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1.  Preliminary Efficacy of Adapted Responsive Teaching for Infants at Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder in a Community Sample 
Autism Research and Treatment  2015;2015:386951.
This study examined the (a) feasibility of enrolling 12-month-olds at risk of ASD from a community sample into a randomized controlled trial, (b) subsequent utilization of community services, and (c) potential of a novel parent-mediated intervention to improve outcomes. The First Year Inventory was used to screen and recruit 12-month-old infants at risk of ASD to compare the effects of 6–9 months of Adapted Responsive Teaching (ART) versus referral to early intervention and monitoring (REIM). Eighteen families were followed for ~20 months. Assessments were conducted before randomization, after treatment, and at 6-month follow-up. Utilization of community services was highest for the REIM group. ART significantly outperformed REIM on parent-reported and observed measures of child receptive language with good linear model fit. Multiphase growth models had better fit for more variables, showing the greatest effects in the active treatment phase, where ART outperformed REIM on parental interactive style (less directive), child sensory responsiveness (less hyporesponsive), and adaptive behavior (increased communication and socialization). This study demonstrates the promise of a parent-mediated intervention for improving developmental outcomes for infants at risk of ASD in a community sample and highlights the utility of earlier identification for access to community services earlier than standard practice.
doi:10.1155/2015/386951
PMCID: PMC4306223  PMID: 25648749
2.  How Sex of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Access to Treatment Services Relates to Parental Stress 
Autism Research and Treatment  2014;2014:721418.
Parents of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) experience higher levels of stress in comparison to parents of neurotypical children and consequently are more susceptible to negative health and social outcomes (Dunn et al., 2001). However, less is known about how individual child characteristics impact stress levels in parents of children with ASD. In this study, we examined the relationship between individual characteristics (i.e., sex) of children with ASD and parental stress. Access to comprehensive treatment services was also examined as a contributing factor to parental stress. Parenting stress was higher for parents of girls than for parents of boys, and for parents of girls (but not boys) fewer services predicted higher parental distress. Findings highlight the importance of providing parents of girls with ASD with more tailored support.
doi:10.1155/2014/721418
PMCID: PMC4279184  PMID: 25580295
3.  Mild Dermatoglyphic Deviations in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Average Intellectual Abilities as Compared to Typically Developing Boys 
Autism Research and Treatment  2014;2014:968134.
Dermatoglyphics, ridge constellations on the hands and feet, are permanently formed by the second trimester of pregnancy. Consequently, they are considered “fossilized” evidence of a specific prenatal period. A high frequency of dermatoglyphic anomalies, or a high rate of dermatoglyphic asymmetry (discordance), is an indication of developmental instability (prenatal disturbances) prior to 24-week gestation. Most dermatoglyphic studies in psychiatry focus on adult schizophrenia. Studies on dermatoglyphic deviances and autism are sparse, include severely disturbed and intellectually retarded patients with autism, and are carried out mainly in non-Western European populations. In this study, finger print patterns, atd-angles, and palmar flexion crease patterns (PFCs) are compared between Western European adolescent teenage males, of average intellect, with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD; n = 46) and typically developing adolescent teenage males (TD; n = 49). Boys with ASD had a higher rate of discordance in their finger print patterns than TD boys. Thus, the hypothesized prenatal disturbances that play a role in the etiology of schizophrenia and severe autism might not be specific to these severe psychiatric disorders but might also be involved in the etiology of varying degrees of ASD.
doi:10.1155/2014/968134
PMCID: PMC4251361  PMID: 25478224
4.  A Randomised Control Trial of the Impact of a Computer-Based Activity Programme upon the Fitness of Children with Autism 
Autism Research and Treatment  2014;2014:419653.
