[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Treatment Early signs Genetics Pharmacotherapy Neurobiology a b s t r a c t On April 2013 experts in the field of autism from Italy and Israel convened in Jerusalem to discuss and finalize clinical recommendations for early diagnosis and intervention in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). In this paper, we summarize the results of this Italian eIsraeli consensus conference. ASDs constitute a class of severe and heterogeneous neurodevelopmental conditions caused by atypical brain development beginning during early prenatal life, reflecting many genetic, neurobiological and environmental influences. The first clinical signs of ASDs begin to be evident in children between 12 and 18 months of age, often after a period of relatively typical postnatal development. Recent longitudinal studies reveal substantial diversity in developmental trajectories through childhood and adolescence. Some intervention approaches have been demonstrated to be effective in improving core symptoms of ASDs, even if the heterogeneity and developmental nature of the disorder make it implausible that only one specific treatment will be best for all chil-dren with ASDs. More randomized control trials (RCTs) on early intervention are needed to identify the most effective strategies and provide the most efficient allocation of resources during the critical early intervention time period. Future research should focus on linking biological phenotypes with specific genotypes, thus establishing a foundation for the development of diagnostic screening tools and individualization of treatments. ª 2013 Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of European Paediatric Neurology Society. (P. Curatolo). c Participants listed in the Appendix. Official Journal of the European Paediatric Neurology Society e u r o p e a n j o u r n a l o f p a e d i a t r i c n e u r o l o g y x x x (2 0 1 3) 1 e1 2
Full-text · Article · Sep 2013 · European journal of paediatric neurology: EJPN: official journal of the European Paediatric Neurology Society
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study compared moral and social reasoning in individuals with and without autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Ten familiar schoolyard transgressions were shown to 18 participants with and 18 participants without ASD. They judged the appropriateness of the behavior and explained their judgments. Analysis of the rationales revealed that participants with typical development used significantly more abstract rules than participants with ASD, who provided more nonspecific condemnations of the behaviors. Both groups judged social conventional transgressions to be more context-bound than moral transgressions, with this distinction more pronounced in typically developing individuals, who also provided significantly more examples of situations in which the depicted behaviors would be acceptable. The educational implications of these findings for individuals with ASD are discussed.
No preview · Article · Sep 2011 · Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The role played by social relationship variables (attachment security; mother-child relationship qualities) and social-cognitive capacities (theory of mind) was examined in both observed friendship behaviors and in children's descriptions of friendships (age 8-12) with high functioning children with autism spectrum disorders (HFASD) (n = 44) and with typical development (TYP) (n = 38). Overall, half of the HFASD sample (54.45%) reported maternal attachment security, corroborating data from younger children with ASD. The hypothesized predictors and their interrelations had both direct and indirect effects on friendship for both groups of children, highlighting the importance of these factors in children's friendship development and suggesting both compensatory and amplification mechanisms for friendship qualities. Practical and clinical implications are discussed for friendship support in both ASD and TYP.
