Monday, July 31, 2017

Autism rates in the United States explained

Has the rising awareness of autism contributed to the prevalence?
Increased awareness of autism has undoubtedly contributed to its rise in prevalence, Durkin says.
Until the 1980s, many people with autism were institutionalized, rendering them effectively invisible. Studies show that parents who are aware of autism’s presentation — by living near someone with the condition, for example — are more likely to seek a diagnosis for their children than parents with no knowledge of the condition. Living close to urban centers and having access to good medical care also boost the likelihood of diagnosis.
Greater awareness of autism is also likely to boost CDC estimates by increasing the chances that autism traits, such as lack of eye contact, show up in school and medical records, says Fombonne.
Policy changes may have also played a role. In 2006, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended screening all children for autism during routine pediatrician visits at 18 and 24 months of age. This move may have led to diagnoses for children who would otherwise have slipped under the radar.
Are there other factors that have influenced prevalence?

Friday, July 28, 2017

A Good Tutorial On Reading Scientific Studies About Autism

[causation: An event or outcome B is influenced by a change in A]
Sir Austin Bradford Hill, a statistician and epidemiologist, created a list of guidelines for evaluating whether there is evidence of a causal relationship.[1] He determined the following aspects of associations ought to be considered when assessing causality. When thinking about this problem, an xkcd comic I have seen in every lecture on this topic came to mind:

Read more here. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Choice of method may influence brain imaging results in autism

If one were to summarize the state of brain research on autism in a sentence, it might be: “We have many findings, but little understanding.” Neuroimaging research on autism has been enormously productive in the past decades, including tens of thousands of results. But few of the studies have been replicated. We have therefore not been able to piece together a coherent picture of crucial brain features underlying autism.

One problem is heterogeneity: Children diagnosed with autism fulfill the behavioral criteria in the latest version of the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” the DSM-5, but do not all have the same biological condition. ‘Autism’ probably includes many different neurobiological conditions that differ in their causes.

A foremost clinical goal in autism research is, therefore, not so much to find the cause and the treatment for the condition, but to find out whether there are biologically distinct types of autism, each potentially treatable in a different way. Consequently, we need to understand whether neuroscientific results tell us something important about ‘autisms’ and their differences — as opposed to findings that only reflect differences in the way we conduct our studies. Research on brain connectivity may serve as an example.

Critical choices:
There is growing agreement that autism is not located in a specific part of the brain, but rather relates to the way different brain regions ‘talk’ to each other. A prominent technique in the study of brain-network communication is functional-connectivity magnetic resonance imaging (fcMRI), which tests whether activity changes are coordinated across different parts of the brain.

About 10 years ago, there appeared to be firm evidence that the brain in autism is underconnected — less coordinated than the neurotypical brain. But then, more and more published studies appeared to show the exact opposite.
As it turns out, different studies used slightly different methods

Read more here at Spectrum.

Earplugs for sound reduction

Vibes are earplugs designed for music. A traditional foam earplug muffles and distorts sound. This is due to an unequal distribution of decibel reduction between low and high frequencies (bass to treble). Ever had speakers playing in a room next door and all you can hear is the thumping of the bass? Well, that’s because none of the high frequencies (treble) can make it through and the sound is distorted. The same thing happens when you wear a foam earplug, it's like putting a wall between your ears and the music.

Read more here.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Over 75 Quick "On-The-Spot" Techniques for Children and Adolescents with Emotional and Behavior Problems

Billings - October 11
Bozeman - October 12
Missoula - October 13

 Leaving nothing to the abstract, “75 Quick, ‘On-The-Spot’ Techniques for Children and Adolescents with Emotional and Behavioral Problems” will guide you through focused, clear and successful methods for treating children. Every professional who seeks to fill their toolbox with tested methods will leave this seminar with a wealth of fresh ideas and rejuvenated spirits.

If you do not have a lot of experience working with children and teens, you will leave with a defined strategy for success. If you are a seasoned professional, you will learn new tricks and techniques to re-energize and revitalize your practice!

With nearly 25 years of clinical experience and a background in improvisational comedy, Dr. Steve is a strong proponent of “Edutainment.” Namely, he uses charm, wit and humor to enhance your seminar experience, thus improving the retention and utilization of the specific skills covered. We change the world when we touch a child’s life!

Register here for $200.