The poor levels of fitness in children with autism are prompting concern for the children's future health. This study looked to assess if a computer-based activity programme could improve fitness levels (as reflected in cardiopulmonary function) of these children, and achieve a reduction in their body mass index. In a randomised controlled trial, 50 children with autism (of which 33 were under the age of 11 years and 39 were boys) were allocated to an intervention group which encouraged them to use the Nintendo Wii and the software package “Mario and Sonics at the Olympics” in addition to their routine physical education classes. 50 children with autism (34 under the age of 11 years and 40 being boys) acted as controls. At the end of one year, analysis of the changes in scores using analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) on the Eurofit fitness tests showed that the intervention group had made statistically significant improvement on all tests other than flexibility. These improvements were also significantly better than controls. This type of intervention appears to be an effective addition to standard fitness training in order to help children with autism improve their fitness levels.
doi:10.1155/2014/419653
PMCID: PMC4220566  PMID: 25400946
5.  Physical Activity and Physical Fitness of School-Aged Children and Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders 
Autism Research and Treatment  2014;2014:312163.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by impairments in social communication deficits and the presence of restricted and repetitive behaviors, interests, or activities. Literature comparing the physical activity and fitness of children with ASD to typically developing peers is in need of attention. The purpose of this investigation was to examine the physical activity and fitness of school-aged children with ASD (N = 17) in comparison to typically developing peers (N = 12). Participants with ASD completed diagnostic and developmental assessments and a series of physical fitness assessments: 20-meter multistage shuttle, sit-and-reach test, handgrip strength, and body mass index. Physical activity was measured using accelerometry and preestablished cut-points of physical activity (Freedson et al., 2005). MANCOVA revealed significant between-group effects in strength (P = .03), while ANCOVA revealed significant between-group effects in sedentary (P = .00), light (P = .00), moderate (P = .00), and total moderate-to-vigorous (P = .01) physical activity. Children with ASD are less physically active and fit than typically developing peers. Adapted physical activity programs are one avenue with intervention potential to combat these lower levels of physical activity and fitness found in children with ASD.
doi:10.1155/2014/312163
PMCID: PMC4182001  PMID: 25309753
6.  Tsc2 Haploinsufficiency Has Limited Effects on Fetal Brain Cytokine Levels during Gestational Immune Activation 
Autism Research and Treatment  2014;2014:761279.
Dysregulated TSC/mTOR signaling may play a pathogenetic role in forms of syndromic autism, such as autism associated with tuberous sclerosis, a genetic disorder caused by heterozygous TSC1 or TSC2 mutations. Environmental risk factors, such as gestational viral infections, may, in some cases, also contribute to the pathogenesis of autism and related neuropsychiatric disorders. We have recently found that a heterozygous Tsc2 mutation and the poly I:C model of maternal immune activation (MIA) interactively perturb fetal development and adult social behavior in mice, suggesting that these factors converge on shared pathways. TSC/mTOR signaling plays an important role in the modulation of immune responses, raising the possibility that the damage caused by MIA was greater in Tsc2+/− than in wildtype fetuses because of an exacerbated immune response in the mutants. Here, cytokine antibody arrays were employed to measure relative cytokine abundances in the fetal brain and the placenta during MIA. Cytokines were induced by gestational poly I:C but there was no obvious modulatory effect of Tsc2 haploinsufficiency. The data indicate that cytokine exposure during MIA is comparable in Tsc2 haploinsufficient and wildtype control fetuses, suggesting that downstream molecular and cellular processes may account for the interactive effects of Tsc2 haploinsufficiency and MIA.
doi:10.1155/2014/761279
PMCID: PMC4119898  PMID: 25114803
7.  Computer Vision Tools for Low-Cost and Noninvasive Measurement of Autism-Related Behaviors in Infants 
Autism Research and Treatment  2014;2014:935686.
The early detection of developmental disorders is key to child outcome, allowing interventions to be initiated which promote development and improve prognosis. Research on autism spectrum disorder (ASD) suggests that behavioral signs can be observed late in the first year of life. Many of these studies involve extensive frame-by-frame video observation and analysis of a child's natural behavior. Although nonintrusive, these methods are extremely time-intensive and require a high level of observer training; thus, they are burdensome for clinical and large population research purposes. This work is a first milestone in a long-term project on non-invasive early observation of children in order to aid in risk detection and research of neurodevelopmental disorders. We focus on providing low-cost computer vision tools to measure and identify ASD behavioral signs based on components of the Autism Observation Scale for Infants (AOSI). In particular, we develop algorithms to measure responses to general ASD risk assessment tasks and activities outlined by the AOSI which assess visual attention by tracking facial features. We show results, including comparisons with expert and nonexpert clinicians, which demonstrate that the proposed computer vision tools can capture critical behavioral observations and potentially augment the clinician's behavioral observations obtained from real in-clinic assessments.
doi:10.1155/2014/935686
PMCID: PMC4090521  PMID: 25045536
8.  Defining Autism: Variability in State Education Agency Definitions of and Evaluations for Autism Spectrum Disorders 
Autism Research and Treatment  2014;2014:327271.
