Tag Archives: early intervention

Video-based therapy may help treat infants at risk for autism

video based therapy for autism

In the year 2000, one child out of 150 children born was diagnosed with autism.  Today, one out of 68 children will now be affected by it.  As the number of children born with autism increases each year, doctors are attempting to treat the condition by testing children as early as three or four years old.

Early signs of autism in babies, such as not responding to their names by one year of age or not showing any interest in objects by 14 months, can be an indicator that therapy may be needed to prevent further advancement of the condition.  Some families have a relatively low risk of having a child born with autism, while other families are more likely to have a child who has the condition if they have a family history of autism.

Dr. Jonathan Green and his team at the University of Manchester in the UK are now studying the effects of an adapted Video Interaction for Promoting Positive Parenting Program (i-BASIS-VIPP), a new treatment for early onset autism in infants.  The treatment uses video feedback that allows parents to learn how to communicate with their child’s unique communication style.  Over time, this could help the child develop stronger communication and social skills.

With the help of a therapist, video recordings of parent-infant interactions are done privately in the parents’ home.  When reviewing the recordings, parents can view how they can improve their interactions with their infant.  The study used 54 families who had an infant between seven to 10 months old.  During a five month period, some families used i-BASIS-VIPP treatment, while the other families received no treatment.

At the end of the experiment, the Autism Observation Scale for Infants (AOSI) was used to determine autism scores of the infants in the study.  The infants of the families who used the new treatment showed improved attention and social behavior and had lower AOSI scores than the children who received no treatment at all.

Although the study has not yet proven to eliminate autism in babies, it is a stepping stone for more research that will reveal more about the effects of i-BASIS-VIPP and its possibilities of reducing early autism symptoms.

Mara Papleo, Cleveland State University



Quick Behavioral Observations Frequently Overlook Signs of Autism

Lynn Burton reads to her daughter Adelaide. Many toddlers her age are not receiving potentially life-saving autism screenings. | Medical XPress

Lynn Burton reads to her daughter Adelaide. Many toddlers her age are not receiving potentially life-saving autism screenings. | Medical XPress

Parents should not rely solely on a medical professional to detect a child’s autism, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics.

Research shows that bringing a child to a 10-20 minute pediatric behavior monitoring session is not sufficient to determine if a child has autism. Parents who trust that their child’s doctor will be thorough in their examination without paying attention to their child’s developmental signs day to day could be missing some key information.

These short sessions simply do not give the clinician enough time with your child to make an accurate diagnosis. The medical professional cannot gather enough information at a simple checkup. Thus, many children with autism will show normal behavior during this window, and will not get referred to a professional who can provide the treatment needed.

If autism symptoms are missed early on in a child’s life, they may miss a crucial point in their development in which early intervention is most effective. Autistic children who receive early intervention and treatment before age three have been shown to vastly conquer or eliminate their symptoms before entering school. Just like learning a new language, changing the child’s brain in this way becomes more difficult after they leave the toddler years behind.

In the study, ten minute videos of children ages 15-33 months were viewed by experts in the field. Children with autism, speech delays, and normal development were all included. It was found that the quick observation was not sufficient to gather accurate conclusions, and the experts missed 39 percent of the children with autism since they displayed typical behavior during this time.

The CDC reports that autism diagnoses have increased 30 percent during the past two years, when the statistic jumped from 1 in 88 to 1 in 68 children. This is why a correct diagnosis early on is especially important.

What this means for young children with autism is that they would benefit from more detailed observation. Exploring in-depth autism screenings and extra attention from parents are key steps in understanding a child’s development.

A parent usually knows their children more intimately than anyone else, and if educated properly, can recognize the symptoms of autism on their own, and alert the child’s care provider to determine the next step.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a formal autism screening for children at the 18 and 24 month mark. A few simple screening tools that help parents know the signs to look for are available to use free of charge. One of these is the M-CHAT-R Checklist. Another resource to use is the CDCs Learn The Signs, Act Early campaign.



Early Intervention: How Effective Is It?

early intervention success

Children are the most precious gifts that any mother could have.

Before the child even takes its first breath of air in this world, a mother carries him or her for a full for nine months. In those nine months, a woman is advised to take care of herself, her body, and her soon-to-be child by  exercising as much caution as possible with her daily routine. A mother creates a relationship with her child in those nine months through the simple things such as the way he or she may kick or move. As we all know, having a child comes great responsibility, no matter what kind of problems it may come with on both the physical and mental spectrum.

