Social Skills

Intervention Targeting Development of Socially Synchronous Engagement in Toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Source: 
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Date Published: 
January 2011
Year Published: 
2011

Two-year-olds with ASD showed improved social skills after completing an intervention targeting core social deficits in autism. It is the first randomized controlled trial to test such an intervention in toddlers and gives promise that a supplementary curriculum could improve social and communication skills in very young children. The researchers randomly assigned 50 toddlers with ASD, aged 21 to 33 months, to receive either an intervention called Interpersonal Synchrony - which targets social imitation, joint attention skills, and sharing of emotions - or a comparison intervention that does not target these specific social skills. Both six-month interventions were used for 10 hours per week in the classroom, and parents in both groups were given similar levels of training to continue the intervention at home. While toddlers in both groups showed gains in social, cognitive, and language skills during the study, children who received the Interpersonal Synchrony intervention, which encouraged them to communicate and play with others, had the greatest progress. At the end of the six months, these children had more than doubled the instances in which they engaged in social imitation (such as imitating the way a parent plays with a toy or mimicking a facial expression), while also making eye contact. Social imitation is believed to be critical in developing social communication skills -- deficits in such core social skills are a defining characteristic of autism. Importantly, children in the Interpersonal Synchrony group were able to generalize their newly developed skills to new people and settings. While their progress slowed in the six months following the end of the intervention, they did not lose any of the skills gained, unlike children in the comparison group who showed poorer social communication skills at the six-month follow-up.

--IACC 2011 Summary of Advances in ASD Research

Toddlers With Autism Show Improved Social Skills Following Targeted Intervention

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
December 9, 2010
Abstract: 

Targeting the core social deficits of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in early intervention programs yielded sustained improvements in social and communication skills even in very young children who have ASD, according to a study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health.

Autism Treatment: Researchers Identify Possible Treatment for Impaired Sociability

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
December 8, 2010
Abstract: 

Eastern Virginia Medical School researchers have identified a potential novel treatment strategy for the social impairment of people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), an aspect of the condition that has a profound impact on quality of life.

Changes in Prefrontal Axons May Disrupt the Network in Autism

Source: 
Journal of Neuroscience, Zikopoulos and Barbas
Date Published: 
December 2010
Year Published: 
2010

A post-mortem investigation measuring features of the different axons traveling beneath the cortical surface. The crux of the study is whether in autism there are changes in axons, "which are the conduit for neural communication." In comparison to control samples, autism brain tissue had fewer large axons connecting regions of the prefrontal cortex to the other areas of cortex.  Added to this connection imbalance is a thinner coat of axon insulation, called myelin. These findings may help explain why individuals with autism do not adequately shift attention, engage in repetitive behavior, and avoid social interactions.

New Approach Finds Success In Teaching Youth With Autism

Source: 
Medical News Today
Date Published: 
November 22, 2010

As the number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders continues to increase, the one thing that won't change is the need for those children to develop social skills. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri are developing an effective social competence curriculum, with a virtual classroom component, that could help educators meet the demand of this growing population.

Hormone Oxytocin Improves Social Cognition but Only in Less Socially Proficient Individuals

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
September 21, 2010
Abstract: 

Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine have found that the naturally-occurring hormone oxytocin selectively improves social cognitive abilities for less socially proficient individuals, but has little effect on those who are more socially proficient. While more research is required, these results highlight the potential oxytocin holds for treating social deficits in people with disorders marked by deficits in social functioning like autism.

Study Finds that Cognitive Skills in Children with Autism Vary and Improve

Source: 
Medical News Today
Date Published: 
September 17, 2010
Abstract: 

Although previous research has reported little change over time in theory of mind and executive function skills of children with ASD, this longitudinal study found that most of the children's skills in these areas improved considerably over time: Most of the children had better appreciation of others' thoughts and feelings, and they were better able to plan, regulate, and control their thoughts and actions over the study's three years.

Seaside Therapeutics Reports Positive Data from Phase 2 Study of STX209 in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Source: 
Seaside Therapeutics
Date Published: 
September 9, 2010
Abstract: 

Seaside Therapeutics reported findings on STX209 at the 42nd Autism Society National Conference. STX209 is a selective gamma-amino butyric acid type B (GABA-B) receptor agonist being studied for the treatment of ASD and fragile X syndrome (FXS).

As previously reported, STX209 demonstrated statistically significant improvements across a number of global and specific neurobehavioral outcomes in the open-label Phase 2a study, including significant improvements in social impairment—a core symptom of ASD.

Minocycline Promising in Fragile X Syndrome

Source: 
Medscape Today
Date Published: 
September 7, 2010
Abstract: 

Parents of children with fragile X syndrome report that minocycline led to positive improvements in language, attention levels and behavior. They also report experiencing adverse side effects such as mild gastrointestinal issues and some increased irritability.

Infants Gaze May Be an Early, but Subtle, Marker for Autism Risk

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
September 1, 2010
Abstract: 

Kennedy Krieger Institute have announced new study results showing an early marker for later communication and social delays in infants at a higher-risk for autism may be infrequent gazing at other people when unprompted. The study also found that six-month-old high-risk infants demonstrated the same level of cause and effect learning skills when compared to low-risk infants of the same age.