In light of the steady rise in the prevalence of students with autism, this study examined the definition of autism published by state education agencies (SEAs), as well as SEA-indicated evaluation procedures for determining student qualification for autism. We compared components of each SEA definition to aspects of autism from two authoritative sources: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) and Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA-2004). We also compared SEA-indicated evaluation procedures across SEAs to evaluation procedures noted in IDEA-2004. Results indicated that many more SEA definitions incorporate IDEA-2004 features than DSM-IV-TR features. However, despite similar foundations, SEA definitions of autism displayed considerable variability. Evaluation procedures were found to vary even more across SEAs. Moreover, within any particular SEA there often was little concordance between the definition (what autism is) and evaluation procedures (how autism is recognized). Recommendations for state and federal policy changes are discussed.
doi:10.1155/2014/327271
PMCID: PMC4060325  PMID: 24987527
9.  Characteristics of Children Who Lost the Diagnosis of Autism: A Sample from Istanbul, Turkey 
Autism Research and Treatment  2014;2014:472120.
Aim. The aim of this study was to describe a group of children who lost a diagnosis of autism following participation in early educational programs. Method. This is a descriptive study reporting the characteristics of children (n: 39) who lost their diagnosis of autism and explaining the educational programs that these children followed. The data were collected by reviewing the participants' files and through examinations. Results. All of the children were placed at regular psychiatric follow-ups. The mean age at referral was 2.39±0.75 years, whereas the mean age at the time of optimal outcome reported was 5.11 ± 1.95 years. Two of the children were in early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI), and the rest were in a comprehensive naturalistic behavioral program. The childhood autism rating scale (CARS) total scores at baseline and final were 32.75 ± 3.15 and 18.01 ± 1.76, respectively. The mean IQ of the group at final examination was 116.70 ± 18.88. Conclusion. It could be concluded that a group of children with an autism diagnosis could lose the diagnosis of autism upon early intervention. High IQ and the development of communicative and language skills at an early age could be the most powerful factors contributing to an optimal outcome.
doi:10.1155/2014/472120
PMCID: PMC4022169  PMID: 24876961
10.  Recognition of Emotion from Facial Expressions with Direct or Averted Eye Gaze and Varying Expression Intensities in Children with Autism Disorder and Typically Developing Children 
Autism Research and Treatment  2014;2014:816137.
Eye gaze direction and expression intensity effects on emotion recognition in children with autism disorder and typically developing children were investigated. Children with autism disorder and typically developing children identified happy and angry expressions equally well. Children with autism disorder, however, were less accurate in identifying fear expressions across intensities and eye gaze directions. Children with autism disorder rated expressions with direct eyes, and 50% expressions, as more intense than typically developing children. A trend was also found for sad expressions, as children with autism disorder were less accurate in recognizing sadness at 100% intensity with direct eyes than typically developing children. Although the present research showed that children with autism disorder are sensitive to eye gaze direction, impairments in the recognition of fear, and possibly sadness, exist. Furthermore, children with autism disorder and typically developing children perceive the intensity of emotional expressions differently.
doi:10.1155/2014/816137
PMCID: PMC3996291  PMID: 24804098
11.  Conceptualisation and Development of a Quality of Life Measure for Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder 
Autism Research and Treatment  2014;2014:160783.
Parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) tend to experience greater psychological distress than parents of typically developing children or children with other disabilities. Quality of Life (QoL) is increasingly recognised as a critical outcome measure for planning and treatment purposes in ASD. There is a need for ASD-specific QoL measures as generic measures may not capture all relevant aspects of living with ASD. This paper describes the conceptualisation and development of an autism-specific measure of QoL, the Quality of Life in Autism Questionnaire (QoLA) for parents and caregivers of children with ASD, that is suitable to clinical and research settings. Preliminary psychometric properties (reliability and validity) of the measure are also presented. The QoLA has 48 items in two subscales: one comprising QoL items and the second a parent report of how problematic their child's ASD symptoms are. A study involving 39 families suggested the QoLA has excellent internal consistency as well as good known-groups validity between parents of children with ASD and those who were typically developing. The QoLA also showed good convergent validity with other measures of QoL and ASD symptom severity, respectively. The QoLA may be a valuable assessment tool and merits further psychometric evaluation.
doi:10.1155/2014/160783
PMCID: PMC3977417  PMID: 24778873
12.  Measuring Outcome in an Early Intervention Program for Toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Use of a Curriculum-Based Assessment 
Autism Research and Treatment  2014;2014:964704.