Normally, autistic children do not show noticeable signs of their disorder until they are around the age of three. Even though the signs may be hard to find when they are very young, there are ways to determine if your child may have autism. To begin, it is common for children that have autism to lag in their speech development. They cannot make certain sounds or many noises to “talk” or communicate with their loved ones, or whoever it may be. They also tend to be focused on one object or concept for a very long period of time, which makes it hard to direct his or her attention towards something else.

Kristin Hinson, who is a mother of four, participated in a study conducted by Sally Rogers, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral studies at UC Davis MIND Institute. Hinson began to see signs indicating that her son Noah may have autism when he was just nine months old. Rogers was curious what a difference it would make if parents intervened before their children were officially diagnosed with autism.

The study involved behavioral therapy for twelve weeks, in which Hinson was taught behavioral mechanisms and techniques, including sensory. Six other parents that saw signs of autism with their toddlers participated as well.  After therapy was over, 18 month-old Noah caught up developmentally with other children his age, if not even better. He became more engaged. Along with Noah, the six other children showed much more improvement.

The sample size for this study was small, so it is difficult to draw a conclusion stating that early intervention before age three can prevent autism symptoms from becoming severe later on. But in general, scientists do agree that early intervention can change the outcome for toddlers at risk for the disorder.

Taja Nicolle Kenney, Eerie Community College



The Benefits of Early Behavioral Intervention

Researchers have analyzed the success of early behavioral interventions. (photo: specialedpost.com)

According to researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, children on the autism spectrum have benefited tremendously from behavior-focused therapies, in comparison to those who did not receive the early behavioral intervention. The recent study updates the prior systematic reviews of interventions, with a focus on recent studies of behavioral interventions.

The review, which was conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, funded by Vanderbilt, states that the quality of research studies has improved dramatically within just 3 years, when authors reported that there were significant gaps in the research that documented the benefits of certain treatments. The new review provides evidence of the effectiveness of early intervention, specifically interventions with behavioral approaches based on applied behavioral analysis (ABA) principles.

Dr. Amy Weitlauf, assistant professor of Pediatrics and an investigator at Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, states, “We are finding more solid evidence, based on higher quality studies, that theseearly intensive behavioral interventions can be effective for young children on the autism spectrum, especially related to their cognitive and language skills.” Dr. Weitlauf continues, “We are also finding evidence that some of these targeted interventions, especially related to cognitive treatments for anxiety disorders, are also very effective for many, many children. Again, responses vary substantially and there are some children for whom these treatments have not yet been studied. So there is lots of promising evidence that these interventions are helpful, but we definitely need more research on which kids the treatments are more helpful for over time.”

Dr. Zachary Warren, director of TRIAD, the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center’s Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders, focused on the improvements in children receivingearly behavioral intervention. These children were documented to display impressive progress in cognitive, educational, and language skills. Dr. Warren states, “Given the potential for interventions to powerfully improve children’s quality of life, in combination with the significant costs and resources often associated with treatment, it is not surprising that many groups — parents, providers, policymakers, insurance providers — are searching for an enhanced understanding of which interventions work the best for children with ASD.”

One of the biggest topics facing medical experts is finding the fastest and most effective ways to diagnose a child with ASD, as the diagnosis will enable the child to receive theearly intervention that can truly make the biggest difference in their lives. This study is just one example of howearly behavioral intervention can build multiple skills in the child, and provide them the methods to grow in various aspects to live a life full of opportunities.



Autism & Epilepsy

 

Epilepsy is a brain disorder that is marked by recurring seizures or convulsions. It includes impaired social interaction and language development, which often leads to repetitive behaviors. The connection between these two neurological disorders came after another study that explored the mechanisms in the brain that are responsible for each and how they contribute to each disorder. For example, both disorders show patterns of impaired socialization.

A new study now examines the connection between the long-term outcome of epilepsy in autism and the epilepsy characteristics of adults with autism. The results estimate that nearly one third of people on the autism spectrum also have epilepsy.  Before these studies, many issues with behavior management and socialization for people with epilepsy remained largely under diagnosed, meaning these people did not have proper access to treatment they may have really needed.

This new research could mean that adults with epilepsy would be able to benefit from a wide range of autism treatment services and improving their overall quality of life. The highest epilepsy incidences actually happen within a child’s first year after being born. Each year, approximately 150,000 children and young adults in the U.S have a single seizure and 30,000 end up being diagnosed after they experience more seizures.

Some epileptic symptoms that are commonly overlooked by parents include:

–      Prolonged staring

–      Uncontrolled jerking of the arms and legs

–      Lack of response from verbal stimulation

–      Shaking or loss of balance

–      Smacking of the lips

The ICare4Autism International Autism Conference 2014 will have an entire day dedicated to scientific advances in autism research as well as new drug developments. For more information on this resource, CLICK HERE!