Preview · Article · Jun 2010 · Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The current study investigated the relationships between internalizing and externalizing (I-E) behaviors and family variables, including both parenting stress and quality of attachment relations, in children aged 8-12 with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or with typical development. Compared to the group with typical development, children with ASD exhibited significantly greater levels of psychopathology as assessed by the Child Behavior Checklist [Achenbach, 1991], and parents of children with ASD exhibited higher parenting stress as assessed by the Parenting Stress Index [Abidin, 1995]. In a hierarchical multiple regression analysis, parenting stress emerged as the most important predictor of children's I-E problems. Results are discussed in light of the two groups' similar relationships between parenting stress and child psychopathology.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: IntroductionJealousy: Basic or Secondary Emotion?Jealousy in ASD: Expression and UnderstandingAffective and Cognitive Correlates of Jealousy in ASD and Typical DevelopmentSocial versus Nonsocial Examination of JealousyThe Expression and Understanding of Social-Complex Emotions in ASDSummary and Conclusions: The Theoretical Implications of the Understanding of Jealousy as a Secondary or BasicEmotion in Typical Development and in ASDReferences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: COSPATIAL is a multi-disciplinary project that is using collaborative virtual reality and tabletop devices for training social competence within the theoretical framework of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. Our ultimate objective is to create a set of patterns for designing applications in collaborative technologies that are suitable for children with autism as well as typically developing children. We describe the rationale for CBT-informed design of collaborative technologies and background related work. Initial steps towards development of a design framework are presented, with illustrated examples from one concept design application for each of the two technologies under consideration. The project is ongoing and an iterative design process will be used to develop and evaluate the applications and further refine the design framework.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study evaluated the effectiveness of a 3-week intervention in which a co-located cooperation enforcing interface, called StoryTable, was used to facilitate collaboration and positive social interaction for six children, aged 8-10 years, with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). The intervention focused on exposing pairs of children to an enforced collaboration paradigm while they narrated a story. Pre- and post-intervention tasks included a 'low technology' version of the storytelling device and a non storytelling play situation using a free construction game. The outcome measure was a structured observation scale of social interaction. Results demonstrated progress in three areas of social behaviors. First, the participants were more likely to initiate positive social interaction with peers after the intervention. Second, the level of shared play of the children increased from the pre-test to the post-test and they all increased the level of collaboration following the intervention. Third, the children with ASD demonstrated lower frequencies of autistic behaviors while using the StoryTable in comparison to the free construction game activity. The implications of these findings are discussed in terms of the effectiveness of this intervention for higher functioning children with ASD.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Analogical reasoning--perceiving similarities in different situations and the transfer of such information--facilitates learning and understanding. However, children with learning disabilities (LD) typically demonstrate deficits in such information processing strategies. In this study, we investigated the analogical problem-solving differences between children with verbal learning disabilities (VLD), nonverbal learning disabilities (NLD), or non-LD. Results indicated better recall of component stories by children without disabilities but no significant differences between the NLD and VLD participants. However, the success rate for target problem solving was much lower for the NLD group than for the VLD and non-LD groups. The poor performance of the NLD children may be attributed to some of their characteristic weaknesses, critical for analogical problem solving. Yet the VLD group was significantly weaker in recall than the non-LD group, but this did not hamper their analogical problem-solving abilities. These findings confirm that analogical thinking requires more than memory.
No preview · Article · Nov 2008 · Journal of Learning Disabilities
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Friendships containing a child with autism and a friend with typical development ("mixed" friendships, n = 26) and those of children with autism and a friend with a disability ("non-mixed," n = 16) were contrasted with friendships of typically developing subjects and their friends (n = 31). Measures included dyadic interaction samples, and interview and questionnaire data from subjects, friends, and parents. Mixed friendship interactions resembled typical friendships. Participants in mixed friendships were more responsive to one another, had stronger receptive language skills, exhibited greater positive social orientation and cohesion, and demonstrated more complex coordinated play than in the non-mixed dyads. Exposure to typical peers appears to have significant effects on friendship behaviors.
No preview · Article · Aug 2008 · Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study examined the contribution of attachment security and emotion regulation (ER) to the explanation of social information processing (SIP) in middle childhood boys with learning disabilities (LD) and without LD matched on age and grade level. Children analyzed four social vignettes using Dodge's SIP model and completed the Kerns security scale and the children's self-control scale. Study results demonstrated major difficulties in SIP, lower attachment security, and less ER in children with LD compared to children without LD. Attachment as well as the interaction between attachment and ER emerged as important contributors to most SIP steps, suggesting that children with higher security who also have better ER skills will have better SIP capabilities along the different steps, beyond group inclusion. Results were discussed in terms of practical and clinical implications regarding the importance of mother-child attachment and ER skills for social cognitive capabilities in children with LD.
No preview · Article · Jul 2008 · Journal of Learning Disabilities
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We investigated manifestations of jealousy in preschoolers (n=32) with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and in a group of typically developing children (n=18) matched on mental age, verbal mental age, nonverbal mental age, and mother's education. Main results revealed explicit indices of jealousy in two thirds of the children with ASD compared with 94.5% in the typical group. In addition, different manifestations of this emotion emerged in the ASD group compared with the matched control group. Regarding mental and affective correlates of jealousy, expressions of jealousy correlated with IQ only for the children in the ASD group, and the ASD group revealed deficient emotional responsiveness (ER) capabilities. Significant correlations emerged between jealousy and ER in both the ASD and control groups. Discussion focuses on implications of these findings for understanding the core emotional deficit in autism.
