Book: Avoiding Anxiety in Autistic Children: A Guide for Autistic Wellbeing

Book Title:

Avoiding Anxiety in Autistic Children: A Guide for Autistic Wellbeing.

Author(s): Luke Beardon.

Year: 2020.

Edition: First (1st)

Publisher: Sheldon Press.

Type(s): Paperback and Kindle.

Synopsis:

One of the biggest challenges for the parent of any autistic child is how best to support and guide them through the situations in life which might cause them greater stress, anxiety and worry than if they were neurotypical.

Dr Luke Beardon has put together an optimistic, upbeat and readable guide that will be essential reading for any parent to an autistic child, whether they are of preschool age or teenagers. Emphasising that autism is not behaviour, but at the same time acknowledging that there are risks of increased anxiety specific to autism, this practical book gives insight into the nature of the anxiety experienced by autistic people, as well as covering every likely situation in which your child might feel anxious or worried. It will help you to prepare your child for school, to monitor their anxiety around school, and also to be informed about the educational choices available to your child. It will give you support to help make breaktimes less stressful for them and how to help them navigate things like eating at school and out of the house.

Educationally, this book will take you and your child right up to the point of taking exams and leaving school; socially and emotionally it will cover all the challenges from bullying, friendships, relationships, puberty and sex education. It will give suggestions for alternatives in the scenarios that might cause anxiety or confusion in your child; it will also give a full understanding of your child’s sensory responses and such behaviours as masking, or echopraxia.

As the parent of an autistic child, you may find their path to adulthood different to the one you had expected to take, but as this book makes clear, autism should be celebrated and affirmed. Avoiding Anxiety in Autistic Children helps you to do just that, with practical strategies that will help happiness, not anxiety, remain the over-riding emotion that colours your child’s memories of their early years.

Book: Women and Girls with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Understanding Life Experiences from Early Childhood to Old Age

Book Title:

Women and Girls with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Understanding Life Experiences from Early Childhood to Old Age.

Author(s): Sarah Hendrickx.

Year: 2015.

Edition: First (1st)

Publisher: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Type(s): Paperback and Kindle.

Synopsis:

The difference that being female makes to the diagnosis, life and experiences of a person with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has largely gone unresearched and unreported until recently. In this book Sarah Hendrickx has collected both academic research and personal stories about girls and women on the autism spectrum to present a picture of their feelings, thoughts and experiences at each stage of their lives.

Outlining how autism presents differently and can hide itself in females and what the likely impact will be for them throughout their lifespan, the book looks at how females with ASD experience diagnosis, childhood, education, adolescence, friendships, sexuality, employment, pregnancy and parenting, and aging. It will provide invaluable guidance for the professionals who support these girls and women and it will offer women with autism a guiding light in interpreting and understanding their own life experiences through the experiences of others.

What is World Autism Awareness Day?

Introduction

World Autism Awareness Day is an internationally recognised day on 02 April every year, encouraging Member States of the United Nations (UN) to take measures to raise awareness about people with autistic spectrum disorders including autism and Asperger syndrome throughout the world.

Background

It was designated by the UN General Assembly resolution (A/RES/62/139).

World Autism Awareness Day”, passed in council on 01 November 2007, and adopted on 18 December 2007. It was proposed by the UN representative from Qatar, Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned, Consort of His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the Emir of the State of Qatar, and supported by all member states.

This resolution was passed and adopted without a vote in the UN General Assembly, mainly as a supplement to previous UN initiatives to improve human rights.

World Autism Day is one of only seven official health-specific UN Days. The day itself brings individual autism organisations together all around the world to aid in things like research, diagnoses, treatment, and acceptance for those with a developmental path affected by autism.

Components

The original resolution had four main components:

  • The establishment of the second day of April as World Autism Awareness Day, beginning in 2008.
  • Invitation to Member States and other relevant organisations to the UN or the international societal system, including non-governmental organisations and the private sector, to create initiatives to raise public awareness of autism.
  • Encourages Member States to raise awareness of autism on all levels in society.
  • Asks the UN Secretary-General to deliver this message to member states and all other UN organisations.

Themes

For the past years, each World Autism Awareness Day has focused on a specific theme determined by the UN:

  • 2012: “Launch of Official UN “Awareness Raising” Stamp”.
  • 2013: “Celebrating the ability within the disability of autism”.
  • 2014: “Opening Doors to Inclusive Education”.
  • 2015: “Employment: The Autism Advantage”.
  • 2016: “Autism and the 2030 Agenda: Inclusion and Neurodiversity”.
  • 2017: “Toward Autonomy and Self-Determination”.
  • 2018: “Empowering Women and Girls with Autism”.
  • 2019: “Assistive Technologies, Active Participation”.
  • 2020: “The Transition to Adulthood”.

Notable Initiatives

Onesie Wednesday

In 2014, WAAD coincided with Onesie Wednesday, a day created by the National Autistic Society to encourage people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to show their support for anyone on the autistic spectrum. By wearing a onesie or pyjamas, participants are saying, “it’s all right to be different”.

