Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Melatonin in autism spectrum disorders: a systematic review andmeta-analysis.

Aim  The aim of this study was to investigate melatonin-related findings in autism spectrum disorders (ASD), including autistic disorder, Asperger syndrome, Rett syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorders, not otherwise specified. Method  Comprehensive searches were conducted in the PubMed, Google Scholar, CINAHL, EMBASE, Scopus, and ERIC databases from their inception to October 2010. Two reviewers independently assessed 35 studies that met the inclusion criteria. Of these, meta-analysis was performed on five randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled studies, and the quality of these trials was assessed using the Downs and Black checklist. Results  Nine studies measured melatonin or melatonin metabolites in ASD and all reported at least one abnormality, including an abnormal melatonin circadian rhythm in four studies, below average physiological levels of melatonin and/or melatonin derivates in seven studies, and a positive correlation between these levels and autistic behaviors in four studies. Five studies reported gene abnormalities that could contribute to decreased melatonin production or adversely affect melatonin receptor function in a small percentage of children with ASD. Six studies reported improved daytime behavior with melatonin use. Eighteen studies on melatonin treatment in ASD were identified; these studies reported improvements in sleep duration, sleep onset latency, and night-time awakenings. Five of these studies were randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover studies; two of the studies contained blended samples of children with ASD and other developmental disorders, but only data for children with ASD were used in the meta-analysis. The meta-analysis found significant improvements with large effect sizes in sleep duration (73min compared with baseline, Hedge’s g 1.97 [95% confidence interval {CI} CI 1.10–2.84], Glass’s Δ 1.54 [95% CI 0.64–2.44]; 44min compared with placebo, Hedge’s g 1.07 [95% CI 0.49–1.65], Glass’s Δ 0.93 [95% CI 0.33–1.53]) and sleep onset latency (66min compared with baseline, Hedge’s g−2.42 [95% CI −1.67 to −3.17], Glass’s Δ−2.18 [95% CI −1.58 to −2.76]; 39min compared with placebo, Hedge’s g−2.46 [95% CI −1.96 to −2.98], Glass’s Δ−1.28 [95% CI −0.67 to −1.89]) but not in night-time awakenings. The effect size varied significantly across studies but funnel plots did not indicate publication bias. The reported side effects of melatonin were minimal to none. Some studies were affected by limitations, including small sample sizes and variability in the protocols that measured changes in sleep parameters. Interpretation  Melatonin administration in ASD is associated with improved sleep parameters, better daytime behavior, and minimal side effects. Additional studies of melatonin would be helpful to confirm and expand on these findings.

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Studies Show New Video Game Helps Children with Autism Learn Skills forIndependence

CHARLOTTE, N.C., April 26, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- April is Autism Awareness month, and two studies, one published in the journal Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and one published in the journalEducation and Training in Developmental Disabilities, show a new video game helps children with autismand intellectual disabilities learn skills for independence. Small Steps, Big Skills is a new video game developed and researched with a grant from the U.S. Department of Education that combines Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) methods of video modeling and least to most prompting to teach 22 skills for independence.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Free Webcasts from PECS

Pyramid Educational Consultants are proud to announce the arrival of our new webcast series! Our webcasts incorporate slide show presentations and audio narration. Current titles include I am the Master of My Emotions and PECS and Skinner’s Verbal Behavior. I am the Master of my Emotions (45 minutes) In Pyramid’s second webcast, I am the Master of my Emotions, join Andy Bondy as he explores why many children, especially those with autism, have difficulty in acquiring language related to expressing emotions and identifying emotions in other people. Andy presents the information in a simple and conversational manner, enabling even the novice to grasp the concepts discussed.What You Will Begin To Learn: To describe how children typically learn to comment about "private events" The type of information adults respond to when teaching children to tell us about their emotions, and what may be missing for children with autism Why traditional approaches to teaching "the language of emotions" may not be effective and how they can be improved How to take advantage of existing emotional displays and how to create situations that are likely to induce such feelings Why it is not really easy to teach “really” Why it will be helpful to attend the full-day workshop, The Language of Emotions PECS and Skinner’s Verbal Behavior (60 minutes) In Pyramid’s first webcast, PECS and Skinner’s Verbal Behavior, join Andy Bondy and Lori Frost as they explore how the work of B.F. Skinner can help everyone better understand how language can be viewed from a behavioral perspective. The information is presented in a simple and conversational manner, enabling even the novice to grasp the concepts discussed. What You Will Learn: Define “verbal behavior” and “vocal” behavior Name the three antecedent conditions for verbal behavior List three primary verbal operants Analyze pure versus multiply controlled verbal operants.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Monday, April 11, 2011

