual Disabilities in Agricultural Vocational Training. Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science, 9, 301-312. https://doi.org/10.4236/jbbs.2019.98022