No preview · Article · Jun 2008 · Cognition and Emotion
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study of Israeli and American preadolescent children examined characteristics of friendship in 44 children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (HFASD) compared to 38 typically developing children (TYP), as they interacted with a close friend Participants were 8-12 years of age (HFASD: Israel, n = 24; USA, n = 20; TYP: Israel, n = 23; USA, n = 15), and were matched on SES, receptive language vocabulary, child age, and gender (each study group included one girl). Multidimensional assessments included: individual behaviors of target children and observed child-friend interactions during construction and drawing scenarios; target child's and friend's self-perceived mutual friendship qualities; and mother-reported characteristics (friendship's duration/frequency; friend's age/gender/disability status). Overall, children with HFASD displayed a number of differences on individual and dyadic friendship measures. Both age and verbal abilities affected friendship behaviors. Children with HFASD and their friends perceived friendship qualities similarly, suggesting that preadolescents with HFASD have capacities for interpersonal awareness. Between-group similarities also emerged on several complex social behaviors, suggesting that friendship follows a developmental trajectory in autism and may enhance social interaction skills in autism.
No preview · Article · Mar 2008 · Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Current study is the second part of a 2-year cognitive-behavioral-ecological (CB-E) intervention for high-functioning (HF) children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We examined the utility of a group-centered intervention on children's ability to interact cooperatively with peers during structured and non-structured social situations. Direct (e.g., social problem solving) and indirect (theory of mind; executive function) treatment effects on social cognitive capabilities were also examined. Participants were 26 preadolescent HF children with ASD. Study results demonstrated direct and indirect treatment effects on social cognition and mixed results regarding children's social interaction capabilities. Although children's cooperative capabilities within the intervention group improved, dyadic, and group social interactions during school recess did not. Discussion focused on the utility of such group-intervention in increasing social functioning.
Preview · Article · Oct 2007 · Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This research is the first part of a 2-year cognitive-behavioral-ecological (CB-E) social skills training for high-functioning children with autism spectrum disorder (HFASD). Current study examined efficacy of an individual CB-E intervention in facilitating children's dyadic interactions (immediately after treatment and 4 months later) and their social cognition capabilities (e.g., emotion understanding and recognition, social problem solving). Participants were 19 HFASD children aged 7 years and 7 months to 11 years and 6 months. Results demonstrated improvement in children's social cognition and positive dyadic interaction and decrease in children's low-level social interaction behavior. Long-term evaluation revealed maintenance of improvement. Progress in children's cooperation, self-control, and assertiveness was reported by their teachers. Discussion focused on CB-E intervention efficacy in promoting integral social functioning for HF children with ASD.
Preview · Article · Oct 2007 · Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We describe a first prototype of a system for storytelling for high functioning children with autism. The system, based on
the Story-Table developed by IRST-itc, is aimed at supporting a group of children in the activity of storytelling. The system
is based on a unique multi-user touchable device (the MERL Diamond Touch) designed with the purpose of enforcing collaboration
between users. The instructions were simplified in order to allow children with communication disabilities to learn and operate
the story table. First pilot results are very encouraging. The children were enthusiastic about communicating through the
ST and appeared to be able to learn to operate it with little difficulty.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The present study aimed to comprehensively examine social cognition processes in children with and without learning disabilities (LD), focusing on social information processing (SIP) and complex emotional understanding capabilities such as understanding complex, mixed, and hidden emotions. Participants were 50 children with LD (age range 9.4-12.7; 35 boys, 15 girls) and 50 children without LD matched on grade, age, and gender. Children analyzed 4 social vignettes using Dodge's SIP model and completed 2 emotional recognition tasks (pictures and stories) and 4 emotional knowledge tasks, such as providing definitions and examples for 5 emotions (e.g., loneliness, pride, embarrassment). Study results demonstrated that children with LD had major difficulties in SIP processes and consistent difficulties with the different tasks in the understanding of complex emotions and in higher emotional understanding capabilities, such as understanding that 2 conflicting emotions (love and hate) can be simultaneously experienced. We discuss the implications of such difficulties for the understanding of social competence in children with LD as well as their implications for social skills intervention.
