Friday, November 29, 2013

Minimally verbal schoolchildren with autism gained spoken languagefaster when play-based therapy included speech-generating devices

Sixty children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) participated in the study. They ranged in age from 5 to 8 years and used fewer than 20 words at the start of therapy. The researchers measured their word use before, midway-through and after the six-month study. All the children participated in a play-based intervention that encouraged engagement with the therapist and the use of spoken language. To start, they received two, hour-long sessions per week. To measure the additional benefit of a speech-generating device, the researchers used it with half the children from the very start of therapy. (Speech-generating devices come in many forms, including iPads with special apps.) At the 3 month mark, the researchers measured the children’s progress. Those who were gaining language skills continued on course. The researchers added the communication device to the therapy of children who were responding slowly without it. Those who were progressing slowly even with the device received an extra hour of therapy per week.

 Read more here.

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

The 2013 Updated DSM-V Changes on Autism Made Simple

Reading up on the new DSM-V might confuse many parents of autistic children. As such, this article is meant to simplify some of the important changes that were made in the latest DSM-V update in May 2013, pertaining to the diagnosis of autism in children and adults. The full DSM-V Autism diagnostic criteria can be found on the Autism Speaks website catering to the community at large with factual and relevant information concerning the disorder.

 What are the changes?

 (Doug - A Note in this article states that those with a diagnosis of PDD-NOS must be re-evaluated. This is not correct.)

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Autism Often Accompanied By mixing Of The Senses'

Many with autism also experience a condition that causes unusual sensory triggers, a new study indicates, such that hearing music or seeing a color may conjure a taste or a smell. The condition known as synaesthesia involves people experiencing a “mixing of the senses.” Researchers report that it’s nearly three times as common in people with autism compared to those without. The finding — which the study authors said came as a surprise — offers new clues to understanding the biology of autism and the experiences of many with the developmental disorder. “I have studied both autism and synaesthesia for over 25 years and I had assumed that one had nothing to do with the other,” said Simon Baron-Cohen of the University of Cambridge, who led the study published Wednesday in the journal Molecular Autism. “These findings will re-focus research to examine common factors that drive brain development in these traditionally very separate conditions.”

 Read more here. 

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Large Study Supports GI Link to Problem Behaviors in Kids with Autism

A large new study on a diverse group of children supports earlier evidence that children with autism experience high rates of GI distress. The findings also linked this distress to more frequent behavior problems such as social withdrawal, irritability and hyperactivity. The study, funded in part by Autism Speaks, appears in this month’s Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. “This study brings forward evidence that adds further support to what parents have been telling the scientific community for years," says Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Rob Ring. “Gastrointestinal dysfunction in autism is real.” Last year, Autism Speaks-Autism Treatment Network helped develop the firsttreatment guidelines for managing GI disorders in children with autism. At medical conferences and community meetings, its clinicians have been urging doctors to look for and treat underlying medical conditions – including GI distress – that may be contributing to autism-related behaviors. This is especially important before considering any behavior-modifying medications, says Autism Speaks Vice President for Medical Research Paul Wang. “Whenever medical issues are exacerbating behavioral problems, treatment should be directed at the underlying root causes, rather than using psychoactive medications as Band-Aids,” he says. “Doctors taking care of these children should proactively evaluate them for these problems, especially since many of these young patients can’t communicate the pain and distress they feel.”

 Read more here. 

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Study Suggests Community Colleges Provide Advantages for Young Adultswith Autism

New research finds community colleges may play a particularly important role in fostering transition into productive lives for individuals on the autism spectrum. The findings appear this week in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. About one-third of all young adults with autism attend college in the years right after high school. The study analyzed attendance and graduation information on nearly 200 of them, using the National Longitudinal Transition Study for 2001 to 2009. Of those who had graduated or were still in college when the study ended, 81 percent had spent at least some time in a 2-year community college. What’s more, nearly half of students with autism who majored in science, technology, engineering or math in community college successfully transitioned to a four-year university. This was true of around a quarter of the students with autism who were majoring in non-science/tech fields. College students with autism who went straight into a 4-year college from high school did less well. Less than 20 percent had graduated or were on track to graduate when the study ended. The findings provide strong evidence that community colleges are an important pathway for many students with autism, says co-author Paul Shattuck. Dr. Shattuck studies life-course outcomes at Drexel University’s AJ Drexel Autism Center, in Philadelphia.

 Read more here. 

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Educating Chidren About Autism in an Inclusive Classroom

See the training manual here. 

