Autism Research and Treatment http://www.hindawi.com The latest articles from Hindawi Publishing Corporation © 2015 , Hindawi Publishing Corporation . All rights reserved. Gaze Behavior of Children with ASD toward Pictures of Facial Expressions Tue, 19 May 2015 09:09:34 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aurt/2015/617190/ Atypical gaze behavior in response to a face has been well documented in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Children with ASD appear to differ from typically developing (TD) children in gaze behavior for spoken and dynamic face stimuli but not for nonspeaking, static face stimuli. Furthermore, children with ASD and TD children show a difference in their gaze behavior for certain expressions. However, few studies have examined the relationship between autism severity and gaze behavior toward certain facial expressions. The present study replicated and extended previous studies by examining gaze behavior towards pictures of facial expressions. We presented ASD and TD children with pictures of surprised, happy, neutral, angry, and sad facial expressions. Autism severity was assessed using the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS). The results showed that there was no group difference in gaze behavior when looking at pictures of facial expressions. Conversely, the children with ASD who had more severe autistic symptomatology had a tendency to gaze at angry facial expressions for a shorter duration in comparison to other facial expressions. These findings suggest that autism severity should be considered when examining atypical responses to certain facial expressions. Soichiro Matsuda, Yasuyo Minagawa, and Junichi Yamamoto Copyright © 2015 Soichiro Matsuda et al. All rights reserved. Gait Deviations in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Review Thu, 02 Apr 2015 18:23:20 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aurt/2015/741480/ In recent years, it has become clear that children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) have difficulty with gross motor function and coordination, factors which influence gait. Knowledge of gait abnormalities may be useful for assessment and treatment planning. This paper reviews the literature assessing gait deviations in children with ASD. Five online databases were searched using keywords “gait” and “autism,” and 11 studies were found which examined gait in childhood ASD. Children with ASD tend to augment their walking stability with a reduced stride length, increased step width and therefore wider base of support, and increased time in the stance phase. Children with ASD have reduced range of motion at the ankle and knee during gait, with increased hip flexion. Decreased peak hip flexor and ankle plantar flexor moments in children with ASD may imply weakness around these joints, which is further exhibited by a reduction in ground reaction forces at toe-off in children with ASD. Children with ASD have altered gait patterns to healthy controls, widened base of support, and reduced range of motion. Several studies refer to cerebellar and basal ganglia involvement as the patterns described suggest alterations in those areas of the brain. Further research should compare children with ASD to other clinical groups to improve assessment and treatment planning. Deirdre Kindregan, Louise Gallagher, and John Gormley Copyright © 2015 Deirdre Kindregan et al. All rights reserved. Parent-Child Agreement Using the Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale and a Thermometer in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Thu, 02 Apr 2015 07:36:09 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aurt/2015/315495/ Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) experience high anxiety which often prompts clinical referral and requires intervention. This study aimed to compare parent and child reports on the Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale (SCAS) and a child-reported “worry thermometer” in 88 children aged 8–13 years, 44 with ASD and 44 age, gender, and perceptual IQ matched typically developing children. There were no gender differences in child report on the SCAS and worry thermometers. Results indicated generally good correlations between parent and child self-reported SCAS symptoms for typically developing children but poor agreement in parent-child ASD dyads. The worry thermometer child-report did not reflect child or parent reports on the SCAS. Findings suggest 8–13-year-old children with ASD may have difficulties accurately reporting their anxiety levels. The clinical implications were discussed. T. May, K. Cornish, and N. J. Rinehart Copyright © 2015 T. May et al. All rights reserved. Early Intervention with a Parent-Delivered Massage Protocol Directed at Tactile Abnormalities Decreases Severity of Autism and Improves Child-to-Parent Interactions: A Replication Study Tue, 24 Mar 2015 07:43:36 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aurt/2015/904585/ Tactile abnormalities are severe and universal in preschool children with autism. They respond well to treatment with a daily massage protocol directed at tactile abnormalities (QST massage for autism). Treatment is based on a model for autism proposing that tactile impairment poses a barrier to development. Two previous randomized controlled trials evaluating five months of massage treatment reported improvement of behavior, social/communication skills, and tactile and other sensory symptoms. This is the first report from a two-year replication study evaluating the protocol in 103 preschool children