Please note: This event is not sponsored by the OPI Montana Autism Education Project nor or we offering attendance scholarships.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Understanding Life Skills, Meltdowns and Sensory Proessing

August 17th

Jennifer McIlwee Myers, author of How to Teach Life Skills to Kids with Autism and Growing Up With Sensory Issues, will give an enlightening understanding of how to teach life skills, how to compre- hend meltdowns from the inside out and how to understand sensory is- sues. Jennifer was diagnosed with Asperger’s at the age of 36 and has since devoted her time to learning and teaching about autism. It is her life goal to promote understanding between those with autism spectrum disorders and everyone else. She comes highly recommended by Tem- ple Grandin and Ellen Notbohm (Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew). Jennifer will give her unique perspective to help everyone in attendance understand the autism mind and equip each one with creative, practical solutions for better day-to-day functioning.

Register here.  

Webinar - Zones of Regulation, Havre, August 7th

The Zones of Regulation (2011) curriculum, comprises of lessons and activities designed by Leah Kuypers, M. A. Ed., OTR/L to help students gain skills in the area of self-regulation. The lessons and learning activities are designed to help the students recognize when they’re in the different Zones (states of alertness/moods) as well as learn how to use strategies to regulate the Zone they are in. In addition to addressing self-regulation, the students will be gaining an increased vocabulary of emotional terms, skills in reading facial expressions, perspective on how others see and react to their behavior, insight on events that trigger their behavior, calming and alerting strategies, and problem solving skills.

Zones trainings provide strategies to teach students to become more aware of and independent in controlling their emotions and impulses, managing their sensory needs and improving their ability to problem solve conflicts. Practical ideas are provided that can easily be incorporated into the classroom or home.

Go here to register.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Archived Webinar - Feeding Q & A: Beyond the Basics

Join us for this webinar as we answer your questions and expand on multi-disciplinary options for behavioral, dietary, and nutritional support in a feeding program.
View the archived webinar here.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Archived Webinar: Julie Lounds Taylor explores ‘coming of age’ in autism

Watch the archived webinar here. 

Twin tots reveal autism traits arise mostly from genes

Genes are bigger contributors to autism features than are environmental factors, according to a study of nearly 39,000 twins1.
Autism traits such as repetitive behaviors or resistance to change are about 80 percent heritable, the study found. Previous twin studies estimated that genes account for up to 95 percent of autism risk.
“This study tends to confirm that development of autistic traits is indeed due to heritability, and not so much due to whatever parents do or don’t do,” says lead researcher Dorret Boomsma, professor of biological psychology at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
The researchers also mined the data for potential sex differences in the genetics of autism.
Looking at data from 6,400 boy-girl twins, Boomsma and her colleagues used statistical techniques to tease out whether different genes contribute to autism in boys than in girls. If different genes are at play, scores between boy-girl twins should vary to a different degree than do scores of same-sex fraternal twins.
The analysis showed no such systematic difference in scores. This result suggests that the same genes influence autism traits in boys and girls.

Regional autism rates point to impact of awareness, training

Children’s odds of getting an autism diagnosis depend on where they live in the United States, according to a new study1. The variation persists after controlling for a family’s socioeconomic status and certain environmental factors, suggesting that it reflects differences in access to medical care.

Big differences in autism rates could hint at the influence of an environmental factor — for instance, societal resources — that is more abundant in some areas than in others.

The results also support the idea that the increase in autism over the past two decades is largely due to growing awareness and better training of doctors.

Read more here at Spectrum. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Oxytocin improves social abilities in some kids with autism

Children with autism showed improved social behavior when treated with oxytocin, a hormone linked to social abilities, according to a new study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Children with low oxytocin benefited most from the medication, the study found.

Some key points from the article: 

The new study included 32 children with autism who were randomly assigned to receive an intranasal oxytocin spray or a placebo spray twice daily for four weeks. The children’s blood oxytocin levels were measured before and after the four-week period. The children’s behavior was assessed at the beginning and end of the trial using a standardized questionnaire completed by their parents. 

Intriguing placebo effect

As in many trials, the researchers saw some improvement even in children given the placebo, though the effect was less pronounced than it was in the oxytocin group. Children who had low oxytocin at baseline received more benefit from placebo than those who began with high oxytocin — and their bodies’ own production of the hormone rose modestly. This unexpected finding suggests a possible biological explanation for the placebo effect, which is common in studies of psychological and psychiatric treatments, Parker said. The idea that increases in natural oxytocin production might explain how patients benefit from a placebo merits future research, she added.

Read more here.