For original article, Click here!



Autism Screening App in the Making!

Researchers at Duke University are currently working on developing a software that tracks and records your infant’s activity during videotaped autism screening tests. They had very successful results in their trials, showing that the program has been just as good at spotting certain behavioral markers of autism as professionals who would be giving the test themselves and was actually more accurate than non-expert medical clinicians and students in training.

The study focuses on three specific behavioral tests that are used to identify young children who may be on the autism spectrum. The first test get’s the attention of the baby by shaking a toy on their left side and then counting how long it takes for them to shift their attention when the toy is moved to their right side. The second test examines the child’s ability to track motion as a toy passes across their field of view and looks for any delays. The last test involves rolling a ball to a child and seeing if they make any eye contact afterward, which would show some engagement with their play partner.

The new program allows for the person administering the tests to concentrate on the child while the program measures reactions times down to tenths of a second, giving much more accuratereadings. Amy Esler, assistant professor of pediatrics and autism at the University Minnesota, participated in some of these trials and says, “The great benefit of the video and software is for general practitioners who do not have the trained eye to look for subtle early warning signs of autismThese signs would signal to doctors that they need to refer a family to a specialist for a more detailed evaluation.”

Jordan Hashemi, a graduate student in computer and electrical engineering at Duke, further states that they are not trying to replace the experts by proposing this app, but rather are trying to provide a resource and tool for classrooms and homes across the country. They recognize the importance of early intervention and are hoping that this app can be a real tool in catalyzing how early we are able to help those on the autism spectrum.

For more information on how technology is paving the road to opportunity for children on the spectrum, look into day 3 of our upcoming International Autism Conference! Click here for more info! 

For more info on the Information Initiative at Duke and original article, click here.



Early intervention leads to better outcomes

Impaired social behavior and lack of eye contact is a trademark characteristic of autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

CLEVELAND, Ohio— Though most children are diagnosed by age 4, many researchers feel the earliest signs of autism can be detected in babies as young as six to 18 months old. Early intervention and identifying the signs early leads to better outcomes.

Because it can be difficult, especially for parents to identify the earliest signs of autism, the Kennedy Krieger Institute and other research groups have produced simple online videos comparing the behaviors of children with suspected autism to those of typically developing infants and toddlers.

Autism has shown a dramatic increase in the past decade in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, currently autism affects one in 88 children.

In a current long-term study of babies from birth to age 3 differences shown in eye contact as early as the second month of life when the babies watched videos showing actresses as caregivers. A study conducted by Emory University in Atlanta, researchers identified declines in eye contact beginning as early as between 2 and 6 months of age in children who later developed autism.

Pediatric neurologist and autism specialist Dr. Max Wiznitzer from the University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, said earlier work by the same group of Emory researchers also showed that children with autism spend more time focusing elsewhere, often on the mouth and less time focusing on the eyes when someone is speaking.

Impaired social behavior and lack of eye contact is a trademark characteristic of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Other symptoms can be difficult to spot, especially at a young age and vary widely.

Dr. Rebecca Landa of the Kennedy Krieger Institute helps explain in the institute’s 9-minute tutorial video some of the ASD behavioral signs in one-year-olds in six video clips comparing toddlers who show no signs of the disorder to those who show early signs of autism.

Though Wiznitzer indicates that parents should be cautious and not drawing any conclusions about their children from video alone, he states the video is particularly helpful because it lays out the behaviors to watch out for before each video clip. In typically developing children, these include sharing enjoyment by smiling at others while playing, sharing a toy with a parent or other adult, and imitating the motions of others while playing. Behaviors that are related to autism include an unusually strong interest in a toy or object, no engagement with other people during play, and no response to hearing his or her name.

“[The videos] can show you some of the early features of autism, but some of these behaviors can be seen in other developmental disorders, so if you have any concerns it’s important to have an expert evaluate your child,” he said.

For more information on early intervention and the signs and symptoms of autism, please visit: http://blog.hear-our-voices.org/category/early-intervention/

 



Temple Grandin Is At It Again

At a conference Wednesday in Montreal, Temple Grandin, known for her knowledge on autism and animal welfare and behavior, stood in front of the audience with a monumental presentation.

