7/19 - Latest in Autism News

A Sister's Dream: 10-Year-Old Raises Thousands for Autism Research

A 12-year-old girl was inspired to develop an app with her friends thanks to her sister, who is on the autism spectrum.

Eashana Subramanian said she noticed how having a routine was important to her 9-year-old sister, Meghana.

"Meghana follows a very strict routine," the girls' mother, Gayathri, told ABC News. "Every day in the morning it starts with brushing her teeth, combing her hair, dressing up and getting ready for school. She has to know what comes next because if you make her do something that she's not expecting then she throws a tantrum. ... It throws the rest of the day off."

"My parents struggle with giving [Meghana] tasks because they don't know what's happening in school because the communication is not that great between the teachers and parents," Eashana added. "I looked at all these problems and said this had to be solved somehow or made easier for my parents. So I thought of AutBuddy that could have features to fix the problems -- not fix but help."

So, Eashana and her middle school friends in Derwood, Maryland, developed an app called "AutBuddy" that helps children on the autism spectrum maintain a routine at home and in school.

Eashana, 12, and Meghana Subramanian, 9, with their parents after AutBuddy won the 2016 Verizon App Challenge.

The customizable app allows parents and teachers to communicate in real time, along with other functions to help "children on the spectrum function on the same level," the sixth-grader said.

AutBuddy was developed by Eashana along with students in the Adventure in Science Club, a Maryland-based nonprofit group that promotes science, technology, engineering and math education. The team, headed up by adviser Siva Reddy, also included Madhuri Kola, Ojas Jagtap, Raiyan Rizwan, Neha Chandra and special education teacher Bindu Tupakula. They were one of nine student teams who won $20,000 in the 2016 Verizon App Challenge.

The team will now work with members of the MIT Media Lab to produce the app. According to Gayathri, it will launch on Google Play on June 1.

July 19, ABC News



7/18 - Latest in Autism News

While a positive outcome, researchers believe this increase represents only a fraction of the children in the United States living with autism spectrum disorder

State mandates requiring commercial health plans to cover the cost of services for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have resulted in an increased number of children being diagnosed and treated for ASD, according to new research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The findings will be published in the July 11th issue of JAMA Pediatrics.

ASD is characterized by impairments in social communication and repetitive behaviors. Its incidence has risen from one in 150 children in 2004 to one in 68 children in 2010. Treatment can require up to 25 hours per week of educational and behavioral interventions for several years. Until recently, the high costs associated with care for children with ASD were not covered by most commercial insurance plans.

In 2001, Indiana became the first state to mandate that behavioral treatments for ASD be covered through commercial health insurance benefits; many other states followed suit starting in 2008. Currently, 44 states have implemented an autism mandate with the idea that it would remove the financial barrier to families that had prevented many children from being diagnosed and treated for ASD.

But, is it working?

A team from Penn's department of Psychiatry, led by David Mandell, ScD, a professor and director of the Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research, are the first to embark on research to find out.

Mandell and colleagues examined inpatient and outpatient health insurance claims for children 21 years and younger covered by three of the largest insurers in the U.S. -- United HealthCare, Aetna and Humana -- from January 2008 through December 2012.

During the study period, 154,089 of the 1,046,850 children in the sample were diagnosed with ASD. In states with ASD insurance mandates, the adjusted prevalence of children diagnosed with ASD was 1.8 per 1,000, compared with 1.6 per 1,000 children in states without a mandate. Overall, the mandates resulted in a 12.7 percent adjusted increase in prevalence of children diagnosed with ASD.

In addition, the researchers noted that the effects of the mandates increased the longer they remained in effect. In the first year of implementation, mandates were associated with a 10.4 percent increase in the proportion of children diagnosed with ASD; in the second year of implementation, this percentage rose to 17.1 and then to 18 percent in later years.

"These are encouraging findings," Mandell said. "We now know that more children are being served, but we are also acutely aware that these numbers are well below the prevalence of ASD in our society, indicating that the mandates have not had the full effect that advocates desired," he explained. "This is merely a step in the right direction. These mandates represent a patch, not a panacea."

 July 11, 2016, University of Pennsylvania School of MedicineNote: Materials may be edited for content and length.


7/7 - Latest in Autism News

New Professional Book From Scholastic Breaks Down Barriers For Teaching K-8 Students With Autism Spectrum Disorder

 With one in every 68 children now being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and a national trend toward inclusive education, every teacher needs to be ready. To ensure that K–8 teachers have the tools and knowledge they need to support students with ASD, Scholastic (NASDAQ: SCHL), the global children's publishing, education, and media company, today announced the release of Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Inclusive Classroom: How to Reach and Teach Students with ASDby Barbara Boroson. 

