The READi Lab is pleased to add another research measure to our website. The Parent Interview for Autism–Clinical Version (PIA–CV; Stone et al., 2003) was developed to measure autism symptom severity across 11 behavioral domains in young children. Changes in scores on social and communication domains of the PIA-CV have been associated with clinically significant behavioral and diagnostic improvements from age 2 to age 4 in children with ASD (Stone et al., 2003). The PIA-CV can be used in interview or questionnaire format, and is now available in both English and Spanish. To view and download these materials, please visit the Tools and Materials section of our website.
In keeping with their mission to provide support to diverse families with developmental disabilities and special needs, Open Doors for Multicultural Families is hosting a series of parent workshops in November. The first workshop is entitled, “What is an IEP?” and will be presented by Rose Spidell, from the Office of the Education Ombuds. In this workshop, parents will learn how the IEP process works, discuss their role as a team member and, learn how to become more involved in developing an individualized educational plan for their child.
Date: Wednesday, November 4, 2015
Time: 6-8 PM
Location: Aki Kurose Middle School
Deadline to Register: Monday, October 26th 2015
This workshop is available in 10 different languages, and workshop attendees are provided with a free language interpreter, free on-site childcare, and free dinner. Registration is FREE, but required!
If you are looking for some ways to use your iPhone or iPad as a teaching tool for a child with ASD, we have an excellent resource for you! The 2015 revision of “Apps for Autism,” by Lois Jean Brady, describes and reviews over 200 apps that can be used to promote behavioral, social, communication, and cognitive development for children with ASD. Apps range from visual timers and organizers, to activities for building vocabulary, using video modeling, and teaching social and daily living skills. Some of our READi Lab team members have highlighted specific apps of interest below:
Allycen: Several listings in the “Pragmatics and Social Skills” chapter look really helpful for augmenting children’s social communication skills. There are a few options for all ages that model and explain appropriate behavior, dressing, and group skills for social situations. For younger kids, one is called “Model Me Going Places 2,” and it shows children examples of appropriate behavior in a variety of situations, like going to the hairdresser or the doctor. A bonus for this app is it is free! Another set of useful apps for kids are “Eye Contact – Toybox” and “Look In My Eyes 1 – Restaurant.” These both are designed to be fun games for kids that also allow them to practice eye contact and reward them for quickly focusing on a person’s eyes. These apps are $2.99 each.
Lisa: The “Kid in Story Book Maker” by Enuma allows parents to create and share customized picture storybooks with photos with their child as the star character! Parents even have the option of adding a “narrator” by recording their own voice or their child’s voice to each page. The app includes 12 story templates created by award-winning app designers, which make it easy and fun to create visual stories to support learning, social modeling, and early literacy for all children. This app costs $6.99, but there is a free demo available as well through the Apple Store!
Amanda: The “VASTtx” by SpeakinMotion is designed to support individuals who are nonverbal. The app uses a ‘hear it, see it, and practice it’ approach to learning language, displaying pre-recorded videos to facilitate simultaneous visual and auditory input of precise oral movements. VASTtx Therapy Samples is a sampling of therapeutic content, providing support in multiple areas and levels of speech therapy. VASTtx provides two app options, offering Key Words as a supplement to Therapy Samples. Key words provides users with the tools needed to build speech and functional communication, and practice the basic motor speech patterns necessary to produce all the consonant phonemes. The app also contains a detailed guide for integrating this material into a speech language therapy program. Therapy Samples costs $9.99 and Key Words costs $12.99.
Devyani: “Between the Lines” (Levels 1, 2, and Advanced) by Hamaguchi is designed to help elementary school students and adolescents (ideally 3rd grade+) understand the intricacies of social communication, such as vocal intonation, facial expressions, perspective taking, body language, and idiomatic or slang expressions. Instead of an automated voice or animated character, this app uses real voices, photographs and short mini-video clips for a variety of social situations and expressions! Through using this app, your child can practice mastering the more subjective aspects of every day interactions with others. Although the creators do not explicitly say so, the app seems likely to be more helpful for higher functioning children on the autism spectrum. The app costs $15.99 (but can be used for multiple children) and a Lite version is available for $.99. Disclaimer from the creators of the app: this is NOT a social modeling application; some clips at the advanced level will say or do things that are sarcastic or rude (e.g. interrupting and conversation) to help children identify these behaviors in their peers, but NOT with the intention of teaching them to imitate these behaviors. Thus, parent/adult coaching is advised.
TO OUR READERS: If you find any apps you like, feel free to email us at READilab@uw.edu and we’ll include your reviews on our website!
The READi Lab had a wonderful time greeting families and colleagues on Saturday at the “Walk Now for Autism Speaks.” Giveaways at our resource table included the “Understanding Autism” DVD, Personalized Story booklets, buttons, tote bags, and raffle tickets for the Woodland Park Zoo. We enjoyed meeting new families as well as seeing familiar faces!
The SIFF Cinema Uptown in Seattle will be holding a free screening of How to Dance in Ohio and a Q&A session with its directors on Wednesday October 7th from 7pm-9pm. The HBO documentary film, which first earned acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival, spotlights both the struggles and successes of a group of teenagers with ASD as they practice their social skills in preparation for their upcoming spring formal dance. If you cannot wait until October 26th to see the film when it airs on HBO, RSVP for your free ticket at the SIFF Cinema Uptown webpage. Hope to see you there!