with autism. Parents gave daily treatment; trained staff gave weekly treatment and parent support. Five-month outcomes replicated earlier studies and showed normalization of receptive language (18%, ), autistic behavior (32%, ), total sensory abnormalities (38%, ), tactile abnormalities (49%, ), and decreased autism severity (medium to large effect size, ). In addition, parents reported improved child-to-parent interactions, bonding, and decreased parenting stress (44%, ). Early childhood special education programs are tasked with addressing sensory abnormalities and engaging parents in effective home programs. Until now, they have lacked research-based methods to do so. This program fulfills the need. It is recommended to parents and ECSE programs (ages 3–5) at autism diagnosis. Louisa M. T. Silva, Mark Schalock, Kristen R. Gabrielsen, Sarojini S. Budden, Martha Buenrostro, and Gretchen Horton Copyright © 2015 Louisa M. T. Silva et al. All rights reserved. Knowledge of Childhood Autism and Challenges of Management among Medical Doctors in Kaduna State, Northwest Nigeria Mon, 23 Mar 2015 12:21:57 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aurt/2015/892301/ Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder with serious implications in childhood. There is a significant gap in the identification and provision of health and social services for autism in Africa. The knowledge of autism among health care providers and identifying challenges associated with its management could facilitate bridging the gap and ensuring better outcomes. A self-administered tool, the Knowledge about Childhood Autism among Health Workers (KCAHW) questionnaire, was used in assessing knowledge of autism among 175 medical doctors (participants) attending an annual scientific meeting in northwest Nigeria. Other parameters assessed were sociodemographic and professional characteristics of the participants and challenges encountered in the management of autism. Out of 175 questionnaires distributed, 167 (95.4%) were returned. Good knowledge (KCAHW score ≥15) was significantly associated with being a paediatrician or psychiatrist and practicing in a tertiary health facility (), while poor knowledge (KCAHW score <15) was significant among general practitioners (). The highest knowledge gap was associated with onset of autism and its comorbidities (KCAHW Domain 4) while the least was concerning communication impairments (KCAHW Domain 2). Major challenges encountered in autism management were dearth of specialist services, cost of evaluation, and poor caregiver perspectives of autism. E. E. Eseigbe, F. T. Nuhu, T. L. Sheikh, P. Eseigbe, K. A. Sanni, and V. O. Olisah Copyright © 2015 E. E. Eseigbe et al. All rights reserved. Preliminary Efficacy of Adapted Responsive Teaching for Infants at Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder in a Community Sample Sun, 11 Jan 2015 06:33:21 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aurt/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. Grace T. Baranek, Linda R. Watson, Lauren Turner-Brown, Samuel H. Field, Elizabeth R. Crais, Linn Wakeford, Lauren M. Little, and J. Steven Reznick Copyright © 2015 Grace T. Baranek et al. All rights reserved. Temporal Synchrony Detection and Associations with Language in Young Children with ASD Mon, 29 Dec 2014 06:37:32 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aurt/2014/678346/ Temporally synchronous audio-visual stimuli serve to recruit attention and enhance learning, including language learning in infants. Although few studies have examined this effect on children with autism, it appears that the ability to detect temporal synchrony between auditory and visual stimuli may be impaired, particularly given social-linguistic stimuli delivered via oral movement and spoken language pairings. However, children with autism can detect audio-visual synchrony given nonsocial stimuli (objects dropping and their corresponding sounds). We tested whether preschool children with autism could detect audio-visual synchrony given video recordings of linguistic stimuli paired with movement of related toys in the absence of faces. As a group, children with autism demonstrated the ability to detect audio-visual synchrony. Further, the amount of time they attended to the synchronous condition was positively correlated with receptive language. Findings suggest that object manipulations may enhance multisensory processing in linguistic contexts. Moreover, associations between synchrony detection and language development suggest that better processing of multisensory stimuli may guide and direct attention to communicative events thus enhancing linguistic development. Elena Patten, Linda R. Watson, and Grace T. Baranek Copyright © 2014 Elena Patten et al. All rights reserved. How Sex of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Access to Treatment Services Relates to Parental Stress Sun, 14 Dec 2014 00:10:20 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aurt/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. Irina Zamora, Eliza K. Harley, Shulamite A. Green, Kathryn Smith, and Michele D. Kipke Copyright © 2014 Irina Zamora et al. All rights reserved. Mild Dermatoglyphic Deviations in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Average Intellectual Abilities as Compared to Typically Developing Boys Wed, 19 Nov 2014 00:00:00 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aurt/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; ) and typically developing adolescent teenage males (TD; ). 