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Research by Topic: School-Aged
This week’s podcast combines two important post Mother’s Day topics – parents and eating. Two recent studies have shown the promise of using parent – delivered interventions to help improve food selectivity and food aversions in kids with autism. These two behaviors can be one of the most frustrating and challenging for parents and kids, […]
This year’s Day of Learning included two presentations on the use of technology among people with autism. As it turns out, technology can be great. In fact, a new study using Google Glass shows promise in improving socialization. On the other hand, sometimes technology can have a downside. People with autism spend more time than […]
This week is focused on what happens in schools, including classification, service receipt and new interventions. How an educational classification translates to a clinical diagnosis, how and what factors are important in receiving services, what teachers think about repetitive behaviors and finally, a new intervention that can be delivered by therapists in school or mental […]
Caregiver Burden as People with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder Transition into Adolescence and Adulthood in the United KingdomPublished September 8, 2015 in J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry
This study conducted an observational study of 192 families caring for a young person (aged 14 to 24 years) with a childhood diagnosis of ASD or ADHD (n = 101 and n = 91, respectively) in the United Kingdom. A modified stress-appraisal model was used to investigate the correlates of caregiver burden as a function of family background (parental education), primary stressors (symptoms), primary appraisal (need), and resources (use of services).
This study systematically reviewed evidence regarding vocational interventions for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) between the ages of 13 and 30 years.
Teacher-Implemented Joint Attention Intervention: Pilot Randomized Controlled Study for Preschoolers with AutismPublished August 8, 2015 in J Consult Clin Psychol
This study investigated the effectiveness of public preschool teachers implementing a validated intervention (the Joint Attention and Symbolic Play/Engagement and Regulation intervention; JASP/ER) on a core deficit of autism, initiating joint attention.
Making the Connection: Randomized Controlled Trial of Social Skills at School for Children with Autism Spectrum DisordersPublished April 8, 2015 in J Child Psychol Psychiatry
This study compared two interventions for improving the social skills of high functioning children with autism spectrum disorders in general education classrooms. One intervention involved a peer-mediated approach (PEER) and the other involved a child-assisted approach (CHILD).
A Randomized Controlled Trial of Preschool-Based Joint Attention Intervention for Children with AutismPublished January 8, 2015 in J Child Psychol Psychiatry
Assess the effects of a preschool-based Joint Attention (JA)-intervention.
Services for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Three Large Urban School Districts: Perspectives of Parents and Educators.Published September 5, 2014 in Autism
Researchers from Philadelphia, LA and Rochester addresses issues that is on the mind of every parent of a child with autism: What can I expect when my child with ASD enters school? The group interviewed parents, teachers and administrators in schools and asked them what their greatest challenges were, in hopes of identifying ways to address those problems. Across all three cities and across all the different groups some common themes emerged: first, the analysis identified and documented that there was underlying tension between all the groups. Parents were frustrated with the school system and some of the systems in place. Teachers also expressed frustration with the administrators and the system in general. Also, while need for training was identified, what was surprising was that everyone thought it was needed. Teachers thought it was needed for themselves, for their teachers aids, and even the administrators wanted to get in on the action. Finally, parents, teachers and administrators felt that there needs to be a cultural shift to support the idea of inclusion, rather than exclusion.
Peer solicitation a child inviting another to play can improve reciprocal social interaction among children with autism, according to a recent Vanderbilt University study. While the children with autism in the study initiated and engaged in less play overall than typically developing children, the researchers found that other children can facilitate and increase interactions by simple requests. These findings highlight the pivotal role that peers have in social interaction, noting that it only takes a single child to prompt other children with or without autism to interact.
Children with autism and average IQs consistently demonstrated superior math skills compared with nonautistic children in the same IQ range, according to a study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.
Dr. Peter Gerhardt of the McCarton School joined us for a live chat. He answered several questions about employment, safety and sexual education in relation to teenagers and adults with autism.
