Autism Research

Six Developmental Trajectories Characterize Children With Autism

Source: 
Pediatrics
Date Published: 
May 2012
Abstract: 

"OBJECTIVE: The goal of this study was to describe the typical longitudinal developmental trajectories of social and communication functioning in children with autism and to determine the correlates of these trajectories.
RESULTS: Six typical patterns of social, communication, and repetitive behavior functioning were identified. These trajectories displayed significant heterogeneity in developmental pathways, and children whose symptoms were least severe at first diagnosis tended to improve more rapidly than those severely affected. "

Infant Neural Sensitivity to Dynamic Eye Gaze Is Associated With Later Emerging Autism

Source: 
Current Biology
Date Published: 
February 21, 2012
Abstract: 

"Autism spectrum disorders (henceforth autism) are diagnosed in around 1% of the population [1]. Familial liability confers risk for a broad spectrum of difficulties including the broader autism phenotype (BAP) [2, 3]. There are currently no reliable predictors of autism in infancy, but characteristic behaviors emerge during the second year, enabling diagnosis after this age [4, 5]. Because indicators of brain functioning may be sensitive predictors, and atypical eye contact is characteristic of the syndrome [6-9] and the BAP [10, 11], we examined whether neural sensitivity to eye gaze during infancy is associated with later autism outcomes [12, 13]. We undertook a prospective longitudinal study of infants with and without familial risk for autism. At 6-10 months, we recorded infants' event-related potentials (ERPs) in response to viewing faces with eye gaze directed toward versus away from the infant [14]. Longitudinal analyses showed that characteristics of ERP components evoked in response to dynamic eye gaze shifts during infancy were associated with autism diagnosed at 36 months. ERP responses to eye gaze may help characterize developmental processes that lead to later emerging autism. Findings also elucidate the mechanisms driving the development of the social brain in infancy."

A Stable Pattern of EEG Spectral Coherence Distinguishes Children with Autism From Neuro-typical Controls - A Large Case Control Study

Source: 
BMC Medicine
Date Published: 
June 26, 2012
Abstract: 

"BACKGROUND: The autism rate has recently increased to 1 in 100 children. Genetic studies demonstrate poorly understood complexity. Environmental factors apparently also play a role. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies demonstrate increased brain sizes and altered connectivity. Electroencephalogram (EEG) coherence studies confirm connectivity changes. However, genetic-, MRI- and/or EEG-based diagnostic tests are not yet available. The varied study results likely reflect methodological and population differences, small samples and, for EEG, lack of attention to group-specific artifact.

RESULTS: Total sample PCA [principal components analysis] of coherence data identified 40 factors which explained 50.8% of the total population variance. For the 2- to 12-year-olds, the 40 factors showed highly significant group differences (P < 0.0001). Ten randomly generated split half replications demonstrated high-average classification success (C, 88.5%; ASD, 86.0%). Still higher success was obtained in the more restricted age sub-samples using the jackknifing technique: 2- to 4-year-olds (C, 90.6%; ASD, 98.1%); 4- to 6-year-olds (C, 90.9%; ASD 99.1%); and 6- to 12-year-olds (C, 98.7%; ASD, 93.9%). Coherence loadings demonstrated reduced short-distance and reduced, as well as increased, long-distance coherences for the ASD-groups, when compared to the controls. Average spectral loading per factor was wide (10.1 Hz)."

Temperament in the First 2 Years of Life in Infants at High-Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders

Source: 
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Date Published: 
August 24, 2012
Abstract: 

"The current study investigated early temperament in 54 infants at familial high-risk of ASD and 50 controls. Parental report of temperament was assessed around 7, 14 and 24 months of age and diagnostic assessment was conducted at 3 years. The high-risk group showed reduced Surgency at 7 and 14 months and reduced Effortful Control at 14 and 24 months, compared to controls. High-risk infants later diagnosed with ASD were distinguished from controls by a temperament profile marked by increased Perceptual Sensitivity from the first year of life, and increased Negative Affect and reduced Cuddliness in the second year of life. Temperament may be an important construct for understanding the early infant development of ASD."

Precursors to Social and Communication Difficulties in Infants At-Risk for Autism: Gaze Following and Attentional Engagement

Source: 
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Date Published: 
October 2012
Abstract: 

"Whilst joint attention (JA) impairments in autism have been widely studied, little is known about the early development of gaze following, a precursor to establishing JA. We employed eye-tracking to record gaze following longitudinally in infants with and without a family history of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at 7 and 13 months. No group difference was found between at-risk and low-risk infants in gaze following behaviour at either age. However, despite following gaze successfully at 13 months, at-risk infants with later emerging socio-communication difficulties (both those with ASD and atypical development at 36 months of age) allocated less attention to the congruent object compared to typically developing at-risk siblings and low-risk controls. The findings suggest that the subtle emergence of difficulties in JA in infancy may be related to ASD and other atypical outcomes."

Toward Brief “Red Flags” for Autism Screening: The Short Autism Spectrum Quotient and the Short Quantitative Checklist for Autism in Toddlers in 1,000 Cases and 3,000 Controls

Source: 
Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Date Published: 
February 2012
Abstract: 

Ten items were taken from the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) and the Quantitative Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (Q-CHAT) to develop brief screening tools for ASD. Researchers hope these new measures will help doctors decide whether to refer families for full diagnostic assessments.

Autism Genetic Testing: A Qualitative Study of Awareness, Attitudes, and Experiences among Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Source: 
Genetics in Medicine
Date Published: 
January 3, 2013
Abstract: 

This study provides insight into awareness, perspectives and experiences of ASD genetic testing among parents of autistic children.

The Autism Sequencing Consortium: Large-Scale, High-Throughput Sequencing in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Source: 
Neuron
Date Published: 
December 20, 2012
Abstract: 

Dr. Joseph Buxbaum and team discuss the current state of ASD gene discovery and the benefits of a genomic technology called high-throughput sequencing.

The Effects of A Weighted Vest on Aggressive and Self-injurious Behavior in a Child with Autism

Source: 
PubMed
Date Published: 
January 2, 2013
Abstract: 

Research finds that despite their frequent use, weighted vests have little effect on managing challenging behaviors in children with autism.

The Association Between Bullying and the Psychological Functioning of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Source: 
PubMed
Date Published: 
January 2, 2013
Abstract: 

A new study finds that children with ASD are more likely to be bullied compared to their typical peers. Children with ASD with an additional clinical or educational disorder have an increased risk of being bullied and becoming bullies themselves.