Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Resources: Autism Technology

From the Virginia Commonwealth University Autism Center for Excellence Briefs Using a Handheld Computer as a Cognitive-Behavioral Tool Android Technology Fast Facts Video Modeling using iPod Touch, iPad or other Tablets Getting Organized Apple Apps Resource Guide Apple and Android Apps for the Support of People with Autism Videos - Video Demonstrations of Technology Strategies for Video Modeling with iPods and iPadsTony Gentry, PhD OTR/L Now that iPod Touches and Tablet computers have onboard video cameras, it can be easy to build videos to assist with wayfinding, social cueing, task sequencing and behavioral prompting. This video introduces strategies for using video modeling for each of these purposes. Promising Apps for Handheld DevicesTony Gentry, PhD OTR/L This video introduces a variety of apps that can help turn your ipod touch or ipad into a versatile cognitive-behavioral support tool. We look at apps for reminders, task-sequencing, homework, healthy living, behavior management and more. Inexpensive Apps for Augmentative CommunicationTony Gentry, PhD OTR/L Speech production apps offer affordable new opportunities for augmentative communication efforts. This video compares six apps - Tap-to-Talk, Talk Assist, Voice4u, Speak It!, Baldi and Talking Tom Cat - and discusses strategies for using them successfully. Reminder Apps for the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and iPad2Tony Gentry, PhD OTR/L Reminder alarms on handheld devices can be powerful tools for people with cognitive challenges helping them plan their day, take control of their activities, manage their task, and stay aware of time, switching tasks as needed. Archived Webcasts Smartphones, iPads and Tablet PCs as Cognitive-Behavioral Aids in Autism Smartphones, PDAs, iPads, and tablet computers can be powerful tools for managing cognitive-behavioral challenges experienced by people with autism. They can be easily customized to support just-in-time activity cueing, task-sequencing, wayfinding, communication assistance and behavioral coaching, among other uses. This presentation examines consumer platforms, applications and strategies for implementing individualized cognitive-behavioral suites, providing real life case studies, practical examples and outcome measures to assure success. Assistive Technology for Cognition on FacebookAssistive Technology (AT) can be used to manage cognitive-behavioral challenges experienced by people with autism. It can be easily customized to support activity cueing, task-sequencing, wayfinding, communication assistance and behavioral coaching, among other uses. Join Dr. Gentry on Facebook to learn about, discuss and share AT tools that are effective with individuals with ASD.

archived webcasts:

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Monday, October 27, 2014

A Trip to the Dentist Can Be a Positive Experience

With support from Autism Speaks’ Autism Treatment Network (ATN), we created Treating Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: An ATN/AIR-P Tool Kit for Dental Professionals. It is designed to help dental professionals like myself understand autism and work with parents to help make office visits successful. I often use the recommendations in the tool kit in my own practice. Also see Dr. Shick’s Autism Speaks “Got Questions?” blog post – “Is It Safe to Sedate our Son during his Dental Appointment?” – and “For Children with Autism: Opening the Door to Dental Care,”

More here:

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Helping Pediatricians Improve Treatment of Autism-Related Constipation







1. Families should take the lead in establishing treatment goals. ?or one family, goals might include their child being able to make a bowel movement without pain,?Cole explained. ?or another, it might include having more than one bowel movement a week or having a child take his constipation medicine without a fight.?lt;/p>

2. Move from physician-led to team-based care. Treatment of chronic constipation should involve as many of the patient? caregivers as possible. In addition to parents and doctors, this can include nurses, behavioral therapists, daycare staff, behavioral therapists, etc.

3. Emphasize problem-solving over prescriptions. ?ften the solutions to a chronic problem like constipation involve more education and problem-solving than medicine,?Cole said. The investigators made use of Autism Speaks?ATN/AIR-P Guide for Managing Constipation. ?e gave copies to families and sent them to their primary care providers to help them understand what we were doing,?Cole explained.

Read more here.