A recent pilot study linked the JASPER intervention (Joint Attention Symbolic Play Engagement and Regulation) to core deficit improvement in minimally verbal 3 to 5 year olds with autism.
Researchers at Kennedy Krieger examined prevalence and predictors of language attainment in severely language-delayed children with ASD. 70% of the sample attained phrase speech and 47% attained fluent speech at or after age 4, indicating that later gains in language are likely in toddlers with severely delayed language. Children with high nonverbal intelligence and high levels of social interest and engagement were most likely to attain language. ASD-related features such as repetitive and sensory behaviors were not associated with language attainment.
Children with ASD showed increased positive social behaviors in the presence of guinea pigs compared to toys in this new PLOS One study. Specifically, they showed more social approach behaviors (e.g. talking, looking at faces and making tactile contact) and positive affect (e.g. laughing and smiling), and less self-focused behaviors in the presence of animals.
Oxytocin and Vasopressin in Children and Adolescents With Autism Spectrum Disorders: Sex Differences and Associations With SymptomsPublished February 14, 2013 in Autism Research and Treatment
Following positive results of treatment studies using oxytocin (OT) and evidence of genetic variations in the OT-arginine vasopressin (AVP) pathway in individuals with ASD, a new study from UC Berkeley further examines the involvement of OT and AVP in ASD. Results suggest levels of OT in individuals with ASD may not be as low as previously believed. Moreover, the researchers found significant gender differences, including higher levels of OT in girls and higher levels of AVP in boys.
Researchers examine parent-child dyads during structured and free play and find that that joint engagement lasts longer when parents engage their child at or slightly above the child’s current level of play. Parents of children with autism often find it difficult to estimate their child’s level, which can result in parents engaging at too high of a level and shortening the interaction.
Feeding Problems and Nutrient Intake in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Meta-analysis and Comprehensive Review of the LiteraturePublished February 1, 2013 in Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Children with ASD experience more feeding problems compared to their typical peers, such as unusual eating patterns, food rituals and or/refusals, but are not at a greater risk for compromised growth. Researchers attribute this finding to the fact that while children with ASD tend to consume enough food to meet their gross energy needs, their diet often suffers from nutritional deficits.
Familiarity Breeds Support: Speech-language Pathologists Perceptions of Bullying of Students with Autism Spectrum DisordersPublished January 31, 2013 in Journal of Communication Disorders
According to this study, school-based speech language pathologists may be an untapped resource in the fight against bullying of children with ASD.
Not surprisingly, research shows that when the interests of adolescents with ASDs are incorporated into school activities, these students display higher levels of engagement and are more likely to initiate interactions with their typical peers.
Sleep Disruption as a Correlate to Cognitive and Adaptive Behavior Problems in Autism Spectrum DisordersPublished January 28, 2013 in October 1, 2012
This study examines the effects of sleep problems on daytime cognitive and adaptive functioning in children with ASD.
The Association Between Bullying and the Psychological Functioning of Children with Autism Spectrum DisordersPublished January 2, 2013 in PubMed
A new study finds that children with ASD are more likely to be bullied compared to their typical peers. Children with ASD with an additional clinical or educational disorder have an increased risk of being bullied and becoming bullies themselves.
Anxiety, Sensory Over-responsivity, and Gastrointestinal Problems in Children with Autism Spectrum DisordersPublished January 1, 2013 in Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Anxiety, sensory processing problems and gastrointestinal (GI) issues occur frequently in children with ASD. This study examines the relationship between the three and finds that sensory over-responsivity and anxiety are highly associated and linked to GI problems.
Emergency room visits for children with ASD are more likely to be for psychiatric reasons than visits from typically developing children. Having private insurance increases the risk of a psychiatric ER visit for children with ASD, possibly due to the exclusion of ASD as a coverable diagnosis among many private insurance plans.
According to this recent meta-analysis of fMRI studies, autism-related changes in brain activity may continue to develop with age.