Researchers track down autism rates across the globe

Because of stigma, lack of awareness about mental health and poor medical infrastructure, few autism prevalence studies exist outside of the U.S., Canada and the U.K. "Even though it seems like anybody and everybody has heard of autism, in many places in the world it's still sort of a new topic," says Charles Zaroff, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Macau in China. Zaroff and Grinker are part of a small but growing group of researchers charting autism in new territories. Rigorous autism screening studies are underway not only in South Korea, but in Mexico, India and South Africa. In the past year, prevalence estimates from Brazil1, Oman2 and Western Australia3 have been published in mainstream journals for the first time. Calculating prevalence is often the first step toward launching government and nonprofit mental health services in these countries. Numbers can also lead to scientific insights on the genetic, environmental and cultural underpinnings of autism. "It's been a big question for years to ask: Is there any difference across countries and across cultures in the rates of autism?" notes Eric Fombonne, professor of psychiatry at McGill University in Montreal, who has led autism epidemiological studies in a half-dozen countries.

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Effectiveness of virtual reality using Wii gaming technology inchildren with Down syndrome

Here is a big section of the discussion section of the paper. Basically, Standard Occupational Therapy (SOT) helps Down Syndrome (DS) kids do better on fine and gross motor skills. Using Virtual Reality Wii seems to help even more. Gotta love that. Of the two intervention groups, children who received VRWii therapy demonstrated the largest increase in post-intervention scores on the BOT-2 gross motor subtests. Significant improvement in gross motor function may be accounted for by the accumulated effects from a series of training steps that are structured, progressive, goal-directed, and interrelated. For instance, once the child initially learned to maintain equilibrium on VRWii Sports items, more challenging dynamic tasks such as jumping, striking and catching balls were introduced. VRWii could allow the child to interact with a computer-simulated environment and receive near real-time augmented feedback on performance. After mastering the VRWii tasks, the child was better able to use body feedback to understand the movement outcomes (feedback), anticipate upcoming events (feedforward), and plan alternative strategies (Brooks, 1986). Simultaneously, the child was encouraged to rely more on internal feedback and self-evaluation of performance than external feedback from others and environment. By adjusting the difficult level of Wii Sport items, more mature patterns of motor control emerged from better use of feedback and feedforward mechanisms

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Socioeconomic Status and the Increased Prevalence of Autism inCalifornia