Outcomes

United States

In a 2015 Presidential Proclamation, President Obama highlighted some of the initiatives that the US government was taking to bring rights to those with autism and to bring awareness to the disorder. He highlighted things like The Affordable Care Act, which prohibits health insurance companies from denying coverage based on a pre-existing condition such as autism. He also pointed out the recent Autism CARES Act of 2014, which provides higher level training for those who are serving citizens on the autism spectrum.

Linking Boundary Sharpness Coefficient & Cortical Development in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Research Paper Title

Examining the Boundary Sharpness Coefficient as an Index of Cortical Microstructure in Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Background

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is associated with atypical brain development. However, the phenotype of regionally specific increased cortical thickness observed in ASD may be driven by several independent biological processes that influence the gray/white matter boundary, such as synaptic pruning, myelination, or atypical migration.

Here, the researchers propose to use the boundary sharpness coefficient (BSC), a proxy for alterations in microstructure at the cortical gray/white matter boundary, to investigate brain differences in individuals with ASD, including factors that may influence ASD-related heterogeneity (age, sex, and intelligence quotient).

Methods

This was a vertex-based meta-analysis and a large multicentre structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) dataset, with a total of 1136 individuals, 415 with ASD (112 female; 303 male), and 721 controls (283 female; 438 male).

Results

The researchers observed that individuals with ASD had significantly greater BSC in the bilateral superior temporal gyrus and left inferior frontal gyrus indicating an abrupt transition (high contrast) between white matter and cortical intensities.

Individuals with ASD under 18 had significantly greater BSC in the bilateral superior temporal gyrus and right postcentral gyrus; individuals with ASD over 18 had significantly increased BSC in the bilateral precuneus and superior temporal gyrus.

Increases were observed in different brain regions in males and females, with larger effect sizes in females. BSC correlated with ADOS-2 Calibrated Severity Score in individuals with ASD in the right medial temporal pole. Importantly, there was a significant spatial overlap between maps of the effect of diagnosis on BSC when compared with cortical thickness.

Conclusions

These results invite studies to use BSC as a possible new measure of cortical development in ASD and to further examine the microstructural underpinnings of BSC-related differences and their impact on measures of cortical morphology.

Reference

Olafson, E., Bedford, S.A., Devenyi, G.A., Patel, R., Tullo, S., Park, M.T.M., Parent, O., Anagnostou, E., Baron-Cohen, S., Bullmore, E.T., Chura, L.R., Craig, M.C., Ecker, C., Floris, D.L., Holt, R.J., Lenroot, R., Lerch, J.P., Lombardo, M.V., Murphy, D.G.M., Raznahan, A., Ruigrok, A.N.V., Spncer, M.D., Suckling, Taylor, M.J., MRC AIMS Consortium, Lai, M-C. & Chakravarty, M.M. (2021) Examining the Boundary Sharpness Coefficient as an Index of Cortical Microstructure in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Cerebral Cortex (New York, N.Y.: 1991). doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhab015. Online ahead of print.

Book: A Practical Guide to Mental Health Problems in Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder

Book Title:

A Practical Guide to Mental Health Problems in Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder: It’s Not Just Their Autism!.

Author(s): Alvina Ali, Michelle O’Reilly, and Khalid Karim.

Year: 2013.

Edition: First (1st).

Publisher: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Type(s): Paperback and Kindle.

Synopsis:

Exploring the relationship between ASD and mental health difficulties, this book offers practical guidance to help parents and professionals recognise and handle co-morbid conditions, and dispels the myth that they are just a part of autism. The authors cover a wide range of common mental health problems experienced by children with ASD, including Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), anxiety, ADHD, eating disorders, psychosis, stress, tics and depression, and illustrate these issues with case studies. They also provide vital advice in an accessible format and suggest strategies to ease the difficulties which arise from these co-morbid conditions. This book is essential reading for professionals working with children on the autism spectrum and is an accessible and practical resource for parents and carers.

Book: A Guide to Mental Health Issues in Girls and Young Women on the Autism Spectrum

Book Title:

A Guide to Mental Health Issues in Girls and Young Women on the Autism Spectrum: Diagnosis, Intervention and Family Support.

Author(s): Judy Eaton.

Year: 2017.

Edition: First (1st).

Publisher: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Type(s): Paperback and Kindle.

Synopsis:

This book addresses the specific mental health needs of girls and young women with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Looking at the ways autism presents differently in girls than in boys, and the mental health conditions that occur most frequently in girls with ASD, this is the essential guide for clinicians and educators on tailoring interventions and support to meet girls’ needs.

Describing the current assessment process for autism diagnosis, the book explains why girls are under- or mis-diagnosed, leading to later mental health issues. It outlines the types of intervention that are particularly helpful for working with girls to reduce anxiety, improve social interaction skills, and manage self-harm. The book also covers how to manage eating disorders and feeding difficulties, focusing on working with girls with sensory processing difficulties. There is advice on how to deal with the emotional impact on parents, carers and families, and the challenges they face when negotiating appropriate psychological and educational support.