Measuring progress of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) during intervention programs is a challenge faced by researchers and clinicians. Typically, standardized assessments of child development are used within research settings to measure the effects of early intervention programs. However, the use of standardized assessments is not without limitations, including lack of sensitivity of some assessments to measure small or slow progress, testing constraints that may affect the child's performance, and the lack of information provided by the assessments that can be used to guide treatment planning. The utility of a curriculum-based assessment is discussed in comparison to the use of standardized assessments to measure child functioning and progress throughout an early intervention program for toddlers with risk for ASD. Scores derived from the curriculum-based assessment were positively correlated with standardized assessments, captured progress masked by standardized assessments, and early scores were predictive of later outcomes. These results support the use of a curriculum-based assessment as an additional and appropriate method for measuring child progress in an early intervention program. Further benefits of the use of curriculum-based measures for use within community settings are discussed.
doi:10.1155/2014/964704
PMCID: PMC3966353  PMID: 24711926
13.  Disability Identification and Self-Efficacy among College Students on the Autism Spectrum 
Autism Research and Treatment  2014;2014:924182.
The number of youth on the autism spectrum approaching young adulthood and attending college is growing. Very little is known about the subjective experience of these college students. Disability identification and self-efficacy are two subjective factors that are critical for the developmental and logistical tasks associated with emerging adulthood. This study uses data from the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2 to examine the prevalence and correlates of disability identification and self-efficacy among college students on the autism spectrum. Results indicate nearly one-third of these students do not report seeing themselves as disabled or having a special need. Black race was associated with lower likelihood of both disability identification and self-efficacy.
doi:10.1155/2014/924182
PMCID: PMC3953486  PMID: 24707401
14.  The Relationship of HLA Class I and II Alleles and Haplotypes with Autism: A Case Control Study 
Autism Research and Treatment  2014;2014:242048.
Earlier reports showed the relationship between autism and immune genes located in the human leukocyte antigen (HLA). In this current study, we compared the HLA class I and class II alleles and haplotypes in 35 autistic children with 100 control subjects from Saudi Arabia, using PCR-SSP method and Luminex technology. In class I the HLA-A*01 (P = 0.03, OR 2.68), A*02 (P = 0.001, OR 3.02) and HLA-B*07 (P = 0.01, OR 3.27), were significantly associated with autism. Also, the haplotype A*02-B*07 was significantly higher in autistic patients than in controls (P = 0.007, OR 5.83). In class II, DRB1*1104 was significantly higher in patients than in controls (P = 0.001, OR 8.75). The DQB1*0202 (P = 0.001, OR 0.24), DQB1*0302 (P = 0.001, OR 0.14), and DQB1*0501 (P = 0.012, OR 0.25), were negatively associated with disease. While the four-loci genotype study showed that A*01-B*07-DRB1*0701-DQB1*0602 (P = 0.001, OR 41.9) and the A*31-B*51-DRB1*0103-DQB1*0302 (P = 0.012, OR 4.8) are positively associated with autism among Saudi patients. This is the first report on a foreseeable risk of association of HLA-B*07 allele with autism. Thus, HLA-B*07 allele and the closely linked haplotype A*01 B*07 DRB1*0701 DQB1*0602 may serve as a marker for genetic susceptibility to autism in Saudis.
doi:10.1155/2014/242048
PMCID: PMC3929985  PMID: 24672722
15.  No Differences in Emotion Recognition Strategies in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Evidence from Hybrid Faces 
Autism Research and Treatment  2014;2014:345878.
Emotion recognition problems are frequently reported in individuals with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, this research area is characterized by inconsistent findings, with atypical emotion processing strategies possibly contributing to existing contradictions. In addition, an attenuated saliency of the eyes region is often demonstrated in ASD during face identity processing. We wanted to compare reliance on mouth versus eyes information in children with and without ASD, using hybrid facial expressions. A group of six-to-eight-year-old boys with ASD and an age- and intelligence-matched typically developing (TD) group without intellectual disability performed an emotion labelling task with hybrid facial expressions. Five static expressions were used: one neutral expression and four emotional expressions, namely, anger, fear, happiness, and sadness. Hybrid faces were created, consisting of an emotional face half (upper or lower face region) with the other face half showing a neutral expression. Results showed no emotion recognition problem in ASD. Moreover, we provided evidence for the existence of top- and bottom-emotions in children: correct identification of expressions mainly depends on information in the eyes (so-called top-emotions: happiness) or in the mouth region (so-called bottom-emotions: sadness, anger, and fear). No stronger reliance on mouth information was found in children with ASD.
doi:10.1155/2014/345878
PMCID: PMC3909988  PMID: 24527213
16.  Dietary Intake and Plasma Levels of Choline and Betaine in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders 
Autism Research and Treatment  2013;2013:578429.
Abnormalities in folate-dependent one-carbon metabolism have been reported in many children with autism. Because inadequate choline and betaine can negatively affect folate metabolism and in turn downstream methylation and antioxidant capacity, we sought to determine whether dietary intake of choline and betaine in children with autism was adequate to meet nutritional needs based on national recommendations. Three-day food records were analyzed for 288 children with autism (ASDs) who participated in the national Autism Intervention Research Network for Physical Health (AIR-P) Study on Diet and Nutrition in children with autism. Plasma concentrations of choline and betaine were measured in a subgroup of 35 children with ASDs and 32 age-matched control children. The results indicated that 60–93% of children with ASDs were consuming less than the recommended Adequate Intake (AI) for choline. Strong positive correlations were found between dietary intake and plasma concentrations of choline and betaine in autistic children as well as lower plasma concentrations compared to the control group. We conclude that choline and betaine intake is inadequate in a significant subgroup of children with ASDs and is reflected in lower plasma levels. Inadequate intake of choline and betaine may contribute to the metabolic abnormalities observed in many children with autism and warrants attention in nutritional counseling.
doi:10.1155/2013/578429
PMCID: PMC3876775  PMID: 24396597
17.  Back to Basic: Do Children with Autism Spontaneously Look at Screen Displaying a Face or an Object? 
Autism Research and Treatment  2013;2013:835247.
Eye-tracking studies on exploration of faces and objects in autism provided important knowledge but only in a constraint condition (chin rest, total time looking at screen not reported), without studying potential differences between subjects with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and controls in spontaneous visual attention toward a screen presenting these stimuli. This study used eye tracking to compare spontaneous visual attention to a screen displaying a face or an object between children with autism and controls in a nonconstraint condition and to investigate the relationship with clinical characteristics in autism group. Time exploring screen was measured during passive viewing of static images of faces or objects. Autistic behaviors were assessed by the CARS and the BSE-R in autism group. In autism group, time exploring face screen and time exploring object screen were lower than in controls and were not correlated with degree of distractibility. There was no interaction between group and type of image on time spent exploring screen. Only time exploring face screen was correlated with autism severity and gaze impairment. Results highlight particularities of spontaneous visual attention toward a screen displaying faces or objects in autism, which should be taken into account in future eye-tracking studies on face exploration.
doi:10.1155/2013/835247
PMCID: PMC3870651  PMID: 24382999
18.  The Michigan Autism Spectrum Questionnaire: A Rating Scale for High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders 
Autism Research and Treatment  2013;2013:708273.
Although the DSM-5 has recently created a single category of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), delineation of its putative subtypes remains clinically useful. For this process, screening instruments should ideally be brief, simple, and easily available. The aim of this study is to describe the validity of one such instrument. We administered the Michigan Autism Spectrum Questionnaire (MASQ), a 10-item questionnaire, to 42 patients with ASD (age range 6–13 years, mean 9.7 years, SD 2.5, one female) and 18 patients with other psychiatric disorders (age range 6–17 years, mean 11.7 years, SD 3.8, 6 females). Responses to each item were scored from 0 to 4 yielding a total score of 30. Patients with intellectual disability were excluded. As a group, patients with ASD scored higher than those with other psychiatric disorders (Chi-square test with 1 df = 16.019, P < 0.0001). Within the ASD group, a linear discriminant analysis found that the best cut-off points were 22 or above for Asperger syndrome, 14 to 21 for autism/PDDNOS, and less than 14 for those with other psychiatric disorders. We propose that the MASQ can be used as a brief measure to screen high-functioning ASD from other psychiatric disorders and to identify its possible subtypes.
doi:10.1155/2013/708273
PMCID: PMC3870086  PMID: 24381759
19.  Awareness of Autism in Primary School Teachers 
Autism Research and Treatment  2013;2013:961595.
Objective. To assess the knowledge and perception of primary school teachers regarding autism in private and public schools of Karachi, Pakistan. Methods. A cross-sectional survey was conducted on primary school teachers in different districts of Karachi. A sample size of 170 teachers was selected by purposive sampling. Primary data was collected using self-administered questionnaires. These questions assessed the teacher's knowledge and perception of Autism. Data was entered on SPSS version 20. Frequencies and percentages were taken out for categorical variables. Results. Of the total 170 teachers, 85 were from the Private and 85 from Public sector schools. 55% (n = 94) of the teachers knew about Autism through the media and only 9% (n = 15) had formal training through workshops on Autism. 62% (n = 105) of the teachers were of the opinion that Autism is treatable. Majority of the teachers (57%) said that proper training is required for teaching autistic children. Conclusion. The knowledge related to Autism in our existing sample has mostly come from the media. Although we cannot undermine the role of media, there is a need to give formal training to teachers regarding the differentiating features of Autism, which in turn will aid in early diagnosis of the disease.
doi:10.1155/2013/961595
PMCID: PMC3864073  PMID: 24363934
20.  The Relationship between Comprehension of Figurative Language by Japanese Children with High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders and College Freshmen's Assessment of Its Conventionality of Usage 
Autism Research and Treatment  2013;2013:480635.
Unlike their English-speaking counterparts, Japanese children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders (HFASDs) perform as well as typically developing (TD) children in comprehending metaphor, despite lacking 1st order theory of mind (ToM) reasoning. Additionally, although Japanese sarcasm and “indirect reproach” appear theoretically to need 2nd order ToM reasoning, HFASD children without this comprehended these forms of language as well as TD children. To attempt to explain this contradiction, we asked college freshmen to evaluate the strangeness (unconventionality) of these types of figurative language. We aimed to test the hypothesis that metaphor, sarcasm, and “indirect reproach” might be evaluated as more conventional than irony, which children with HFASDs do not comprehend as well as those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The results for irony, metaphor, and “indirect reproach” supported the hypothesis, while those for sarcasm did not. Sarcasm is comprehended by HFASDs children as well as by TD children despite being evaluated as highly unconventional. This contradiction is discussed from a self-in-relation-to-other perspective. We postulate that a new explanation of disabilities of figurative language comprehension in children with HFASDs is needed instead of relying on a single cognitive process.
doi:10.1155/2013/480635
PMCID: PMC3830864  PMID: 24288607
21.  Parasympathetic Response Profiles Related to Social Functioning in Young Children with Autistic Disorder 
Autism Research and Treatment  2013;2013:868396.
Psychophysiology studies of heart rate and heart rate variability can be employed to study regulatory processes in children with autism. The objective of this study was to test for differences in respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA; a measure of heart rate variability) and to examine the relationship between physiologic responses and measures of social behavior. Participants included 2- to 6-year-old children with Autistic Disorder and children without autism. Heart rate and RSA were derived from ECG recordings made during a baseline period and then a stranger approach paradigm. Social and adaptive behavior was assessed by parent report. Groups did not differ in mean heart rate or RSA at baseline or in response to social challenge. However, children with autism were more likely to show a physiologic response to intrusive portions of the stranger approach than to less intrusive portions of this procedure. Nonautistic children were equally likely to respond to intrusive and less intrusive social events. Within the autistic group, physiologic response to the intrusive stranger approach corresponded to higher ratings of social adaptive behaviors. These results suggest that physiologic responses to social challenge may help understand differences in social behavioral outcomes in children with autism.
doi:10.1155/2013/868396
PMCID: PMC3794559  PMID: 24175094
22.  Reciprocity in Interaction: A Window on the First Year of Life in Autism 
Autism Research and Treatment  2013;2013:705895.