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More Research Links Autism to Prenatal Exposure to Air Pollution

A new study adds to the growing body of evidence linking autism to air-pollution exposure during late pregnancy. In particular, the researchers looked at exposure to particulate matter – the kind of pollution associated with traffic. The findings, by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, appear this week in the journal Epidemiology. In all, the investigators analyzed recordings of particulate levels near the homes of 77,500 children in North Carolina and 87,000 children in California. The measurements began before conception and continued, every three weeks, through pregnancy and the child’s first year of life. The researchers then compared the timing and level of pollution exposure for around 1,000 children who went on to develop autism with that of the other children in the study. Effect strongest in third trimester

 Read more here

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Study: Autism Therapy Produces Greatest Gains When Started Before Age 2

A new study provides further evidence that earlier intervention for autism increases the likelihood that a child will make significant gains in social and communication skills. The report appears in the journal Research in Developmental Disabilities. In the study, researchers at The New England Center for Children enrolled 83 toddlers diagnosed with autism in the school’s Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention program. The program, based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), provided 20 to 30 hours of one-on-one therapy each week. The children were between 1 and 3 years old at the time they began therapy. After one year of intervention, testing showed gains in social and communication skills across all age groups. These skills included sharing attention with another person, interactive play, imitation and language. To gauge the extent of these gains, the researchers compared each child’s skill levels at the end of the year to both the child’s skill level on entering the program and the skills of an age-matched comparison group of 58 typically developing children. While all age groups showed improvements, a much larger percentage of the youngest participants made significant gains in skills during the year of therapy. * Among the toddlers who entered the therapy program before their second birthday, 90 percent (11 out of 12 children) made significant gains. * This was true of 70 percent (26 of 36) of those who began therapy between 24 and 29 months of age. * By contrast, only 30 percent of the children who entered therapy after 30 months of age (11 out of 35) made significant gains across the year.

Read more here. 

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Siblings of children with autism can show signs at 18 months

About 20% of younger siblings of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) will develop the condition by age 3. A new study by Yale School of Medicine researchers has found that 57% of these younger siblings who later develop the condition already showed symptoms at age 18 months. Chawarska said what was most interesting to the research team was that different patterns of behaviors at 18 months may be predictive of ASD later on. In about 50% of siblings, a combination of poor eye contact and lack of communicative gestures or imaginative play is most strongly associated with later ASD diagnosis. In a small percentage of those later diagnosed with ASD, eye contact may be relatively normal, but they begin to display early signs of repetitive behaviors and have limited non-verbal communication skills. “So not only do the behavioral symptoms appear at different ages, but different combinations of early symptoms may predict the diagnostic outcome,” Chawarska added. “Linking these developmental dynamics with underlying neurobiology may advance our understanding of causes of ASD and further efforts to personalize treatment for ASD by tailoring it to specific clinical profiles and their developmental dynamics.”

 Read more here. 

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Parent Training Shows Promise For Kids With Autism

Monthly home visits to teach parents how to best work with their children with autism can go a long way toward improving kids’ interactions, researchers say. Over the course of a year, children whose families received monthly three-hour visits from a specialist showed greater gains in attention and initiation skills as compared to other kids on the spectrum, according to findings published this month in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics. Parents who received the extra help were also more effectively able to engage with their child, the study found.

 Read more here. 

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Emerging Evidence Shows How Computer Messaging Helps Autistic AdultsCommunicate

Today, Aske Plaat at Leiden University in the Netherlands and a few pals say they have carried out just such a study. These guys have compared the computer-based communication patterns of over 100 high-functioning adults with autism against a control group of around 70 individuals without autism. And their findings provide a fascinating insight, not only into the way in which technology can help autistic individuals, but into their levels of life satisfaction as a result. Plaat and co begin by recruiting volunteers for both groups and asking them to fill out a number of questionnaires about the way they use the Internet and various computer-based forms of communication. They also asked individuals to fill in a standard questionnaire about their well-being and a standard test that measures their degree of autism. They also collected basic details about their sex, age, occupation, whether single or in a relationship, and so on. Finally, they mined the resulting data looking for interesting correlations. The results show clear differences between the groups. Plaat and co say that people in the autistic group tended to use computer-based communication just as much or more than the control group and tend to appreciate it more and in different ways. They also have more online friends on average than the control group. To find out why, the team simply asked people in both groups about their preferences. One advantage for the autistic group is that te slower pace of text, e-mails and the like reduces the need for an immediate response and gives people more time to think. The control group also say that time flexibility is an advantage of computer-based communication but for a different reason. In this case, the advantage is mainly convenience: being able to reply in one’s own time. “All in all, people with autistic spectrum conditions name and value advantages that help to mitigate their autistic impairments, while for controls aspects of convenience seem more relevant,” say Plaat and co. The team also says that the relationship between computer-based communication and well-being is significant as well. “People with autistic spectrum conditions are relatively satisfied with their online social life; more so than with their social life and their life in general,” say Plaat and co. “They still do not reach the level of satisfaction of controls, but the difference is smaller than in the other aspects of life, and on average, they are on the positive end on the scale.”