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Employment Webinar

You are invited to join employment service provider colleagues in Colorado for a free event on Tuesday, 11/19/13 hosted as part of their membership in the State Employment Leadership Network (SELN)! The event is geared toward increasing competencies related to employer engagement. Event title: Building Strong Relationships with the Business Community We’ll focus on: · Marketing concepts · Developing a pitch · Building and sustaining a long-term relationship · The phases of employer engagement · Adding value to your organization’s bottom-line Two sessions are planned: 1. Tuesday, November 19, 2013 Target audience: Employment Service Providers- Agency directors, supervisory and management staff 2. Thursday, December 5, 2013 Target audience: Employment Service Providers- Frontline staff Additional details, presenter bio and registration links can be found in the attached flyer.

See more here:

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Resources for Educating Students about Peers with ASD

These are some online resources we pulled together for a teacher. Montana Autism Education Project staff are also available to provide trainings to general education teachers and peers. Contact Doug Doty at ddoty@mt.gov if you are interested in scheduling a training. a. AutismVision: Creating Classroom Connections for Children with Autism These are a series of videos + a presenter packet for explaining different types of autism to students of different ages. b. Some Extremely Reasonable Suggestions for “Typical” Parents, Family, and Teachers on Behalf of Kids With Asperger’s Syndrome c. How to Talk to an “Aspi” – Asperger’s, Autism, Labels, Stereotypes and Strategies d. What it's like to walk down a street when you have autism or an ASD e. Understanding Autism: A Guide for Secondary School Teachers f. The School Community g. Educating Children About Autism In An Inclusive Classroom

See here: 

 Some extremely reasonable Suggestions for "Typical " Parenting

How to talk to an "Aspi"-Asperger's, Autism. Stereotypes and strategies 

Video. What's it like to walk down the street with autism

Understanding Autism: A guide for secondary teachers

The school community

Educating children about Autism in an Inclusive Classroom:

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Jittery limb movements may predict autism subgroups

Tiny fluctuations in the limb movements of children with autism can predict the severity of their condition and track their response to treatments, according to two unpublished studies presented at the 2013 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego. Individuals with autism often have motor problems, ranging from clumsiness and imbalance to wobbly handwriting. But these symptoms historically have been neglected in scientific research. “In autism, movement hasn’t been put in the forefront because [people with the disorder] move: They can point, they can reach, they can grasp,” says Elizabeth Torres, assistant professor of psychology at Rutgers University in New Jersey, who led the new studies. But zooming in on the tiny changes in those motions reveals distinctive patterns, she says. “It’s actually a very rich signal that we can use to diagnose and treat.”

 Read more here.

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Bedroom TV, Video Games Linked to Less Sleep in Boys With Autism

Exposure to television and video games could play a role in the sleep problems of children with autism, new research suggests. Boys with the neurodevelopmental disorder who have TVs and game consoles in their bedrooms get less sleep than other boys with equal screen access, the study authors found. "If parents of children with autism are noticing that their child struggles with sleep, they might consider monitoring -- and perhaps limiting -- pre-bedtime exposure" to video games and TV.

 Read the rest of some seriously obvious research here. 

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Iodine deficiency in mothers of children with autism and their offspring

A recent paper by Rasha Hamza and colleagues* adds to the discussion in this area, observing that within a small cohort of mothers of children with autism and their offspring, over half of study participants were iodine deficient. Based on an analysis of Egyptian participants, findings for children with autism and their mothers found that 54% and 58% respectfully were deficient in iodine and further, levels of iodine were negatively associated with severity of autism in children as measured by the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS). The levels of deficiency reported contrasted with no cases of iodine deficiency reported for a control group also studied at the same time.

 Read more here. 

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RNA bits vary in social, auditory brain areas in autism

People with autism show differences from controls in the levels of microRNAs, small noncoding bits of RNA, in the social and sound-processing parts of the brain. Unpublished results from the postmortem study were presented Wednesday at the 2013 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego. MicroRNAs, or miRNAs, bind to messenger RNAs, which code for protein, and flag them for degradation. Each miRNA can interfere with the production of several proteins. For example, a 2011 study linked the lack of miR-125a to denser dendritic spines, the signal-receiving branches of neurons, and to higher levels of postsynaptic density-95, a protein associated with autism. Postmortem brain studies have shown that some miRNAs are expressed differently in the brains of people with autism.

 Read more here. 