As a nationally-recognized professional development provider with 25 years of experience in autism spectrum education and the mother of a teenage son with ASD, Boroson brings her unique perspective as both an educator and a parent to Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Inclusive Classroom. In her conversational and compassionate voice, Boroson shares classroom-tested strategies for addressing specific challenges faced by K–8 students with ASD such as executive function, sensory stimulation, and engagement, while also providing the most current statistics, diagnostic criteria, and clinical research.

Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Inclusive Classroom delivers critical information and proven strategies to help students with ASD succeed in school, including: 

  • Classroom set-up and environment 
  • Building an inclusive classroom community
  • Teaching strategies and pitfalls
  • Behavior management and support 
  • Incorporation of adaptive technology and apps
  • Collaboration with families
  • Engagement with paraprofessionals, coaches, building staff, and bus staff

Boroson's "Ten Things You Can Do Before Day Oneis a handy fact sheet in which the author outlines the most vital steps teachers can take to prepare for their students with ASD before school begins. These tips include ways to ease the transition to the new school year and ideas for adapting the classroom for optimal learning. Additionally, throughout the book, Boroson offers "There's an App for That" which provides modern tips for using technology to support focus areas of the book.

"As both an autism educator and the parent of a child on the spectrum, I know first-hand the overwhelming challenges that face these children-and their teachers and families, too," said Barbara Boroson"In this book, I bridge my personal and professional experience, helping educators to understand the functional strengths and challenges these students bring to the classroom and providing practical strategies for breaking through. With all of the demands on teachers these days, I wrote this book to be a lifeline-accessible, friendly, engaging, and above all, supportive-just what teachers need when the going gets tough." 

"Barbara's book is essential reading for every teacher and we are honored to publish it," said Tara Welty, Vice President, Group Editorial Director of Scholastic Teacher Resources"Her clear, concise strategies will help them create a classroom community where children with ASD thrive, while keeping the rest of the class engaged and on track."

As a national keynote speaker on Autism Spectrum Disorder, Boroson travels the country presenting and providing professional development to educators. Her full list of scheduled speaking events, which includes the International Literacy Association (ILA) conference in Boston, MA on July 9, can be found here: http://barbaraboroson.com/speaking/

For more information on Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Inclusive Classroom: How to Reach and Teach Students with ASDplease visit 

NEW YORK, July 7, 2016 /PRNewswire

6/24 - Latest in Autism News

Helping children with autism transfer new communication skills from home to school

A University of Manchester-led study is testing whether an intervention with parents and teachers can help children with autism transfer newly acquired social communication skills from home into school.

Previous research found that a therapy to enhance parent-child communication in children with autism can help improve their social communication. However, it did not provide evidence that the benefit spread wider into the school environment.

Children with autism generally have difficulty generalising new skills from one context to another, and this represents a challenge in spreading the benefits of therapy into other aspects of everyday life and development.

Autism is a common developmental disorder, with a prevalence of around 1% of the population. Its estimated UK costs, for childhood autism, are greater than the costs associated with other conditions such as childhood asthma, diabetes or intellectual disability.

The 'Paediatric Autism Communication Trial-Generalised' (PACT-G) study, funded by Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation Programme (a partnership between the MRC and NIHR), will test new ways to transfer the child's improving communication skills into the education setting. Aimed at 2-11 year olds, the study will look to extend the parent-child therapeutic model to work in education in parallel to working in the home.

It will assess the impact of the intervention across pre-school and middle childhood and compare outcomes with those from previous research. Its design will also enable the researchers to study the mechanism behind this transfer of skills across different settings, and highlight the most efficient means of helping children and families in this area.

University of Manchester Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist at the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital, Jonathan Green is leading the project and said, "This project is an exciting opportunity for us to test an extension of our approach using video feedback with parents of young children with autism to include similar training of professionals working with the children in their education setting. If this kind of integrated approach proves to add value for children's development, then it will have important implications for service delivery in the future. The trial also gives us a unique opportunity to investigate how these children generalise skills across contexts -- an important and fundamental question in the developmental science of autism."

The research team will work with school staff using the same techniques they use with parents, as well as encouraging parents and Learning Support Assistants to communicate regularly together about goals and strategies. The aim is to generate a similar change in school to that generated with parents in the home.

Professor Green added, "We hope that these two effects will add together into a greater combined benefit for the child. This study is just beginning and we won't know the results for a few years, but it is part of an ongoing programme to look at the needs of children with autism at different ages and to see if we can get interventions that build on each other through development to improve the lives of these children and their families."

One parent taking part in the study said "I realise the importance of understanding what he understands and making my communication directly relevant to the context of the interaction. It's a real partnership where we discuss the meaning of his communication and I always go away understanding him so much better with insight."

June 22, 2016, The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Manchester UniversityNote: Materials may be edited for content and length.