Friday, July 30, 2021

Sex, age of diagnosis correlate with autism comorbidities

 The likelihood that an autistic person has another condition correlates strongly with the age at which they received their autism diagnosis. Also, autistic girls are more likely than autistic boys to have another condition, according to a new study.

Among people diagnosed late, at 11 to 15 years old, 26 percent of girls and 13 percent of boys were also diagnosed with an affective disorder, the study found. An opposite trend occurred for intellectual disability; 40 percent of people with an early autism diagnosis had an intellectual disability, compared with just 10 percent of people with a late autism diagnosis.

Read more here at Spectrum. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Mapping the futures of autistic children

Yet researchers have assembled a rich body of data about how autistic people do over time and can provide certain kinds of nuanced projections. The work points to several broad life trajectories for autistic children — rough sketches of how a child’s adolescence and adulthood may unfold. The data also point to subtle, early behavioral markers of future growth or difficulties in specific areas, as well as genetic variants that affect the arc of a child’s trajectory. Some of the research could help clinicians gauge an autistic child’s risk of having mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression as well. 

Such forecasts can give families a general idea of how to plan for the years ahead. “No matter what the outcome is going to be, that unknown is really challenging for families,” says Anne Arnett, a child psychologist at the University of Washington in Seattle. “When you can take away the unknown, or at least give them some idea of what to expect over time, that can be an intervention in and of itself to help families prepare.” The predictions can also point clinicians to therapies that enable children to build on their strengths as they try to ease the children’s difficulties. “There’s a lot of variability in brain growth, and it’s really worth pursuing early interventions to try to support that brain growth,” Arnett says.

Read more here at Spectrum. 

FDA Authorizes Marketing of Diagnostic Aid for Autism Spectrum Disorder

The Cognoa ASD Diagnosis Aid is a software as a medical device that uses a machine learning algorithm to receive input from parents or caregivers, video analysts and health care providers to assist physicians evaluate a patient at risk of ASD. The device consists of three main components: a mobile app for caregivers and parents to answer questions about behavior problems and to upload videos of their child; a video analysis portal that allows manufacturer-trained and certified specialists to view and analyze uploaded videos of patients; and a health care provider portal that is intended for a health care provider to enter answers to pre-loaded questions about behavior problems, track the information provided by parents or caregivers and review a report of the results. After processing the information provided by parents, caregivers and healthcare providers, the ASD Diagnosis Aid reports a positive or negative diagnosis if there is sufficient information for its algorithm to make a diagnosis. If there is insufficient information to render a “Positive for ASD” or “Negative for ASD” result to help determine a diagnosis, the ASD Diagnosis Aid will report that no result can be generated.

The FDA assessed the safety and effectiveness of the Cognoa ASD Diagnosis Aid in a study of 425 patients aged 18 months through 5 years in 14 different clinical care sites, with an average age of 2.8 years. The study compared the assessments made by the device directly against the assessments made by a panel of clinical experts who used the current standard ASD diagnostic process. The device provided a “Positive for ASD” or “Negative for ASD” result to aid in making a diagnosis in 32% of patients. For those with a “Positive for ASD” or “Negative for ASD” result, the device results matched the panel’s conclusions for 81% of patients who tested positive for ASD by the device and 98% of patients who tested negative for ASD by the device. In addition, the device made an accurate ASD determination in 98.4% of patients with the condition and in 78.9% of patients without the condition.


Webinar - How To Provide Students With IEPs Access To Their Grade Level Curriculum Through Text To Speech.

 Aug 18, 2021 01:00 PM in Central Time

Register here. 

Webinar - Text-Based Augmentative and Alternative Communication Tools

 Date: Wednesday, September 8, 2021 — 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM CST

Location: Online Web Streaming
This one-hour workshop will explore text-based augmentative communication (AAC) apps and programs to benefit individuals with communication needs, but who don't find the common symbol-based AAC apps to be a good fit.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Benefits of a Positive Behavior Support Plan for Autism


So what would be the ideal way to address problem behavior? When it comes to our children we just want difficult behavior to stop as quickly and effortlessly as possible. Whatever it takes…rewards or even punishment are frequent weapons in the parental arsenal against challenging behaviors.