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Gender Differences in the Relationship Between Social Communication andEmotion Recognition

Objective To investigate the association between autistic traits and emotion recognition in a large community sample of children using facial and social motion cues, additionally stratifying by gender. Method A general population sample of 3,666 children from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) were assessed on their ability to correctly recognize emotions using the faces subtest of the Diagnostic Analysis of Non-Verbal Accuracy, and the Emotional Triangles Task, a novel test assessing recognition of emotion from social motion cues. Children with autistic-like social communication difficulties, as assessed by the Social Communication Disorders Checklist, were compared with children without such difficulties. Results Autistic-like social communication difficulties were associated with poorer recognition of emotion from social motion cues in both genders, but were associated with poorer facial emotion recognition in boys only (odds ratio = 1.9, 95% CI = 1.4, 2.6, p = .0001). This finding must be considered in light of lower power to detect differences in girls. Conclusions In this community sample of children, greater deficits in social communication skills are associated with poorer discrimination of emotions, implying there may be an underlying continuum of liability to the association between these characteristics. As a similar degree of association was observed in both genders on a novel test of social motion cues, the relatively good performance of girls on the more familiar task of facial emotion discrimination may be due to compensatory mechanisms. Our study might indicate the existence of a cognitive process by which girls with underlying autistic traits can compensate for their covert deficits in emotion recognition, although this would require further investigation.

 Source.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Concern to Action Tool Kit

If you have a concern about how your child is communicating, interacting or behaving, you are probably wondering what to do next. The First Concern to Action Tool Kit can help you sort that out. The purpose of this tool kit is to provide you with specific resources and tools to help guide you on the journey from your first concern to action. The kit is also available in Spanish. The kit was developed to provide families of children under the age of five with: An overview of early child development; Guidance on what to do if you have a concern about your child's development; Information about obtaining an evaluation for your child's development and treatment options, if needed.

 Download the First Concern to Action Tool Kit or order a free hard copy here! 

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Autism and AAC: Five Things I Wish I Had Known

In the title of this post I’ve linked autism and AAC for a specific reason. A lot of the points here are equally applicable to people who have a different disability but my argument in this particular post is for ALL autistic people to have access to AAC, regardless of whether they can speak. Communication (not speech) must be priority number one When I think about autism “therapies”, a lot of them are focused on trying to force autistic children to become more typical – extinguishing problem behaviours and trying to ‘teach’ social skills, for example. In my opinion, any strategy that does not prioritize communication skills is not only bound to fail but it is also doing a huge disservice to the autistic person. How can an autistic child socialize with his peers if he can’t communicate with them? Why are we spending so much time suppressing behaviours instead of giving a child the means to tell us how she feels? Here’s an excerpt from a draft IEP that a parent shared with me:

 Read more here. 

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Archived Webcast - Autism and Bullying

Many parents of children with autism are well aware that their children are bullied at school, but more recent research suggests the problem is pervasive. One study found that 46% of middle and high school students with ASD have been bullied. By comparison, in the general adolescent population, an estimated 10% of children have been bullied. Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) experience difficulties in communication, interaction and imagination, and often find the social world difficult and confusing. Students with ASD struggle with social norms and relating to peers. This leads to children with ASD being picked on, tormented, and bullied. Research in public schools comparing kids with ASD to their peers finds that children with ASD are more likely to be rejected by their peers, receive less social support from their friends and classmates, spend more time alone at recess and lunch times, chat and play less with others, are verbally abused more often, are more likely to react aggressively and are three more times likely to be bullied. This webcast will discuss the ways bullying happens (from teasing to cyberbullying) and what can be done to help our children cope with bullying as well as strategies to address bullying.

 View the webinar here (brief registration required.)

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How Can I Develop Smart IEP Goals?

How Can I Develop SMART IEP Goals for Behavior Problems?

See here:

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Breastfeeding may prevent autism risk in kids

A new study has proposed that protein called insulin-like growth factor (IGF), which is delivered via breastfeeding, could help predict an infant's propensity to later develop autism. "By assessing our own research, along with dozens of other relevant studies, there is a strong case to be made that IGF - known to be deeply involved in the normal growth and development of babies' brain cells - also serves a biomarker for autism," said Dr. Steinman. "This leads to two conclusions. First, we need to more deeply assess this hypothesis by conducting umbilical cord blood tests that measure neonatal levels of this growth factor, and then match those results against future autism occurrence in the maturing child. "Second, those who embrace the hypothesis that IGF is indeed an autism biomarker should advocate and encourage breastfeeding as a highly accessible means of supplementing an infant's natural levels of the protein." If a newborn's innate supply of IGF were found to be low, Steinman said, the infant could receive supplemental amounts of the protein - via breastfeeding or through other relatively simple means - that could then contribute to more-effective brain function as the baby develops into an active child. The study is published in journal Medical Hypotheses.

 Source. 

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Limitations Apparent in Applied Behavior Analysis Research

We at Autism Daily Newscast were not surprised at the strong reaction to the recent BBC4 documentary ‘Autism: Challenging Behaviour’ that aired earlier this week. We had been reviewing various conversations on ABA in Facebook groups and other chats. We assigned one of our journalists to report on the current state of ABA in the USA. This is the first in a series of three which will cover the following topics. 1. A brief research review that shows the research on ABA therapy does involve flawed research designs2. Staffing issues and inconsistent regulation of ABA providers in the United States and efforts to improve consistency.3. Difficulties in insurance coverage in the US for ABA therapy even under the new Affordable Care Act regulations

 Read Part 1 here. 