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. Esther I. de Bruin, John H. Graham, Anneke Louwerse, and Anja C. Huizink Copyright © 2014 Esther I. de Bruin et al. All rights reserved. Experiences of Dental Care and Dental Anxiety in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder Tue, 28 Oct 2014 11:51:26 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aurt/2014/238764/ Dental anxiety is associated with previous distressing dental experiences, such as lack of understanding of the dentist intentions, perceptions of uncontrollability and experiences of pain during dental treatment. People with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are impaired in building flexible predictions and expectations, which is very much needed during a dental visit. The aims of the study were to investigate if people with ASD have more negative dental experiences and a higher level of dental anxiety compared to a matched control group. Forty-seven adults with ASD and of normal intellectual performance, and 69 age- and sex-matched typically developing controls completed questionnaires on previous dental experiences and dental anxiety, the Dental Anxiety Scale, and the Dental Beliefs Survey. The ASD group experienced pain during dental treatments more often than the controls and 22% had repeatedly experienced being forced to dental treatment they were not prepared for, compared to 3% of the controls. A higher level of dental anxiety was reported by the ASD group. Dental treatment and methods for supporting the communication with patients with ASD need to be developed, in order to reduce the negative dental experiences and dental anxiety in people with ASD. My Blomqvist, Göran Dahllöf, and Susanne Bejerot Copyright © 2014 My Blomqvist et al. All rights reserved. A Randomised Control Trial of the Impact of a Computer-Based Activity Programme upon the Fitness of Children with Autism Tue, 07 Oct 2014 13:09:11 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aurt/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. Kathleen Dickinson and Maurice Place Copyright © 2014 Kathleen Dickinson and Maurice Place. All rights reserved. Physical Activity and Physical Fitness of School-Aged Children and Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders Tue, 16 Sep 2014 07:27:08 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aurt/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 () in comparison to typically developing peers (). 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 (), while ANCOVA revealed significant between-group effects in sedentary (), light (), moderate (), and total moderate-to-vigorous () 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. Kiley Tyler, Megan MacDonald, and Kristi Menear Copyright © 2014 Kiley Tyler et al. All rights reserved. Mental Health Services for Individuals with High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder Wed, 03 Sep 2014 15:39:51 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aurt/2014/502420/ Adolescents and adults with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who do not have an intellectual impairment or disability (ID), described here as individuals with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (HFASD), represent a complex and underserved psychiatric population. While there is an emerging literature on the mental health needs of children with ASD with normal intelligence, we know less about these issues in adults. Of the few studies of adolescents and adults with HFASD completed to date, findings suggest that they face a multitude of cooccurring psychiatric (e.g., anxiety, depression), psychosocial, and functional issues, all of which occur in addition to their ASD symptomatology. Despite this, traditional mental health services and supports are falling short of meeting the needs of these adults. This review highlights the service needs and the corresponding gaps in care for this population. It also provides an overview of the literature on psychiatric risk factors, identifies areas requiring further study, and makes recommendations for how existing mental health services could include adults with HFASD. Johanna K. Lake, Andrea Perry, and Yona Lunsky Copyright © 2014 Johanna K. Lake et al. All rights reserved. Tsc2 Haploinsufficiency Has Limited Effects on Fetal Brain Cytokine Levels during Gestational Immune Activation Wed, 09 Jul 2014 07:03:00 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aurt/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. Dan Ehninger Copyright © 2014 Dan Ehninger. All rights reserved. Computer Vision Tools for Low-Cost and Noninvasive Measurement of Autism-Related Behaviors in Infants Sun, 22 Jun 2014 12:22:07 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aurt/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. Jordan Hashemi, Mariano Tepper, Thiago Vallin Spina, Amy Esler, Vassilios Morellas, Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos, Helen Egger, Geraldine Dawson, and Guillermo Sapiro Copyright © 2014 Jordan Hashemi et al. All rights reserved. Defining Autism: Variability in State Education Agency Definitions of and Evaluations for Autism Spectrum Disorders Mon, 02 Jun 2014 11:00:31 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aurt/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. Malinda L. Pennington, Douglas Cullinan, and Louise B. Southern Copyright © 2014 Malinda L. Pennington et al. All rights reserved. Parent Training Interventions for Toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorder Wed, 07 May 2014 13:05:53 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aurt/2014/839890/ Background. Now