Autism Research

Application of DSM-5 Criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder to Three Samples of Children with DSM-IV Diagnoses of Pervasive Developmental Disorders

Source: 
The American Journal of Psychiatry
Date Published: 
October 2012
Abstract: 

"OBJECTIVE: Substantial revisions to the DSM-IV criteria for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) have been proposed in efforts to increase diagnostic sensitivity and specificity. This study evaluated the proposed DSM-5 criteria for the single diagnostic category of autism spectrum disorder in children with DSM-IV diagnoses of pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs) and non-PDD diagnoses.

CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that most children with DSM-IV PDD diagnoses would remain eligible for an ASD diagnosis under the proposed DSM-5 criteria. Compared with the DSM-IV criteria for Asperger's disorder and PDD-NOS, the DSM-5 ASD criteria have greater specificity, particularly when abnormalities are evident from both parents and clinical observation."

Outcomes in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Historical Perspective

Source: 
Autism
Date Published: 
August 21, 2012
Abstract: 

"In this review, we examine the ways in which researchers have defined successful adult outcomes for individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) from the first systematic follow-up reports to the present day. The earliest outcome studies used vague and unreliable outcome criteria, and institutionalization was a common marker of poor outcomes. In the past decade, researchers have begun to standardize the measurement of adult outcomes with specific criteria based on friendships, employment, and living arrangements. Although nearly all of these studies have agreed that the majority of adults with ASD have poor outcomes, evolving concepts of what it means to be an adult could have an impact on outcomes measured. For example, some researchers have suggested that taking into account the person-environment fit could reveal a more optimistic picture of outcomes for these adults. Suggestions for future research are discussed."

Blood-based Gene Expression Signatures of Infants and Toddlers with Autism.

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

"OBJECTIVE: Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are highly heritable neurodevelopmental disorders that onset clinically during the first years of life. ASD risk biomarkers expressed early in life could significantly impact diagnosis and treatment, but no transcriptome-wide biomarker classifiers derived from fresh blood samples from children with autism have yet emerged.

RESULTS: Potential ASD biomarkers were discovered in one-half of the sample and used to build a classifier, with high diagnostic accuracy in the remaining half of the sample."

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.