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More neural connections, not fewer, seen in studies

The brains of children with autism have a higher-than-normal number of connections, and this may be a reason for these kids' social difficulties, according to two new studies. These findings challenge the current belief that the brains of autistic children have fewer neural connections than the brains of typically developing children. The findings could lead to new ways to detect autism early and new treatment methods, said the authors of the studies, which were published in the Nov. 7 issue of the journal Cell Reports. "Our study addresses one of the hottest open questions in autism research," Kaustubh Supekar, of the Stanford University School of Medicine, said in a journal news release. Using a large database of pediatric brain imaging, Supekar and colleague Vinod Menon found that the brains of children with autism are "hyper-connected," and that those with the highest number of connections have the most severe social impairments. In the second study, Ralph-Axel Muller and colleagues at San Diego State University discovered hyper-connectivity in the brains of teens with autism, particularly in the regions that control vision. They also found that the severity of autism symptoms was associated with the number of neural connections. "Our findings support the special status of the visual system in children with heavier symptom load," Muller said in the news release.

Causes.

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Vision, motor areas of the brain out of sync in autism

Parts of the brain that process vision and control movements are poorly connected in children with autism, according to results presented Saturday at the 2013 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego. In addition to the social deficits that are a core feature of autism, children with the disorder often have clumsy movements. Studies have also found that people with autism have trouble imitating others. The new study uncovers patterns of brain activity suggesting all three of these deficits may be related.

 Read more here. 

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What Happens When a Child With Autism Refuses Most Foods?

The life-threatening health problems that a 9-year-old boy with autism faced recently shed light on an issue that is rarely discussed. Many children with autism or other developmental disorders tend to eat an extremely narrow range of foods, and this may put them at risk for serious health problems, said Dr. Melody Duvall, lead author of the case report, which was published online Nov. 4 in the journal Pediatrics. "It was then that the physicians asked about the boy's diet. His mother told them that he would only eat chicken nuggets, crackers, cookies and water. He refused milk, juice, vegetables and fruits, and would not take any form of vitamin." What is it about autism that often makes children resistant to eating a normal and varied diet? One expert had some theories.

 Read more about eating problems here.

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5 Things You Should Know About Families Dealing With Disability

Disability is part of my family's daily life and it has been since my oldest daughter was born with a chromosomal abnormality over seven years ago. My daughter's genetic disorder resulted in a variety of disabilities, both cognitive and physical, that impact nearly every aspect of our lives. Usually we go along with our routine, but sometimes I am struck by how little others know about disability and what life is like for us. I have been reminded of this recently and wanted to share five things I wish everyone knew about disability. 1. We really, really dislike the word "retarded." Please stop using it. Now.

 Read more here. 

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Sample IEP Data Matrix

See it here.

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Attention to eyes is present but in decline in 2ֶ-month-old infantslater diagnosed with autism

Deficits in eye contact have been a hallmark of autism1, 2 since the condition’s initial description3. They are cited widely as a diagnostic feature4 and figure prominently in clinical instruments5; however, the early onset of these deficits has not been known. Here we show in a prospective longitudinal study that infants later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) exhibit mean decline in eye fixation from 2 to 6 months of age, a pattern not observed in infants who do not develop ASD. These observations mark the earliest known indicators of social disability in infancy, but also falsify a prior hypothesis: in the first months of life, this basic mechanism of social adaptive action—eye looking—is not immediately diminished in infants later diagnosed with ASD; instead, eye looking appears to begin at normative levels prior to decline. The timing of decline highlights a narrow developmental window and reveals the early derailment of processes that would otherwise have a key role in canalizing typical social development. Finally, the observation of this decline in eye fixation—rather than outright absence—offers a promising opportunity for early intervention that could build on the apparent preservation of mechanisms subserving reflexive initial orientation towards the eyes.

 Read more here. 

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Social skills in autistics boosted after magnetic brain wave treatment

Results of the first clinical trial using magnetic wave stimulation autistic people, show an encouraging boost in the development of social interactive skills after treatment. The study conducted by the Monash University in Melbourne Australia involved boosting brain waves in the frontal cortex using rTMS, or repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation. Strong magnetic pulses were passed to the frontal cortex of the recipients brains. This part of the brain is proven to be under active in people with autism and ASDs. Recepients received treatments for up to ten minutes per day over a period of ten days. The team carried out a randomised, double-blind clinical trial – the first of its kind – involving 28 adults diagnosed with either high-functioning autism or Asperger’s syndrome.

 Read more here. 

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