NICE’s shared learning database has been updated with the details of a new project developed to deliver information to support the care, development and day to day life of children and young people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as recommended in NICE CG170: Information and involvement in decision-making (CG170 recommendation 1.1.11).
A multi-disciplinary team (MDT) which consisted of consultant community paediatricians, specialist nurses and a member of the Trust Library & Knowledge Team, met regularly to share information and suggestions on all aspects of the project.
The project intentionally used differing information formats and media so that children, their families and carers could access the information in the easiest and most useful way possible. (Guide to Producing Health Information for Children and Young People, PIF 2014).
The three main outcomes were:
- the development of an online portal;
- a post diagnosis support pack;
- a collection of books for parents to borrow from the library
Patients, families and carers value the information provided by the Library as they trust that the information is current and from a reliable source.
Full details of the project are available from NICE
Zucker, K. et al. | Intense/obsessional interests in children with gender dysphoria: a cross-validation study using the Teacher’s Report Form | Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health | Published 25 September 2017
This study assessed whether children clinically referred for gender dysphoria (GD) show symptoms that overlap with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Circumscribed preoccupations/intense interests and repetitive behaviors were considered as overlapping symptoms expressed in both GD and ASD.
To assess these constructs, we examined Items 9 and 66 on the Teacher’s Report Form (TRF), which measure obsessions and compulsions, respectively.
For Item 9, gender-referred children (n = 386) were significantly elevated compared to the referred (n = 965) and non-referred children (n = 965) from the TRF standardization sample. For Item 66, gender-referred children were elevated in comparison to the non-referred children, but not the referred children.
These findings provided cross-validation of a previous study in which the same patterns were found using the Child Behavior Checklist (Vanderlaan et al. in J Sex Res 52:213–19, 2015). We discuss possible developmental pathways between GD and ASD, including a consideration of the principle of equifinality.
Full document available via Biomed Central
Researchers were able to develop a set of guidelines for delivering art therapy to children who have ASD
Theresa Van Lith, assistant professor of art therapy in FSU’s Department of Art Education, led a study that surveyed art therapists working with children with ASD to develop a clearer understanding of their techniques and approaches. The study was published this month in the journal Arts in Psychotherapy.
“I had noticed that is there is a high number of art therapists working with people who have autism, but I wanted to understand what their practice wisdoms were in terms of how they go about facilitating art therapy sessions,” Van Lith said. “We want to make it a transparent process for the client or the parents of a client, so they know what to expect.”
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in 68 children is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder by age 8 each year. As that population grows, more parents and educators are seeking out art therapists to address social development and sensory issues that generally accompany ASD.
The research team compiled and analyzed the art therapists’ expert opinions on topics such as what worked with ASD clients, their objectives during a session, their most preferred theoretical approach and the considerations they had to make when working with children with ASD.
Interventions using robot-assisted therapy may be beneficial for the social skills development of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD); however, randomised controlled trials (RCTs) are lacking | BMJ Open
Introduction: The present research aims to assess the feasibility of conducting an RCT evaluating the effectiveness of a social skills intervention using Kinesics and Synchronisation in Personal Assistant Robotics (Kaspar) with children with ASD.
Methods and analysis: Forty children will be recruited. Inclusion criteria are the following: aged 5–10 years, confirmed ASD diagnosis, IQ over 70, English-language comprehension, a carer who can complete questionnaires in English and no current participation in a private social communication intervention. Children will be randomised to receive an intervention with a therapist and Kaspar, or with the therapist only. They will receive two familiarisation sessions and six treatment sessions for 8 weeks. They will be assessed at baseline, and at 10 and 22 weeks after baseline. The primary outcome of this study is to evaluate whether the predetermined feasibility criteria for a full-scale trial are met. The potential primary outcome measures for a full-scale trial are the Social Communication Questionnaire and the Social Skills Improvement System. We will conduct a preliminary economic analysis. After the study has ended, a sample of 20 participants and their families will be invited to participate in semistructured interviews to explore the feasibility and acceptability of the study’s methods and intervention.
Full reference: Mengoni, S.E. et al. (2017) Feasibility study of a randomised controlled trial to investigate the effectiveness of using a humanoid robot to improve the social skills of children with autism spectrum disorder (Kaspar RCT): a study protocol. BMJ Open. 7:e017376.
Parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) frequently report poor psychological well-being.
The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of brief mindfulness-based intervention (MBI) on perceived stress, anxiety, and depression among parents of children with ASD in Jordan.
After the intervention program, the one-way analyses of covariance (ANCOVA) indicated that parents in the intervention group had better outcomes on the measures of psychological well-being and mindfulness than those in the comparison group (P < 0.01). Furthermore, results of paired samples t test indicated that parents in the intervention group demonstrated significant improvements in measures of stress, anxiety, depression, and mindfulness scores with medium to large effect size (Cohen d between 0.42 and 0.85, P < 0.01).
Although the comparison group demonstrated small improvement in measures of the dependent variables, these improvements were much less than improvements in the intervention group. The MBIs are culturally adaptable, feasible, and effective interventions to improve psychological well-being in parents of children with ASD.
Full reference: Rayan, A. & Ahmad, M. (2017) Effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Intervention on Perceived Stress, Anxiety, and Depression Among Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Mindfulness. 8(677)
Unigwe, S. et al. British Journal of General Practice | Published online: 8 May 2017
Background: In the UK, GPs play a key role in the identification and management of children, young people, and adults on the autism spectrum, but there is a paucity of research on GPs’ perceptions of working with these patients.
Aim: To understand GPs’ perceived self-efficacy in identifying and managing their patients on the autism spectrum, and the factors affecting this.
Conclusion: There is an urgent need for improved local specialist service provision alongside clearer referral pathways for diagnosis to improve both GPs’ confidence in caring for their autistic patients and the healthcare experiences of autistic patients and their families. Local clinical commissioning groups are best served to assist GPs in ensuring that they can reliably detect the condition and make appropriate provisions for support.
Read the full article here
Large-scale analysis suggests fewer risks than previously thought from exposure to antidepressant medications in early pregnancy | ScienceDaily
A study led by Indiana University suggests that mothers’ use of antidepressants during early pregnancy does not increase the risk of their children developing autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conditions previously associated with these medications.
The research, reported today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found significant evidence for only a slight increase in risk for premature birth in the infants of mothers who used antidepressants during the first trimester of pregnancy.
After controlling for multiple other risk factors, the researchers did not find any increased risk of autism, ADHD or reduced fetal growth among exposed offspring. The risk for premature birth was about 1.3 times higher for exposed offspring compared to unexposed offspring.
Read the full commentary here
The original research abstract is available here