 Read more here. 

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Autism may be predicted by overgrowth

Researchers have identified another factor in the development of autism spectrum disorder: body overgrowth in early childhood. The study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, found that boys with autism developed significantly larger heads and longer, heavier bodies than their normally developing peers in the first two years after birth. These effects were not significant in girls. When the autistic children were tested at four years old for verbal and nonverbal skills, large body size and overgrowth in the postnatal period correlated with lower performance. Lead author and associate professor in the Yale Child Study Center Katarzyna Chawarska said these growth patterns might help in autism diagnosis. “I believe that somatic overgrowth might be an early marker of less optimal outcomes in ASD [Autism Spectrum Disorder], as atypical growth features in the first two years of life were associated with more severe symptoms one to two years later as well as lower levels of verbal and cognitive functioning,” she said.

 Read more here.

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Studies confirm Autism diagnosis low in Israeli populations

A study recently conducted by child psychologist, developmental specialist and chairmen of the Israeli Association of Child Development and Rehabilitation Dr. Mitchell Shertz showed that autism is less common in ultra-Orthodox and Arab communities. The study looked at Meuhedet health maintenance organizations data of 450,000 children up to age 18 and found that there was only 2.5 cases per 1,000 children for ultra-Orthodox populations, and only 3 cases per 1,000 children in Arab populations. Secular and nations with one primary faith had autism in 5.5 to 9 children per 1,000.

Read more here. 

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Community-based Skills Assessment (CSA): Developing a PersonalizedTransition Plan!

The CSA is the first tool to assess needs in the area of community-based living, from transportation to financial management to peer relationships and more. The tool is divided into three levels based upon the age of the individual being assessed. Eight critical areas of functional life skills will be assessed: Career path and employment Self-determination/advocacy Health and safety Peer relationships, socialization and social communication Community participation and personal finance Transportation Leisure/recreation Home living skills The assessment uses both a criterion-based observation and interview-based process to measure the individual's knowledge, skills and behaviors. Click here to read the introduction and learn more about the CSA. You can also read all about how it works here! 

 Download the Community-based Skills Assessment here

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

What You Need To Know About Working With Colleagues On The AutismSpectrum

The new guy in the office is loud and aggressive. He can’t read social cues, won’t wait his turn in meetings, and talks obsessively about the same things every day – but sometimes shares extraordinary insights. You may wonder: how can you form a good working relationship with someone who’s such a puzzling combination of brilliant, wooden, stand-offish, and just plain different? Here are some strategies that individuals can use to build better relationships with colleagues on the spectrum.

 Read more here. 

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Impaired Prediction Ability May Be Behind Autism

The brain is a biological machine that makes predictions. But what happens when a wrench is thrown in the works, and jams up the ability to foresee the trajectory of a moving object, or what happens after a frown? Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology believe such a wrench lies at the core of autism, a disorder with widely disparate symptoms that strike with varied intensity. Social and language deficits, repetitive behavior, hypersensitivity to stimuli and other symptoms may be manifestations of an impaired ability to predict the behavior of the outside world, according to an analysis published online Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. An impairment in the ability to place stimuli in context with what came before and after them leaves people with autism struggling with a seemingly capricious world that makes excruciating demands on their attention, according to the report. “We sometimes affectionately call this the magical world theory of autism,” said MIT neuroscientist Pawan Sinha, lead author of the study. “The hallmark of a magical performance is the surprise, the unpredictability of the outcome. … Although for a brief period of time, a magic show might be pleasurable, if one is constantly immersed in that kind of a magical world, one can begin to get overwhelmed.”

 Read more here. 

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