The Autism Society of Autism shared a toolkit to support autistic people and their families through the unique challenges caused by the COVID pandemic. Topics include education, mental health & respite, healthcare resources, and lifestyle supports. All resources are available in both English and Spanish. The entire toolkit is available for download here!
Success means something different to each person, especially when it comes to treatments for autism spectrum disorders. A clinician or researcher may take one approach to measure individual outcomes, whereas a person with autism and his or her loved ones may place value on other areas. All stakeholders within the autism community hold valid viewpoints and concerns, so this spectrum of opinions must be explored to determine how to best support autistic individuals. Spectrum News interviewed two adults with autism and three experts to begin to bridge these gaps and to establish where commonalities and differences may exist. Read their responses here and contribute your own definition of “successful” autism treatments to the reader forum!
Photo credit: Spectrum News
Published by Spectrum, the leading site for autism research news.
Authors: Deborah Fein, Carol Greenburg, Connie Kasari, Benjamin Alexander, and Matthew Siegel
In July of this year, Netflix released a five-part docuseries titled, “Love on the Spectrum.” Follow seven individuals and two couples, all of whom fall somewhere on the autism spectrum, as they explore romance, dating, and relationships. A reality show without the melodrama, each person voices their own dating experiences, for better and for worse.
“Love on the Spectrum” is a binge-worthy show that has quickly become a READi lab favorite. If you haven’t seen it just yet, you may consider adding it to your watch list as we all enter another month of COVID-era social distancing and self-quarantining.
PBS Kids offers myriad resources to help parents talk about COVID-19 with their children. Learn how germs work with the Man with the Yellow Hat, how to wash hands with Elmo, or become a germ-fighting Superhero with Daniel Tiger! Videos, games, and other activities with your kiddo’s favorite PBS characters are available here. Articles for parents on topics such as navigating scary news stories and tragedies, supporting children when they miss their friends and school, and de-stressing for the entire family amid COVID are available, too!
Drs. Wendy Stone and Paul Yoder recently completed a 5-year NIH grant to study the use of an intervention called Project ImPACT (Improving Parents as Communication Teachers). Project ImPACT is a parent-implemented intervention that provides 24 in-home teaching sessions over 12 weeks. Our research was conducted with families who have a child with ASD and a younger sibling 12-18 months old, as later-born siblings of children with ASD are at elevated risk for social-communication delays or ASD. For this study, 97 ‘high risk’ siblings were recruited across Vanderbilt University and UW, and were randomized to either the ImPACT intervention or a control group condition.
Two papers resulting from the study are now published online in the journal ‘Autism.’ Collectively, these results suggest that: (1) ImPACT can be an effective parent-mediated intervention for improving communication in 12-18-month old younger siblings of children with ASD; and (2) some improvements occurred only in a subgroup who were identified as having lowest additional risk (i.e., females who screened at low-risk on a parent-report ASD screen and had only one older sibling with ASD.)
We want to express our most sincere gratitude to the families who participated in this study. We enjoyed getting to know all of them during their four visits to the lab. We would also like to acknowledge the efforts of numerous READi Lab members whose contributions to this project have been immeasurable.
The Behavior Response Support Team (BRST) with the University of Utah released short informative videos for caregivers and their children. Most videos are adapted to the age of the child and are available in a wide variety of languages and across multiple social media platforms, such as Instagram and YouTube. Regardless of whether kiddos will be continuing virtual learning or will be returning to in-person instruction this fall, tips and tricks are available to ease the transition for caregivers and their students! Topics range from normalizing mask-wearing and social distancing, establishing routines and schedules, ensuring students’ safety online, tackling boredom, and beyond! Access the entire library of videos here.
Photo credit: BRST, University of Utah
AFIRM, an autism intervention and resource initiative at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has published a toolkit that includes 7 strategies designed to support children with autism during COVID-19. These strategies are:
# 1 Social Understanding
#2 Offer Opportunities for Expression
#3 Prioritizing Coping and Calming Skills
#4 Maintain Routines
#5 Build New Routines
#6 Foster Connections (from a Distance)
#7 Be Aware of Changing Behaviors
Detailed explanations of each strategy and ready-made resources are adapted to meet differing ages, needs, and skills. These materials are available for download here.
Photo credit: AFIRM
Navigating and implementing an IEP for a child with autism is challenging regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic. As many parents are struggling to decide whether their child should return to school this fall, parents and other IEP team members must come together to best support the needs of students on the spectrum. The Autism Science Foundation is hosting a free webinar titled, “Strategies for Implementing or Modifying an IEP for use at Home or the Community” on Thursday, July 30th, 2020 at 12:00 pm PDT to discuss IEP management strategies for home-schooling and for returning to “traditional” schooling this fall. Register for the event here!