Neonatal Levels of Cytokines and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorders: An Exploratory Register-based Historic Birth Cohort Study Utilizing the Danish Newborn Screening BiobankPublished November 15, 2012 in Journal of Neuroimmunology
“The aim of the study was to analyze cytokine profiles in neonatal dried blood samples (n-DBSS) retrieved from The Danish Newborn Screening Biobank of children developing Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) later in life and controls. Samples of 359 ASD cases and 741 controls were analyzed using Luminex xMAP technology and clinical data were retrieved from nationwide registers. Findings showed that children developing ASD were more likely to have decreased levels of both T helper-1(Th-1)-like cytokines (i.e. IFN-?) and Th-2like cytokines (i.e. IL-4, IL-10) which may suggest a depressed or hypoactive immune cell activity during neonatal period in ASD.”
Application of DSM-5 Criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder to Three Samples of Children with DSM-IV Diagnoses of Pervasive Developmental DisordersPublished October 1, 2012 in The American Journal of Psychiatry
“OBJECTIVE: Substantial revisions to the DSM-IV criteria for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) have been proposed in efforts to increase diagnostic sensitivity and specificity. This study evaluated the proposed DSM-5 criteria for the single diagnostic category of autism spectrum disorder in children with DSM-IV diagnoses of pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs) and non-PDD diagnoses.CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that most children with DSM-IV PDD diagnoses would remain eligible for an ASD diagnosis under the proposed DSM-5 criteria. Compared with the DSM-IV criteria for Asperger’s disorder and PDD-NOS, the DSM-5 ASD criteria have greater specificity, particularly when abnormalities are evident from both parents and clinical observation.”
A Stable Pattern of EEG Spectral Coherence Distinguishes Children with Autism From Neuro-typical Controls – A Large Case Control StudyPublished June 26, 2012 in BMC Medicine
“BACKGROUND: The autism rate has recently increased to 1 in 100 children. Genetic studies demonstrate poorly understood complexity. Environmental factors apparently also play a role. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies demonstrate increased brain sizes and altered connectivity. Electroencephalogram (EEG) coherence studies confirm connectivity changes. However, genetic-, MRI- and/or EEG-based diagnostic tests are not yet available. The varied study results likely reflect methodological and population differences, small samples and, for EEG, lack of attention to group-specific artifact.RESULTS: Total sample PCA [principal components analysis] of coherence data identified 40 factors which explained 50.8% of the total population variance. For the 2- to 12-year-olds, the 40 factors showed highly significant group differences (P < 0.0001). Ten randomly generated split half replications demonstrated high-average classification success (C, 88.5%; ASD, 86.0%). Still higher success was obtained in the more restricted age sub-samples using the jackknifing technique: 2- to 4-year-olds (C, 90.6%; ASD, 98.1%); 4- to 6-year-olds (C, 90.9%; ASD 99.1%); and 6- to 12-year-olds (C, 98.7%; ASD, 93.9%). Coherence loadings demonstrated reduced short-distance and reduced, as well as increased, long-distance coherences for the ASD-groups, when compared to the controls. Average spectral loading per factor was wide (10.1 Hz)."
“OBJECTIVE: The goal of this study was to describe the typical longitudinal developmental trajectories of social and communication functioning in children with autism and to determine the correlates of these trajectories.RESULTS: Six typical patterns of social, communication, and repetitive behavior functioning were identified. These trajectories displayed significant heterogeneity in developmental pathways, and children whose symptoms were least severe at first diagnosis tended to improve more rapidly than those severely affected. “
“OBJECTIVE: To determine whether the relationships between behavioral phenotypes and clinical diagnoses of different autism spectrum disorders vary across 12 university-based sites.CONCLUSION: Clinical distinctions among categorical diagnostic subtypes of autism spectrum disorders were not reliable even across sites with well-documented fidelity using standardized diagnostic instruments. Results support the move from existing subgroupings of autism spectrum disorders to dimensional descriptions of core features of social affect and fixated, repetitive behaviors, together with characteristics such as language level and cognitive function.”