Abstract The prevalence of autism has increased precipitously—roughly 10-fold in the past 40 years—yet no one knows exactly what caused this dramatic rise. Using a large and representative dataset that spans the California birth cohorts from 1992 through 2000, we examine individual and community resources associated with the likelihood of an autism diagnosis over time. This allows us to identify key social factors that have contributed to increased autism prevalence. While individual-level factors, such as birth weight and parental education, have had a fairly constant effect on likelihood of diagnosis over time, we find that community- level resources drive increased prevalence.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Last week was special in our house.Last week, my son turned five.So many of my posts are filled with how difficult life is for him. How his autism and sensory processing disorder cause everyday activities to be so challenging.Not today.While I had a corn-free cake cooking in the oven, I wrote down all the amazing things about my son. What makes him a rock star. And what makes me proud to be his mom. He has the most amazing giant brown eyes, and when he looks at you, you get lost in them. His passion for Hot Wheels cars is unmatched. He knows every single one that we have in the house. We have a lot. His memory is impeccable. Ask him what rides we did at Storyland last summer and he’ll tell you them all and where they are in the park. Ask him what happened at his birthday party last year when the lady forgot about our party and the doors were locked. Ask him where all the satellite dishes are in our town. His laugh is contagious. When he giggles, everyone else around starts giggling too. His teachers love him. Actually, any adult that has met him loves him. He draws you in immediately without any pretenses. And will call you on your crap in an instant. He loves his family above all else. He shows it with these giant squeezy hugs that go on forever and ever. He is always happy and positive, and willing to play at anything. He has the greatest names for things. Our recliner is “the green chair”. Pita bread is “the bread that we had at my friend Stevie’s party.” His imagination is amazing. He can create elaborate racetracks for his Hot Wheels cars and fantastic stories to go along with the track setup. He doesn’t exclude anyone, and will stand up for his friends when they are in trouble. Every kid in his class knows his name. He is totally rocking the 3T pants now. He yells at his older brother when he forgets to flush the toilet. His mind works in the most amazing ways, and has such a curiosity about life. He can stare for hours at the pipes in under our sink or at his school, and he’s actually thinking about where all the water goes and what happens to it after it leaves the pipes. He wanted to wait until his birthday to open his presents that arrived early because it wasn’t his actual birthday day. And that he wanted to thank the “mail lady” for delivering the package to him. Every night, as he’s falling asleep, I lay next to him in bed. And the last thing he says before he falls asleep is always “I love you, too, Mom.” And how have I changed in these five years? I’ve learned that patience is more than a virtue. It’s a skill that needs to be practiced over and over again. But the rewards are amazing. I no longer judge. Anyone. Ever. (or at least out loud) He’s shown me the beauty in the little things: to slow down for a walk to pick up an acorn or to take the long way home to hear the end of a song. He’s introduced me to some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. People who I want to have as friends. People who understand and accept us for us. I now celebrate the accomplishments in our own time, not because some book told us when it was supposed to happen. I try to use the words “child-appropriate”, instead of “age-appropriate”. I have learned that there’s nothing better than a hug out of love. He helped me find my voice – here on this blog and with other newly diagnosed parents. He’s shown me that the most important job we can have as a parent is to be our child’s best advocate. To speak for them when they cannot. And to fight to the end to get them the help they need. And above all else… He has made me a better wife, mother, and friend. I would not be the person I am today had this gift not entered my life five years ago. Happy Birthday to my little man.

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Monday, April 4, 2011

Who Will Care For Dana?

In many ways, Dana Eisman, 20, of Potomac, Md., is like any other young adult. She rocks out to Train, adores Glee, and eats pizza every week. And this June, like many of her peers, she?l leave school and join the real world.

But for Dana?nd her parents, Beth, who works in a doctor? office, and Rob, a business owner?hat prospect is terrifying. ? want to celebrate,?Beth says, ?ut what I feel is a knife in my heart.?lt;br />
That? because Dana is autistic. She can? hold a conversation, make eye contact, verbalize her thoughts, cross the street alone, or control herself when she? upset. Starting when she was 4?hanks to a federal law that guarantees disabled children an appropriate education?he has spent her weekdays at Ivymount, a private school for special-needs students that she loves and that has been paid for by the state and county. But because Dana turns 21 this week, that support will dry up when the school year ends, leaving her parents to agonize about the quality of life their daughter is facing.

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Autism Insurance Part One

The first installment in a series dedicated to the story of Brandon's Bill - the legislation that eventually became the Montana Autism Insurance Mandate in 2009.

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Review and Trailer for the movie: Loving Lamposts

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Friday, April 1, 2011

Autism Awareness Month: Best places to live if you have autism

April is Autism Awareness Month, and to kick off events, the advocacy group Autism Speaks is releasing results of its first online community survey on livability.The organization used the data to generate a list of places to live for people with autism, reporting the places most often cited by respondents for best availability of services and resources, including educational offerings and recreational and medical services.In the top 10 were, in no particular order: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Boston, Northern New Jersey, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Seattle and Milwaukee.The worst places -- the states generating the most negative responses -- included Texas, Virginia, Tennessee, Ohio, Florida, Michigan and (despite L.A.'s high ranking) California, according to a news release.Surveys came from 848 "members of the autism community" living in the lower 48 states and the District of Columbia. Seventy-four percent were generally unhappy with the availability of services for autism where they live, while 26% -- 220 people in all -- said they were generally happy.

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