Monday, November 20, 2017

Race, class contribute to disparities in autism diagnoses

The prevalence of autism continues to increase across the United States, regardless of socioeconomic class, according to a new study1. Overall, black and Hispanic children are less likely than their white peers to have an autism diagnosis.
The findings highlight persistent racial disparities in autism prevalence: White children are about 19 percent more likely than black children and 65 percent more likely than Hispanic children to be diagnosed with autism.
Autism prevalence in the U.S. has more than doubled since 2002. Researchers have looked to changes in the condition’s diagnostic definition and greater awareness among parents as possible explanations for this rise.
They have also assumed that access to good schools and medical care would explain much of why white children and those of high socioeconomic status are more likely than black and Hispanic children and those of low socioeconomic status to be diagnosed with autism.
The new study upended many of these assumptions.
The findings suggest that socioeconomic status doesn’t fully explain the differences in prevalence across race and ethnicity.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Portrayals of autism on television don’t showcase full spectrum

If you’re a fan of either of two new television shows that debuted in the United States this September — “Atypical” on the streaming service Netflix or “The Good Doctor” on ABC  I’ve got news for you. You’re watching an overly positive depiction of autism that doesn’t reflect reality for the majority of people on the spectrum.
To the TV-watching public, autism has come to mean the verbal, higher-skilled, savant end of the spectrum, because individuals at that end make for interesting characters.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Smart Shop: Identifying the Evidence-Based Practices in Commonly Used Curriculum

In this edition, we’ll continue to explore sessions from the Communities of Leaders in Autism (CoLA) Summer Institute. This month’s presentations cover EBPs, or evidence-based practices!

Sue Palko, Region 1 Autism Program Coordinator, and Karen Berlin, Training and Technical Assistance Center at George Mason University, presented Smart Shop: Identifying the Evidence-Based Practice in Commonly Used Curriculum. This presentation reviewed the importance of relying on scientific behavior knowledge and evidence-based practices when selecting and using curricula for instruction of learners with autism spectrum disorders and examined available tools to help educators determine if commercial products and curriculum are a “right fit” for their students. While no ASD specific tool for this purpose has yet been developed, school division leadership and educators can use the following tools to inform and guide their selection and decision making processes:

Hexagon Tool: The Hexagon Tool helps states, divisions, and schools systematically evaluate new and existing interventions via six broad factors: needs, fit, resource availability, evidence, readiness for replication, and capacity to implement.

Selection of Evidence Based Practices Tool: This Virginia Tiered Systems of Support selection tool provides guiding questions to help stakeholders determine if an intervention will be a “right fit” for its intended purpose within a division or school.

Virginia Commonwealth University Autism Center for Excellence, (VCU-ACE): Based on the skill competencies for professionals supporting individuals with ASD across the lifespan, this website provides on-line training, resources, and links to training information on EBPs listed by NPDC (below) and the National Autism Center.
National Professional Center for ASD: This website maintains resources and information on specific evidence-based practices for ASD and provides free access to AFIRM online modules and resources for each of the 27 EBPs.

National Autism Center: This website houses the “National Standards Project” report which provides qualitative analysis and guidance about which interventions have been shown to be effective for individuals with ASD.

Autism Internet Modules: This website provides 45 free on-line training modules on evidence based practices for learners with ASD.
Other web-based resources to guide an educator’s selection of academic instructional resources and curriculum: