Tag Archives: diagnosis

The Autism Impact Measure: The New Gold Standard

Autism Impact Measure

Tools, measures, and assessments for diagnosing what is now called Autism Spectrum Disorder have been around since the early 1960s when treatment plans began to take shape.

ASD first appeared as ‘Infant Autism’ in 1980 in the DSM III. Since then, the name, markers, and symptoms for autism have changed in almost every version of the DSM up until the umbrella term Autism Spectrum Disorder was used. Through the years, many types of tools have been created to diagnose cases of ASD, and many adhered to the definition and symptoms described in the current version of the DSM (III through V). 

Currently, the DSM V has made major changes to how autism is seen in the clinical world, and the diagnosing process has widened the spectrum. Previously, the two ‘gold standards’ of diagnosing tools were the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), and the Autism Diagnostic Interview Revised (ADI-R). While these two still hold the spots for top diagnostic tools, they have many limitations that call for a revision of assessments. 

The ADOS and ADI-R, while reliable in diagnosing cases, are not well suited to assess and track the outcome measures of treatments, meaning that they are unable to assess chances in core symptoms of ASD over time. These tools focus on placing an individual onto the spectrum through ‘categorical caseness’, which leaves no room for changes in core symptom expression during and after treatments. Luckily, there is a new player in town.

In 2013, Kanne and his team created a new measure for assessing and diagnosing cases of ASD while focusing on a “finer gradation of symptom expression both short and long term”. The Autism Impact Measure, or AIM, targets the sensitivity of changes in core ASD symptoms during and after treatment sessions. The assessment itself is a 24 item questionnaire which looks at frequency and intensity of behaviours and symptoms of the individual. It has proven to have high reliability and validity when measured by professionals in the field.

This measure would be issued by a behavioral therapist during a regular session with the individual. It is used with a 2 week recall period, meaning that the initial measure is followed up two weeks after with a second assessment. Using this assessment tool in regular treatment settings allows for the individual’s immediate team to watch as their symptoms change in a natural fluid way, rather than have the individual placed on a scale and have them stagnate there. This means that if the the ‘gold standard’ becomes the Autism Impact Measure, individuals would have a constantly updated version of their symptoms on file, as well as a completely tailored treatment plan that would help them thrive.

By Sydney Chasty, Carleton University



Air Pollution Affects Autism: Solutions & Success Stories

A new research study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives this March found a direct correlation between Autism Spectrum Disorders and exposure to air pollution, particularly from traffic. Researchers from the Department of Epidemiology of University of California, Los Angeles, and the Department of Preventive Medicine of University of Southern California, estimated exposure to toxins for a controlled population of children diagnosed with ASD between 3-5 years of age, born in Los Angeles. The study utilized data from air monitoring stations and a land use regression (LUR) model to identify each specific child’s exposure rate. The findings suggest a 12-15% increase in risk for autism when exposed to ozone and 3-9% increase when exposed nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide.[i] A mother and, now, clean air activist, shares the story of her son’s autism diagnosis and recovery. Bridget James was concerned about the poor air quality surrounding her home in Utah before becoming pregnant, but was relieved when her son, Park, demonstrated a pretty strong immune system in his first couple years. It was not until Park was diagnosed autistic at 2-years-of-age that Bridget’s suspicions were confirmed. However, the diagnosis did not last. Bridget, having worked with autistic youth prior to becoming a mother, new the signs and symptoms of autism and took a proactive approach. She researched toxic exposure and took every possible precaution to relieve and prevent pollutants for Park. She altered his diet, administered heavy metal detoxes, and tried her best to protect him from the harsh Utah air. Soon, Park was making eye contact with Bridget again. He began to socialize and had a greater attention span. Bridget describes her son’s changes as “coming back”[ii] to her. While researchers believe there are a variety of causes for Autism Spectrum Disorders, the study ‘Ambient Air Pollution and Autism in Los Angeles County, California’ provides further evidence of environmental contributions to the onset of ASD. Bridget and Park’s story is hopeful, perhaps for prevention, but certainly for the easing of symptoms associated with ASD.  To read me about Bridget’s detoxing strategies and success, click here. For the full report of research findings, click here.

 

 



[i] Becerra, Tracy A., Michelle Wilhelm, Jørn Olsen, Myles Cockburn, and Beate Ritz. “Ambient Air Pollution and Autism in Los Angeles County, California.”Environmental Health Perspective 121.3 (2013): 380-86. Mar. 2013. Web. 22 Apr. 2013. <http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/pdf-files/2013/Mar/ehp.1205827_508.pdf>.

 

[ii] James, Bridget. “Autism, Air Pollution, And My Son.” Care2. N.p., 20 Apr. 2013. Web. 22 Apr. 2013. <http://www.care2.com/greenliving/autism-air-pollution-and-my-son.html>.

 



Different ways to Celebrate Autism Awareness Month

Different ways to Celebrate Autism Awareness MonthAs a parent of a child of autism it is very easy to get behind a movement such as Autism Awareness Month but a bit harder to figure out how to put this into action.  Friends and family of those affected by autism are the least likely to need awareness raising but here are some ways to make the most of Autism Awareness Month. Continue reading