Photo credit: Autism Science Foundation
The idea of returning to school amid COVID-19 has elicited strong, complex emotions for many of us. Folks may be overwhelmed and unsure of how to best prepare their students with ASD (and themselves!) for the new standards and safety precautions implemented by schools. ECHO Autism will be hosting a no-cost webinar titled, “Back to School During a Pandemic” on Tuesday, July 28, 2020 from 1:00–2:00 PM PDT to address concerns and to help set up students for success during these challenging circumstances.
Dr. Rena Sorensen, a psychologist with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, will discuss strategies for returning to school and re-establishing routines, masking, social distancing, and more. Tools and resources to master each task will also be available. This event is open to parents, caregivers, teachers, and other professionals.
Register for this event here!
Photo Credit: ECHO Autism
Life as we know it has changed rapidly with the COVID pandemic, and it continues to do so. We need quality sleep now more than ever to ensure the health and well-being of ourselves and our loved ones. Children with autism are often affected by irregular sleep, which may be worsened by the disruption of daily routines. This #FlashbackFriday highlights the Autism Treatment Network’s Sleep Tool Kit. The goal of this free informational booklet is to promote a stable routine to help children with autism fall asleep and to obtain restful sleep. Interested in learning more? Follow to this link to download!
Photo credit: ATN/AIR-P
The READi Lab is excited to announce that we are hiring a Postdoctoral Fellow to join our team on the new RISE (Reciprocal Imitation for Social Engagement) Study. RISE is a multisite NIMH grant designed to examine the effectiveness of, and mechanisms of action for, Reciprocal Imitation Training (RIT) when implemented by Early Intervention providers.
We are collaborating with the University of Massachusetts Boston, Michigan State University, Rush University Medical Center, and the Boston University School of Medicine. This partnership offers a unique opportunity to examine the effectiveness of RIT in community-based settings across four states (Massachusetts, Michigan, Washington, and Illinois). Together, we can better understand the training, tools, and supports that EI professionals need to ensure that young children with autism attain their optimal outcomes.
Please click here to read the position announcement.
Our very own Drs. Wendy Stone and Lisa Ibanez contributed to an article on the effects of the pandemic on ASD research studies, published recently in Autism Research. The article, titled “COVID-19 and Autism Research: Perspectives from Around the Globe,” speaks to the unique demands that researchers have faced as we all have adapted to these unprecedented circumstances. From genetic research to animal model work to early intervention studies (such as our lab’s!), autism research has been impacted on every scale. You can read the article here.
As the global autism research community comes together to understand the future implications of the pandemic on autistic people and their families, we’re so grateful for our participating families and partnering care providers who continue to make our research possible. Our research is powered by you!
Citation: Amaral, D.G. and de Vries, P.J. (2020). COVID‐19 and autism research: Perspectives from around the globe. Autism Research, 13, 844-869. doi:10.1002/aur.2329
Everyone has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in some way. Families who live with autism face additional challenges, such as disrupted access to services. The SPARK Study, a large, online autism research community, asked its families to describe how they are impacted by COVID and even more importantly – to share the tips and tricks that have worked to overcome these unique challenges. Over 8,000 families throughout the United States responded by online survey. Follow this link to see the survey results, read family quotes, and share your own tips and tricks!
Photo credit: SPARK
Dana is a school psychology graduate student at the University of Washington and a student research assistant in the READi Lab. Originally from Spokane, Washington, Dana graduated from the University of Washington in 2018 with her Bachelor of Science in Biology. She obtained her Master of Arts in Behavior Analysis from Whitworth University in 2020. Before joining READi Lab, Dana worked with children with autism spectrum disorders at Seattle Children’s Autism Center as a research intern and in the field of applied behavior analysis as a Registered Behavior Technician. In her spare time, Dana enjoys spending time with her cat, watching college basketball (Go Zags!), and reading. She is excited to continue learning about early autism research and its application to the field of school psychology.
Gina is a Research Study Assistant in the READi Lab, working on the RISE and Sprout studies. Born and raised in the Central Valley of California, she completed her Bachelor of Arts in Human Development from Sonoma State University. Prior to joining the lab, Gina worked with children with developmental disabilities (primarily ASD) in school, clinic, home, and community settings. She has a Master’s degree in Special Education, with a focus on applied behavior analysis and autism spectrum disorder, from University of Washington. Gina loves watching baseball (Go Giants!), DIY crafts, and spending time on Lake Washington. She is excited for the opportunity to join the READiLab Team and learn more about autism research.
Karla is a Research Study Assistant at the READi lab. Karla will be working on the RISE study as a bilingual (English/Spanish) caregiver liaison. Karla was born in San Diego and raised in Tijuana, Mexico. At 15 years old she immigrated to San Diego where she completed her bachelor’s degree in Psychology at San Diego State University. Prior to joining the lab, Karla worked as a preschool teacher for Navy child development centers. During her undergraduate career, she worked as Registered Behavioral Technician providing ABA services for children diagnosed with ASD and other developmental disabilities. In her spare time Karla enjoys hiking, traveling, and spending time outdoors. She aspires to earn a Master’s in Applied Child & Adolescent Psychology in the future.