But if the problem behavior has a function, or if the behavior is a way to express an unmet need, rewarding or punishing the behavior may not be the answer. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) teaches us that behavior occurs as individuals get something out of it; ABA specifically targets the four functions of behavior which are:

  • Escape: The child behaves in a way that may get him/her out of doing something  he/she doesn’t like, or the behavior helps him/her avoid it all together
  • Attention: Frequently a child’s problem behavior is simply a way to get attention from parents or teachers
  • Access to tangibles: The child may display problematic behavior to gain access to something he/she likes or enjoys, for example a tantrum may result in more time on the iPad
  • Automatic reinforcement: In this instance, the behavior actually provides the reinforcement; stimming (self-stimulatory behavior) is an example where the behavior itself feels good to the child

Understanding the function behind an autistic child’s difficult behavior often leads parents to behavioral research which suggests formulating a comprehensive plan to address the behavior appropriately with evidence-based principles and interventions.

Read more here at Autism Parenting magazine. 

Study finds toddlers with ASD do not differ in progress made in comparison of two treatment types

A study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP), published by Elsevier, reports that the type of one-on-one treatment plans delivered to toddlers, aged 12-30 months, diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) did not lead to any significantly different outcomes. Neither the type of evidence-based intervention provided, nor the number of hours of therapy were shown to have an impact.

The treatments, or intervention methods, delivered by specialized staff to the very young, during the study were either the Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI) or Early Start Denver Model (ESDM). The researchers found negligible overall effects on receptive or expressive language development, nonverbal abilities, or autism symptom severity after one year of direct intervention, which also included twice-monthly parental coaching. 

"Our results should reassure parents who do not have access to the exact treatment type or the number of treatment hours that they would ideally like their recently diagnosed toddlers to receive," said Sally Rogers, PhD, lead author of the study and Professor Emeritus at the UC Davis Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and the MIND Institute. "Given the lack of differences across these four groups, it may well be that it's the common elements rather than the differences that are resulting in children's similar progress."

Read more here. 

Differential Diagnosis in Children with Autistic Symptoms and Subthreshold ADOS Total Score: An Observational Study

Background: Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) share some symptoms with children with other neurodevelopmental disorders (ie, intellectual disability or communication disorders or language disorders). These similarities can make difficult to obtain an accurate diagnosis, which is essential to give targeted treatments to the patients. We aim to verify in our study if children with autistic traits who undergo to Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule had specific clinical diagnosis.

Patients and Methods: We selected 73 children tested with ADOS-G or ADOS-2, for the presence of autistic symptoms. The whole sample did not reach the cut-off of ADOS and did not receive the ASD diagnosis, according to DSM-5.

Results: Results of this study showed that in order of frequency and early diagnosis, communication disorders (CD), mild intellectual disability (mID) and the attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD) represent the most common final clinical diagnosis in children with autistic traits.

Conclusion: Our results showed as the CD was the common diagnosis of these children and that often associated with younger age. Moreover, analyses of ADOS domains and the difference of individual items between groups did not show the capacity to differentiate between different neurodevelopmental disorders in terms of differential diagnosis, and this confirms the need for integrating multiple sources of information during the diagnostic process.

Read more here. 

Sunday, July 4, 2021

2020 Child Count Data on Montana Students with Autism

 1876 = 1876

So here is the big news. The number of students with autism in the 2020 school year did not change from the number of students with autism in the 2019 school year. The Child Count for both years is exactly the same number - 1876 students with autism in Montana public schools. 

We checked by comparing the changes in year to year district-level data. We checked again comparing year to year county-level data. We checked a third time by comparing year to year data on race. For each set of data, the number of students with an identification of autism increased and decreased by the exact same amount and the net sum was zero. 

Perhaps COVID had a role: 

Spring pre-school screenings were cancelled, which meant that some some students who would have been newly-identifed in the spring may not have been evaluated. 

When schools moved to remote learning, new and currently-enrolled students may not have been evaluated for autism due to the difficulties of conducting assessments through virtual observation and testing.

This was the second Child Count year in which students ages 6-8 could be served under the identification of Developmentally Delayed (DD.) Although we have only one year of comparision (2019) we will be looking at the DD numbers and other age data for 2019 to 2020.

The number of all students with disabilities in the Child Count declined by ~500 students (19,645 to 19,156.) Since students with autism average around 9% of the total child count, theoretically that could mean that there were 44 fewer students with autism as part of that decline in the number of students with disabilities. 

We will be looking more deeply at the 2020 Child Count data to see what might be interesting and will share anything of interest or conjuncture that we find. 


Native American Student Data

Note: The American Indian numbers are small enough that adding or subtracting three kids from a gender changes the percentage.