that early identification of toddlers with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is possible, efforts are being made to develop interventions for children under three years of age. Most studies on early intervention have focused on intensive and individual interventions. However, parent training interventions that help parents interact and communicate with their toddlers with ASD might be a good alternative to promote the development of their child’s sociocommunicative skills. Objective. This review aims to systematically examine (1) the use of parent training interventions for children with ASD under three years of age and (2) their effects on children’s development, parents’ well-being and parent-child interactions. Methods. Systematic searches were conducted to retrieve studies in which at least one parent was trained to implement ASD-specific techniques with their toddlers (0–36 months old) with a diagnosis of or suspected ASD. Results. Fifteen studies, involving 484 children (mean age: 23.26 months), were included in this review. Only two of them met criteria for conclusive evidence. Results show that parents were able to implement newly learned strategies and were generally very satisfied with parent training programs. However, findings pertaining to the children’s communication and socioemotional skills, parent-child interactions, and parental well-being were inconclusive. Audrée Jeanne Beaudoin, Guillaume Sébire, and Mélanie Couture Copyright © 2014 Audrée Jeanne Beaudoin et al. All rights reserved. Characteristics of Children Who Lost the Diagnosis of Autism: A Sample from Istanbul, Turkey Sun, 27 Apr 2014 08:01:02 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aurt/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 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 and , respectively. The mean IQ of the group at final examination was . 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. Nahit Motavalli Mukaddes, Mustafa Deniz Tutkunkardas, Oktay Sari, Aydan Aydin, and Pınar Kozanoglu Copyright © 2014 Nahit Motavalli Mukaddes et al. All rights reserved. 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 Thu, 03 Apr 2014 06:17:28 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aurt/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. Dina Tell, Denise Davidson, and Linda A. Camras Copyright © 2014 Dina Tell et al. All rights reserved. Minor Physical Anomalies in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Healthy Controls Mon, 24 Mar 2014 13:29:35 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aurt/2014/743482/ Minor Physical Anomalies (MPAs) are subtle abnormalities of the head, face, and limbs, without significant cosmetic or functional impact to the individual. They are assumed to represent external markers of developmental deviations during foetal life. MPAs have been suggested to indicate severity in mental illness and constitute external markers for atypical brain development. Higher frequencies of MPAs can be found in children with autism. The aims of the present study were to examine the prevalence and patterns of MPAs in adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and to investigate whether MPAs are associated with symptom severity and overall functioning. Fifty adults with ASD and intelligence within the normal range and 53 healthy controls were examined with the Waldrop scale, an instrument for assessing MPAs. Face and feet were photographed enabling blinded assessment. Significant differences between the ASD and the control group were found on the MPA total scores, and also in the craniofacial region scores. Moreover, the shape of the ears was associated with autistic traits, in the ASD group. High MPA total scores were associated with poorer functioning. The findings suggest a link between MPAs, autistic traits, and level of functioning. Assessment of MPAs may assist in the diagnostic procedure of psychiatric disorders. Irina Manouilenko, Jonna M. Eriksson, Mats B. Humble, and Susanne Bejerot Copyright © 2014 Irina Manouilenko et al. All rights reserved. Conceptualisation and Development of a Quality of Life Measure for Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Thu, 20 Mar 2014 10:49:40 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aurt/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. Valsamma Eapen, Rudi Črnčec, Amelia Walter, and Kwok Ping Tay Copyright © 2014 Valsamma Eapen et al. All rights reserved. Measuring Outcome in an Early Intervention Program for Toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Use of a Curriculum-Based Assessment Mon, 10 Mar 2014 08:24:50 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aurt/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. Elizabeth C. Bacon, Sarah Dufek, Laura Schreibman, Aubyn C. Stahmer, Karen Pierce, and Eric Courchesne Copyright © 2014 Elizabeth C. Bacon et al. All rights reserved. Potential Role of Selenoenzymes and Antioxidant Metabolism in relation to Autism Etiology and Pathology Wed, 05 Mar 2014 08:43:53 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aurt/2014/164938/ Autism and autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are behaviorally defined, but the biochemical pathogenesis of the underlying disease process remains uncharacterized. Studies indicate that antioxidant status is diminished in autistic subjects, suggesting its pathology is associated with augmented production of oxidative species and/or compromised antioxidant metabolism. This suggests ASD may result from defects in the metabolism of cellular antioxidants which maintain