It’s well known that both parent report and observational measure are crucial to an autism diagnosis. But what about prior to a diagnosis, in the critical period of 12-18 months when symptoms may be seen but a diagnosis cannot yet be made? A research collaboration across Canada has been studying better detection and translating it to early intervention, and postdoc Lori Sacrey from University of Alberta took the lead on a multi-site study investigating the utility and contribution of a parent report measure together with an observational tool in toddlers. She found that the parent report measure provided insights which improved the ability to predict a later autism diagnosis. It is because of the collaboration across Canada that this research is possible. Also, the autism journal Autism took an unusual and bold step in ensuring that adults with autism are represented in their perspective. Hear why on this week’s podcast or read the link below:
This week two important studies which examine early influences of language development are explored. First, we are lucky that Dr. Aaron Shield from Miami University joined to explain why studying children who are deaf and have autism, as well as parents of deaf children, are important for understanding language development. He explores how autism is different and the same in those who are and are not deaf. Second, study of very early speech, even before language emerges, may help guide speech and language therapists about how they should be dividing their time in therapy in toddlers, especially those with a high probability of developing ASD. Thank you to both Drs. Shield and Chenausky for sharing their findings with us!
Happy 4th of July weekend. This week’s podcast is devoted to the studies in the past few months focusing on autism treatments that didn’t make it into the regular weekly roundup. They include data that shows promising results (peer networks and iPads) as well as those that didn’t do as well as hoped (social skills). There were also some that showed that some therapies just don’t have any good studies to show definitively if they are helpful or not. Take 8 minutes before the fireworks and listen to the latest on interventions of ASD.
This month, two new important research findings were published from scientists that study the very earliest signs and symptoms of autism. First, Dr. Suzanne Macari at Yale showed that a type of temperament in toddlers was associated with autism at about 3 years of age. This may be used in the future to develop specialized interventions very very early on. Meanwhile, Dr. Jessica Brian’s group in Canada used the very early signs of autism – social orienting – to develop a new intervention called the Social ABC’s which they piloted last year. Last week, a randomized clinical trial of this intervention showed improvements in social smiling, reactions to parents, and social orienting, suggesting it is a feasible and valid intervention option. There is now a list of these interventions that have been rigorously tested. This demonstrates that the early detection of features of autism, like temperament, can be turned into interventions to improve the outcome of toddlers with ASD.