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Autism News

ESDM intervention costs offset in two years: study

Philadelphia, PA — Research by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) paid for itself in two years by virtue of sparing parents more costly interventions and treatments later in their young children’s lives.


The ESDM is an expensive early-intervention regimen designed for children with autism ages 12 to 48 months. It includes a developmental curriculum and a set of teaching procedures that are delivered by therapy teams and parents either in a clinic or the child's home.


The university’s earlier randomized trial of 48 children between 18 and 30 months of age who were diagnosed with ASD found that those getting ESDM had better cognitive and behavioral outcomes than children who received community treatment.


The new study of associated costs used data that was collected during that trial and for two years after the trial was completed.


Study finds online family training program effective

Detroit, MI — A new study finds scientific evidence that an online family training program works.  The program teaches parents and siblings to better communicate with loved ones with special needs.


The innovative training program, created by Michigan State University researcher and former special education teacher Sarah Douglas, significantly improved family members’ ability to communicate with children affected by disability.


The new findings were published in Communication Disorders Quarterly.


MRI scans find autism brain abnormalities in babies

Montreal, Canada — Ongoing research by the Infant Brain Imaging Study (IBIS), a collaborative effort by investigators at the Montreal Neurological Institute and four U.S. sites, detected abnormalities in MRI brain scans of infants ages 6 to 12 months who were at risk for autism.


The brain scans of 260 children found communication delays in the hearing centers of the six-month olds.  With older study participants, brain areas involved in processing of vision and touch, as well as sound and language, also showed such a relation between inefficiency and symptom severity.


Symbol study questions long-standing autism “puzzle”

Madison, WI — For whatever reasons, the ordinary puzzle piece has symbolized autism since the 1960s.  Puzzle piece images are used by the Autism Society of America, Autism Speaks and others.


But now, a study of 400 random members of the general public found that people associated the image of a puzzle piece with such negatives as incompletion, uncertainty and being missing.


According to a report on the study in disability news outlet Disability Scoop, many people with autism disdain the puzzle piece, feeling that it paints them as “mysterious, disconnected and needing to fit in.”


The joint study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Ursinus College and the University of Kentucky was published in the journal Autism.


“If an organization’s intention for using puzzle-piece imagery is to evoke negative associations, our results suggest the organization’s use of puzzle-piece imagery is apt,” the study authors wrote.  “However, if the organization’s intention is to evoke positive associations, our results suggest that puzzle-piece imagery should probably be avoided.”