intracellular redox status by quenching reactive oxygen species (ROS). Selenium-dependent enzymes (selenoenzymes) are important in maintaining intercellular reducing conditions, particularly in the brain. Selenoenzymes are a family of ~25 genetically unique proteins, several of which have roles in preventing and reversing oxidative damage in brain and endocrine tissues. Since the brain’s high rate of oxygen consumption is accompanied by high ROS production, selenoenzyme activities are particularly important in this tissue. Because selenoenzymes can be irreversibly inhibited by many electrophiles, exposure to these organic and inorganic agents can diminish selenoenzyme-dependent antioxidant functions. This can impair brain development, particularly via the adverse influence of oxidative stress on epigenetic regulation. Here we review the physiological roles of selenoproteins in relation to potential biochemical mechanisms of ASD etiology and pathology. Laura J. Raymond, Richard C. Deth, and Nicholas V. C. Ralston Copyright © 2014 Laura J. Raymond et al. All rights reserved. Disability Identification and Self-Efficacy among College Students on the Autism Spectrum Sun, 23 Feb 2014 13:59:52 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aurt/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. Paul T. Shattuck, Jessica Steinberg, Jennifer Yu, Xin Wei, Benjamin P. Cooper, Lynn Newman, and Anne M. Roux Copyright © 2014 Paul T. Shattuck et al. All rights reserved. The Relationship of HLA Class I and II Alleles and Haplotypes with Autism: A Case Control Study Mon, 03 Feb 2014 09:04:20 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aurt/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 (, OR 2.68), A*02 (, OR 3.02) and HLA-B*07 (, OR 3.27), were significantly associated with autism. Also, the haplotype A*02-B*07 was significantly higher in autistic patients than in controls (, OR 5.83). In class II, DRB1*1104 was significantly higher in patients than in controls (, OR 8.75). The DQB1*0202 ( OR 0.24), DQB1*0302 ( OR 0.14), and DQB1*0501 ( OR 0.25), were negatively associated with disease. While the four-loci genotype study showed that A*01-B*07-DRB1*0701-DQB1*0602 ( OR 41.9) and the A*31-B*51-DRB1*0103-DQB1*0302 ( 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. Manan Al-Hakbany, Sitalbanat Awadallah, and Laila AL-Ayadhi Copyright © 2014 Manan Al-Hakbany et al. All rights reserved. No Differences in Emotion Recognition Strategies in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Evidence from Hybrid Faces Sun, 05 Jan 2014 13:08:47 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aurt/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. Kris Evers, Inneke Kerkhof, Jean Steyaert, Ilse Noens, and Johan Wagemans Copyright © 2014 Kris Evers et al. All rights reserved. Dietary Intake and Plasma Levels of Choline and Betaine in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders Mon, 16 Dec 2013 09:29:13 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aurt/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. Joanna C. Hamlin, Margaret Pauly, Stepan Melnyk, Oleksandra Pavliv, William Starrett, Tina A. Crook, and S. Jill James Copyright © 2013 Joanna C. Hamlin et al. All rights reserved. Utility of Teacher-Report Assessments of Autistic Severity in Japanese School Children Wed, 11 Dec 2013 14:51:16 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aurt/2013/373240/ Recent studies suggest that many children with milder autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are undiagnosed, untreated, and being educated in mainstream classes without support and that school teachers might be the best persons to identify a child’s social deviance. At present, only a few screening measures using teacher ratings of ASD have been validated. The aim of this study was to examine the utility of teacher ratings on the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS), a quantitative measure of ASD. We recruited 130 participants aged 4 to 17 years from local schools or local pediatric outpatient clinics specializing in neurodevelopmental disorders that included 70 children with ASD. We found that the teacher-report SRS can be reliably and validly applied to children as a screening tool or for other research purposes, and it also has cross-cultural comparability. Although parent-teacher agreement was satisfactory overall, a discrepancy existed for children with ASD, especially for girls with ASD. To improve sensitivity in children at higher risk, especially girls, we cannot overstate the importance of using standardized norms specific to gender, informant, and culture. Yoko Kamio, Aiko Moriwaki, and Naoko Inada Copyright © 2013 Yoko Kamio et al. All rights reserved. Back to Basic: Do Children with Autism Spontaneously Look at Screen Displaying a Face or an Object? Sun, 08 Dec 2013 13:32:02 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aurt/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. Marie Guimard-Brunault, Nadia Hernandez, Laetitia Roché, Sylvie Roux, Catherine Barthélémy, Joëlle Martineau, and Frédérique Bonnet-Brilhault Copyright © 2013 Marie Guimard-Brunault et al. All rights reserved. The Michigan Autism Spectrum Questionnaire: A Rating Scale for High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders Thu, 05 Dec 2013 14:55:59 +0000 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aurt/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, ). 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. M. Ghaziuddin and K. Welch Copyright © 2013 M. Ghaziuddin and K. Welch. All rights reserved.