Preview · Article · Feb 2005 · Journal of Learning Disabilities
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study examined the perception of friendship in high-functioning children with autism (8–17 years old) and the link between perceptions of self and of social relationships in these children. Sixteen typically developing children were matched to sixteen high-functioning children with autism, on chronological age, IQ, gender, and mother's education. Study measures included a friendship picture recognition task and three self-report questionnaires: qualities of friendship, loneliness, and self-perception profile. Main results indicated that even if children with autism more frequently related to the intersubjective qualities of friendship such as affective sharing or intimacy, they perceived their friendship to be as close as did typically developing children. Also, for the group with autism, friendship correlated positively with cognitive competencies and general self-worth and negatively with loneliness. In addition, children with autism perceived their social and athletic competencies as lower compared with typically developing children. Implications of the associations between self-perceptions and perceptions of friendship are discussed.
No preview · Article · May 2004 · Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We investigated the expression and understanding of jealousy in 16 high-functioning children with autism and 17 typically developing children matched for IQ, chronological age, gender, and maternal education. We examined the expression of jealousy via children's behaviors, verbalizations, and affects demonstrated during two jealousy-provoking triadic scenarios (drawing and playing) enacted among the child in the experimental group (autism or typical), that child's main caregiver (mostly mothers), and a familiar peer or sibling. The two scenarios corresponded with the two types of jealousy described in past studies: social-comparison jealousy (drawing scenario) and social-relational jealousy (playing scenario). To tap children's understanding, we asked them to identify jealousy from a picture, to provide examples of times they felt jealous, and to offer suggestions for coping with jealousy. The main results revealed that children with autism expressed jealousy in situations similar to their typical age mates but manifested it in different behaviors. Moreover, children with autism revealed a less coherent understanding of the feeling. We discuss the meaning of the gap between demonstrating and understanding jealousy in light of the two central theoretical views conceptualizing the core emotional deficit in children with autism.
No preview · Article · Feb 2004 · Development and Psychopathology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Social interaction with peers and the understanding and feelings of loneliness were examined in 18 high-functioning children with autism and 17 typically developing children matched for IQ, chronological age, gender, and maternal education. Observations were conducted on children's spontaneous social initiations and responses to their peers in natural settings such as recess and snack time, and children reported on their understanding and feelings of loneliness and social interaction. Overall, children with autism revealed a good understanding of both social interaction and loneliness, and they demonstrated a high level of social initiation. However, they spent only half the time in social interactions with peers compared with their matched counterparts, and they interacted more often with a typically developing child than with another special education child. Despite the intergroup differences in frequency of interaction, a similar distribution of interactions emerged for both groups, who presented mostly positive social behaviors, fewer low-level behaviors, and very infrequent negative behaviors. Children with autism reported higher degrees of loneliness than their typical age-mates, as well as a lower association between social interaction and loneliness, suggesting their poorer understanding of the relations between loneliness and social interaction. Research and practice implications of these findings are discussed.
No preview · Article · Nov 2003 · Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The current study investigated mothers' perceptions of the development of friendship in high-functioning children with autism and in typically developing children. Fourteen mothers in each group (autism, typical) completed the Childhood Friendship Survey regarding their children's friendships. Main results indicated that both groups (autism and typical) tended to have same-gender and same-age friendships. However, friendships of children with autism differ compared with typical children's friendships on number of friends, friendship duration, frequency of meetings, and type of activities. Half of the friendships in the autism group were mixed (friendship with a typically developing child). Mixed differed from non-mixed friendships in that mixed pairs met and played mostly at home, whereas non-mixed pairs met and played at school. Factors contributing to the development and formation of friendship in each group are discussed.