According to Grandin, who is now 66, she feels blessed to have been diagnosed with autism when she was 2 ½ years old. Furthermore, she alluded to figures such as Albert Einstein and Apple’s Steve Jobs, who perhaps would also be diagnosed with autism. “You wouldn’t have all these electronics and technology if it weren’t for all these geeks with mild autism,” Grandin suggested.[i]

Temple Grandin has been known for her advocacy of early intervention programs for young children diagnosed with autism. The earlier a child is diagnosed, the sooner he or she can begin therapy. Grandin believes in bringing out the exceptional skills children with autism possess, and to help them succeed. Instead of concentrating on what autistic kids struggle with, parents and therapists should encourage their strengths.

When a young girl presented Grandin with honey and a painting, she accepted it graciously and said, “Let me tell you, you’re professional grade. I’m serious. You’re very talented and you could turn this into a career. I’m all about careers.”

Let’s take Temple Grandin’s advice: realize the importance of early intervention for children diagnosed with autism, and try to bring out everything they could possibly offer to succeed.


[i] “The Gazette” Let autistic kids take a turn, author advises. 07 Nov 2013. Web. < http://www.montrealgazette.com/touch/story.html?id=9134398>



Study Sheds Light on Early Intervention, but Suggests All Treatment Types Are Equal

Autism professionals, especially early intervention specialists, prepare yourself for what you are about to read: a new study suggests that young children with autism will benefit from your services, but it may not matter which kind of method you are using. Now I know this may offend some readers, as specialists in the field feel strongly about their particular type of therapy service, but everyone is still in agreement that early intervention is crucial for the development of a child with autism.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill designed this study to compare the outcomes of the LEAP (Learning Experiences and Alternative Program for Preschoolers and their Parents) and TEACCH (known by its acronym and developed at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), and the effects of these approaches with special education programs that have no set model. 74 teachers and 198 3-5 year olds in public schools were involved in the study. Regardless of the model (or lack of model), children made progress over the school year as co-author Kara Hume explained,

“Each group of children showed significant positive change in autism severity, communication and fine-motor skills. No statistically significant differences were found among models, which challenged our initial expectations—and likely the field’s.” [i]

The cost of these therapies is sky rocketing, leaving the parents of these children in distress. Perhaps the results of this study will lead to a re-examination of therapies, reducing the costs for the parents.

Don’t worry, everyone is still in agreement as statistics prove that early intervention is crucial and beneficial for young children diagnosed with autism, but as co-author and principal investigator of the study, Samuel L. Odom, suggests, “Perhaps it’s not the unique features of the models that most contribute to child gains but the common features of the models that most influence child growth.”



[i] “Futurity” In preschool, autism treatment types are equal. 18 Jul 2013. Web. < http://www.futurity.org/health-medicine/in-preschool-autism-treatment-types-are-equal/>



Minnesota District Creates School for Children with Autism and Other Special Needs

Northeast Metro Intermediate School District 916 is dedicated to improving the lives of children with special needs, by sharing resources and costs for specialized programs. Karner Blue, a $15 million school set to open in the fall of 2014 in Blaine,Minnesota, will provide a friendly and calming atmosphere for children with autism and other emotional and behavioral disabilities.

The school will serve between 120 and 140 K-8 students, with more than 100 staff members. Professionals are aiding the architects in the design of the building, to ensure every aspect is being catered for the population, including quieter alarms and digital message boards in lieu of loud fire alarms and flashing strobe lights. The school will have an indoor playground, calming rooms, and intimate classroom settings to improve the education quality. Parents cannot ask to send their child to Karner Blue; rather, the child needs to be referred to the school by a professional if their original district cannot meet their educational needs. As of late, most special education classrooms have had typical classroom settings, which is not beneficial or effective for children with autism and other special needs.

The school will consist of four learning pods – forest, prairie, lake and river – to provide a calming nature theme for the students. There will be natural lighting with skylights and strategically placed windows 5 ½ feet from the ground, and no long hallways, to ensure that a behavioral tantrum does not become a “schoolwide spectacle.”

Val Rae Boe will be the principal of the school, and is helping the architects in the designing process,

“We’ve tried to design and develop a facility that would support their unique learning styles and support their behavioral needs, mental health needs including speech language and all the different related services the students need.” [i]

Shema Kolainu- Hear Our Voices can attest to the benefits of having a school designed for children with special needs. The Snoezelen Room, a multisensory room for the students, is proof that specialized rooms can produce positive outcomes for children with autism. Hopefully more schools across the country will follow this example of creating specialized schools for children with special needs, to provide the best possible education.



[i] “Star Tribune” New school under construction for kids with autism, behavioral disorders. 25 Jun 2013. Web. < http://www.startribune.com/local/north/212985221.html>