From early infancy onwards, young children appear motivated to engage reciprocally with others and share psychological states during dyadic interactions. Although poor reciprocity is one of the defining features of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), few studies have focused on the direct assessment of real-life reciprocal behavior; consequently, our knowledge of the nature and the development of this core feature of autism is still limited. In this study, we describe the phenomenon of reciprocity in infant-caregiver interaction by analyzing family movies taken during the first year of life of 10 infants with ASD and 9 infants with typical development (TD). We analyzed reciprocal behaviors by means of a coding scheme developed for this purpose (caregiver-infant reciprocity scale (CIRS)). Infants with ASD displayed less motor activity during the first semester and subsequently fewer vocalizations, compared to TD infants. Caregivers of ASD infants showed in the second semester shorter periods of involvement and a reduction of affectionate touch. These results suggest that from the first months of life a nonsynchronic motor-vocal pattern may interfere in different ways with the development of reciprocity in the primary relationship between infants later diagnosed with ASD and their caregivers.
doi:10.1155/2013/705895
PMCID: PMC3671510  PMID: 23762551
23.  Validation of Autism Spectrum Quotient Adult Version in an Australian Sample 
Autism Research and Treatment  2013;2013:984205.
The Autism Spectrum Quotient is used to assess autistic spectrum traits in intellectually competent adults in both the general population and the autism spectrum community. While the autism spectrum Quotient has been validated in several different cultures, to date no study has assessed the psychometrics of the Autism Spectrum Quotient on an Australian population. The purpose of this study was to assess the psychometrics of the autism spectrum Quotient in an Australian sample of both typically developing individuals (n = 128) and individuals with autism spectrum disorder (n = 104). The results revealed that the internal consistency and the test-retest reliability were satisfactory; individuals with autism spectrum disorder scored higher on total Autism Spectrum Quotient score and its subscales than typically developing individuals; however, gender differences were not apparent on total score. Possible cultural differences may explain some of the psychometric variations found. The results of this analysis revealed that the Autism Spectrum Quotient was a reliable instrument for investigating variation in autistic symptomology in both typically developing and Autism Spectrum Disorders populations within an Australian population.
doi:10.1155/2013/984205
PMCID: PMC3665170  PMID: 23762552
24.  Atypical Functional Connectivity of the Amygdala in Childhood Autism Spectrum Disorders during Spontaneous Attention to Eye-Gaze 
Autism Research and Treatment  2012;2012:652408.
We examined functional connectivity of the amygdala in preadolescent children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) during spontaneous attention to eye-gaze in emotional faces. Children responded to a target word (“LEFT/RIGHT”) printed on angry or fearful faces looking in a direction that was congruent, incongruent, or neutral with the target word. Despite being irrelevant to the task, gaze-direction facilitated (Congruent > Neutral) or interfered with (Incongruent > Congruent) performance in both groups. Despite similar behavioral performance, amygdala-connectivity was atypical and more widespread in children with ASD. In control children, the amygdala was more strongly connected with an emotional cognitive control region (subgenual cingulate) during interference, while during facilitation, no regions showed greater amygdala connectivity than in ASD children. In contrast, in children with ASD the amygdala was more strongly connected to salience and cognitive control regions (posterior and dorsal cingulate) during facilitation and with regions involved in gaze processing (superior temporal sulcus), cognitive control (inferior frontal gyrus), and processing of viscerally salient information (pregenual cingulate, anterior insula, and thalamus) during interference. These findings showing more widespread connectivity of the amygdala extend past findings of atypical functional anatomy of eye-gaze processing in children with ASD and challenge views of general underconnectivity in ASD.
doi:10.1155/2012/652408
PMCID: PMC3544253  PMID: 23326662
25.  Telehealth for Expanding the Reach of Early Autism Training to Parents 
Autism Research and Treatment  2012;2012:121878.
Although there is consensus that parents should be involved in interventions designed for young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), parent participation alone does not ensure consistent, generalized gains in children's development. Barriers such as costly intervention, time-intensive sessions, and family life may prevent parents from using the intervention at home. Telehealth integrates communication technologies to provide health-related services at a distance. A 12 one-hour per week parent intervention program was tested using telehealth delivery with nine families with ASD. The goal was to examine its feasibility and acceptance for promoting child learning throughout families' daily play and caretaking interactions at home. Parents became skilled at using teachable moments to promote children's spontaneous language and imitation skills and were pleased with the support and ease of telehealth learning. Preliminary results suggest the potential of technology for helping parents understand and use early intervention practices more often in their daily interactions with children.
doi:10.1155/2012/121878
PMCID: PMC3512210  PMID: 23227334

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