Podcast: A 2022 Day of Learning Quickie

This year’s Day of Learning was a huge success, with topics ranging from biological sex differences to mobile technologies all the way to the importance and documented value of leisure activities in people on the spectrum. the speakers included a discussion of the IACC, sex differences, the value of prevalence data, mobile technologies, leisure activities, and a recognition of two advocates who made or make a difference in families: Samantha Els and Suzanne Wright. Listen to this week’s podcast here for a quickie, but don’t let it prevent you from watching the longer videos, a link to which can be found below.

2022 Day of Learning presentations in full



Purpose Reading involves the ability to decode and draw meaning from printed text. Reading skill profiles vary widely among learners with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). One fairly common pattern is relative strength in decoding combined with weak comprehension skills-indicators of this profile emerge as early as the preschool years. In order for children with ASD to develop a facility with language that prepares them for reading success, practitioners must intentionally create and provide appropriate instruction practices. Method In this tutorial, we describe ways in which practitioners can support language development and comprehension skills for children with ASD within the context of shared reading activities. We begin by providing known information about the reading performance of children with ASD using the Simple View of Reading as our guiding conceptual framework. Next, we present a number of practical, evidence-based strategies that educators can implement within the context of shared book reading activities. Case studies are embedded throughout the tutorial to demonstrate how practitioners may apply these strategies in their instructional settings. Conclusions Shared book reading interventions are a well-studied, developmentally appropriate approach for bringing about change in language and literacy in early childhood. The success of shared reading depends upon rich communication and interaction between the adult reader and the child. Many children with ASD will require strategies to support social communication and emergent literacy skill development (e.g., vocabulary knowledge, language comprehension) that are specifically linked to future reading comprehension.

The Pandemic has required teachers to find ways to provide high-quality instruction in a virtual format. Video-based instruction (VBI) is a version of technology-aided instruction that has been effectively used in classrooms to improve mathematical outcomes for students with disabilities. This manuscript describes how a special education teacher can utilized VBI through free online platforms (i.e., SeeSaw, Loom) to implement a mathematical problem solving instructional strategy (modified schema-based instruction; MSBI) for students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) while at home. MSBI utilizing VBI has successfully been used by teachers and researchers to improve additive and multiplicative problem solving skills for students with ASD. This manuscript describes how special education teachers can support students and their caregivers by providing high-quality problem solving instruction in a virtual environment.

Background: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by primary difficulties in social function. Individuals with ASD display slowed neural processing of faces, as indexed by the latency of the N170, a face-sensitive event-related potential. Currently, there are no objective biomarkers of ASD useful in clinical care or research. Efficacy of behavioral treatment is currently evaluated through subjective clinical impressions. To explore whether the N170 might have utility as an objective index of treatment response, we examined N170 before and after receipt of an empirically validated behavioral treatment in children with ASD. Method: Electroencephalography (EEG) data were obtained on a preliminary cohort of preschool-aged children with ASD before and after a 16-week course of PRT and in a subset of participants in waitlist control (16-weeks before the start of PRT) and follow-up (16-weeks after the end of PRT). EEG was recorded while participants viewed computer-generated faces with neutral and fearful affect. Results: Significant reductions in N170 latency to faces were observed following 16 weeks of PRT intervention. Change in N170 latency was not observed in the waitlist-control condition. Conclusions: This exploratory study offers suggestive evidence that N170 latency may index response to behavioral treatment. Future, more rigorous, studies in larger samples are indicated to evaluate whether the N170 may be useful as a biomarker of treatment response.

Keywords: N170; autism spectrum disoder; biomarker; electroencephalography; pivotal response treatment.

Despite reports have noted that children severely affected by autism spectrum disorder (ASD) appear to have been understudied. Rigorous analysis of this observation has been limited, and the representation of severity has not been well-described. We assessed three domains of severity (communication ability, cognitive functioning, and adaptive functioning) in 367 treatment studies of children with ASD published 1991-2013. We found that the proportion of studies that included the severely affected population decreased significantly over time, as well as wide variability in measurement and reporting. Inadequate representation of the full autism spectrum in the literature could lead to an unbalanced picture of ASD and leave behind those with arguably the greatest need.

OBJECTIVE: Many states with mandates requiring commercial insurers to cover autism spectrum disorder (ASD) health services specify upper age limits above which coverage is no longer mandated. It is unknown what effects these age caps have on health service use and spending among adolescents who have exceeded the age cap.

METHOD: Using administrative claims data from 3 national commercial insurers, a difference-in-differences approach was used to estimate effects of age caps on health service use and spending among adolescents with ASD. Statistical models compared changes in use and spending between those above versus below the age cap among individuals eligible versus ineligible for mandated coverage. The analytic sample included data from 2008 through 2012 on 7,845 individuals (151,976 person-months) ages 10 to 21 years in 11 states imposing mandate age caps going into effect during adolescence.

RESULTS: Age caps were associated with 4.2 percentage point (95% CI = -7.0, -1.5) lower probability of any ASD-specific service use in a month and $69 less (95% CI = -112, -$26) in average monthly spending on ASD-specific services than would have been expected given concomitant pre-post age cap differences among individuals in the same states who were never eligible for mandate-covered services. In addition, age caps were associated with $99 (95% CI = -$168, -$30) lower average monthly spending on all health care services.

CONCLUSION: Insurance mandates that include age caps going into effect during adolescence reduce health service use and spending among individuals with ASD during a critical phase of the life course.

2011University of California Santa BarbaraJessica BradshawRobert Koegel

2013University of California San DiegoJessica Suhrheinrich

Preschoolers with severe autism and minimal speech were assigned either a discrete trial or a naturalistic language treatment, and parents of all participants also received parent responsiveness training. After 12 weeks, both groups showed comparable improvement in number of spoken words produced, on average. Approximately half the children in each group achieved benchmarks for the first stage of functional spoken language development, as defined by Tager-Flusberg et al. (J Speech Lang Hear Res, 52: 643-652, 2009). Analyses of moderators of treatment suggest that joint attention moderates response to both treatments, and children with better receptive language pre-treatment do better with the naturalistic method, while those with lower receptive language show better response to the discrete trial treatment. The implications of these findings are discussed.

2012Kennedy Krieger InstituteKlaus LibertusRebecca Landa