In Vogue: ASD

Research Paper Title

What is Austism?

Background

The term “Autism spectrum disorder” (ASD), in vogue at present, has evolved after continual substantial developments taking place over more than a century.

ASD is a heterogeneous, multi-factorial, developmental disability in which an unusual pattern of development takes place during infant and toddler years.

As per DSM-5, Autism spectrum disorder is a combined phrase for a family of complex developmental disabilities inclusive of “Autistic Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger’s Disorder”.

“ASD is characterized not only by persistent impairments in reciprocal social communication and social interactions, but is also manifested by restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities”.

The classical clinical signs that exist in two major domains, viz. the ‘social domain’ and the ‘behavioral domain’ for the precise diagnosis of ASD have been tabulated and major differences between DSM-5 and DSM-4 are depicted with the help of a figure in this basic review article.

A sharp rise in the incidence of ASD cases has been observed worldwide owing to various risk factors such as genetic predisposition coupled with adverse environmental conditions, gynaecological interventions, etc.

Two official manuals viz. the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM) (published by the American Psychiatric Association), and the “International Classification of Diseases” (ICD) (published by the World Health Organization) is being regularly updated to facilitate diagnosis of ASD.

ICD-11 guidelines being prospectively implemented with effect from January 2022 have attracted global attention.

Reference

Joon, P., Kumar, A. & Parle, M. (2021) What is Autism? Pharmacological Reports. doi: 10.1007/s43440-021-00244-0. Online ahead of print.

Book: A Clinician’s Guide to Mental Health Conditions in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Assessment and Interventions

Book Title:

A Clinician’s Guide to Mental Health Conditions in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Assessment and Interventions.

Author(s): Eddie Chaplin, Debbie Spain, and Jane McCarthy.

Year: 2019.

Edition: First (1st).

Publisher: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Type(s): Paperback and Kindle.

Synopsis:

This comprehensive and much-needed guide addresses the issues faced by clinicians in assessing and treating the range of mental health conditions, which can affect adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Its particular focus on adults fills a notable gap in the ASD professional literature, with an extensive array of contributors from across the psychology and healthcare professions.

Covering a wide variety of common co-occurring mental health conditions including mood disorders, anxiety, psychosis, OCD, personality disorders, and eating disorders, this guide also explores broader issues to do with promoting positive mental health and wellbeing. Authoritative and detailed, this is an essential resource for all clinicians and professionals looking to understand and tailor their approach to mental health in autistic adults, and the need for specific methods and strategies to enhance assessment and treatment.

Book: Right from the Start – A Practical Guide for Helping Young Children with Autism

Book Title:

Right from the Start – A Practical Guide for Helping Young Children with Autism.

Author(s): Karin Donahue and Kate Crassons.

Year: 2019.

Edition: First (1st), Illustrated Edition.

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Type(s): Hardcover and Kindle.

Synopsis:

Right from the Start: A Practical Guide for Helping Young Children with Autism asserts that autistic children can be successful when parents and teachers understand key principles of autism and have the tools to help these children expand their social and emotional skills. This book explains the importance of self-regulation, the ability to moderate our feelings and reactions. In prioritising this essential skill, Right from the Start is an indispensable resource for parents, professionals, and educators. It describes practical strategies to help children manage their emotions and behaviour, learn social and play skills, and cope with challenging sensory experiences. With these techniques, we can lay a positive foundation that enables autistic children to be confident and successful in any environment.

Linking PTSD, Trauma, & ASD

Research Paper Title

Heightened risk of posttraumatic stress disorder in adults with autism spectrum disorder: The role of cumulative trauma and memory deficits.

Background

Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are known to be at increased risk of exposure to traumas such as maltreatment and abuse, however less is known about possible susceptibility towards the development of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and associated risk factors.

This study investigated the rates of trauma exposure and PTSD, and the role of cumulative trauma exposure and memory as risk factors for PTSD in adults who self-reported having received an ASD diagnosis, compared to a typically developing (TD) comparison group.

Methods

Questionnaires assessing self-reported frequency of trauma exposure (LEC), PTSD symptomology (PCL-S) and memory (EMQ- R and BRIEF-A) were completed online by 38 ASD adults and 44 TD adults.

Results

Rates of trauma exposure and PTSD symptomatology were significantly higher in the ASD group, compared to the TD group, with deficits in working memory and everyday memory mediating this association. Interestingly, a cumulative effect of trauma exposure on PTSD symptom severity was only found in the ASD group.

Conclusions

High rates of trauma and probable PTSD in ASD adults highlight the importance of routine screening. Cumulative trauma exposure and memory deficits may act to increase risk of PTSD in ASD; longitudinal research is called for.

Reference

Rumball, F., Brook, L., Happe, F. & Karl, A. (2021) Heightened risk of posttraumatic stress disorder in adults with autism spectrum disorder: The role of cumulative trauma and memory deficits. Research in Developmental Disabilities. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2020.103848. Online ahead of print.