Puget Sound’s “Walk Now for Autism Speaks” is now 8 days away, and the READi Lab will be there to support our local families and children with ASD. Come visit our table at the Resource Fair, where we will be sporting teal and purple, and will have plenty of activities and games for children and grown-ups alike. Spin our Wheel of Fortune and you may be the lucky family to win 4 free tickets to the Woodland Park Zoo! Come out to support autism research and awareness, and stop by to say hi to us on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, between 9 AM and 12 PM at Seattle Center.
The UW READi Lab is proud to partner with Autism Speaks to provide a series of personalized PowerPoint templates that parents and therapists can use to explain social situations to children with autism. We invite families to customize these story templates with your own photos or pictures to help your child know what to expect and how to act in a variety of everyday situations! The Personalized Story templates currently available are: Going to a Restaurant, Going to the Store, Handling Bullying, Having a Play Date, Potty Training, and Taking Turns.
Stay tuned for additional stories as they are developed!
The Personalized Story templates and instructions for use can be downloaded from the UW READi Lab’s Tips & Resources/Tools & Materials page.
Acknowledgements: University of Washington contributors to story content, illustrations, and photos include: Wendy Stone, PhD, Thanh Nguyen, MA, Kelly Johnson, PhD, Ashley Penney, MEd, BCBA, Amy Rodda, PhC, CCC-SLP, Raphael Bernier, PhD, Samuel Zinner, MD, Charu Gupta, MEd, BCBA, Catherine Brock, MA, and Eileen Feldman, PhD, BCBA-D. Microsoft Office also contributed to the original packaging and distribution of these the personalized stories through a content distribution partnership with Autism Speaks.
Higher Education Beckons
With the changing of the seasons, and the arrival of Fall quarter around the bend, the READi Lab bids farewell to two of its own. Salloni Nanda and Ghina Haidar are moving on to their next adventure, as they begin their graduate programs in School Psychology at UW. We are excited to see their future contributions to the field and are extremely grateful for the work they have done in the READi Lab. Their warm smiles and joyous presence will surely be missed!
The IRIS Center at Vanderbilt University has developed a variety of evidence-based instructional resources for educators that are posted on their website. One of their latest resources is a comprehensive module entitled “Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Overview for Educators”. The information in this module is sprinkled with case studies, expert interviews, and video vignettes that are designed to maintain the user’s interest as well as facilitate learning. You may notice familiar UW faces and voices in this module, as Wendy Stone, Ilene Schwartz, and Nancy Rosenberg have all contributed interviews and were involved in reviewing the materials.
As many of you may be aware, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released a draft report last month indicating that there is not sufficient research evidence to support early universal screening for ASD in children three years of age and younger. Through the process of universal screening, all children are screened at their well-child visit, including those who appear to be “asymptomatic” because no red flags are observed and/or mentioned by parents and/or providers. The report acknowledged that the current screening tools available are effective in detecting ASD in toddlers and young children, and that early treatment of ASD leads to improved outcomes. However, they note that the treatment studies have not been conducted specifically with children who were identified through the process of screening; therefore, there is no direct line of evidence indicating that early detection through screening itself leads to better outcomes for those children with ASD.
The final recommendation statement from the USPSTF will be released following a review of the public comments to this draft report (comments are invited as part of the process). Many organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, Autism Speaks, Autism Science Foundation, and Baby Siblings Research Consortium, submitted compelling arguments for the importance of early screening and intervention, and the challenges (financial, logistical, and ethical) of conducting the randomized clinical trial research that would provide the “missing link” between screening and improved outcomes. The AAP, for example, continues to stand behind its Bright Futures Guidelines, which recommend universal ASD screening using a validated tool at children’s 18- and 24-month well-child visits. We hope that USPSTF will give these comments their careful consideration prior to issuing their final report.
This NY Times article provides some additional insight into the USPSTF draft report and its potential implications.
The Lewis County Autism Coalition is hosting its 5th Annual Autism Conference on Friday, October 16th, 2015 from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm in Chehalis. This year the conference theme is Transitions: Pathways from Infancy to Adulthood, and Dr. Gary Stobbe of Seattle Children’s Autism Center will be presenting the keynote address. Similar to previous years, conference-goers will have the opportunity to attend informative workshops and a vendor fair, and the program is geared toward parents and professionals alike. Click here to register.
The READi Lab is proud to support this conference, and excited about our partnership with Lewis County for the Screen-Refer-Treat project. Come visit us at the vendor fair!
We are happy to welcome Allycen Kurup as the newest member of the READi Lab team. A Seattle native, she recently graduated from UW with a degree in Psychology, where she spent time working in an experimental lab examining children’s social cognition. Allycen will now be applying her previous research experiences to our community-based Screen-Refer-Treat (SRT) study as a research study assistant. She will act as liaison to some of the counties in the SRT study and facilitate the research activities for providers and caregivers, so some of you may be seeing her soon!
For more information about Allycen or the rest of the READi Lab Team, visit the About Us section!
The READi Lab is continuing to make clinical and research tools available for download from our website. Our latest addition is the Motor Imitation Scale (MIS), which was developed by Dr. Stone to measure elicited imitation skills in young children with ASD. These materials are located in the Tools & Materials section under the Tips and Resources tab. We’ll keep you posted as new tools are uploaded.
If the baby pumpkins are growing, it must mean that school will be starting soon. Here are some tips for making the transition from summer fun to school fun easier for children with ASD and their families!
READi Lab researchers Lisa Ibanez and Devyani Gupta visited Yakima this week to meet with early intervention providers at Children’s Village and primary care physicians who are participating in the SRT study. While there, they managed to visit some wineries and take in some scenic views of the region. Our lab members are now jockeying for position as the lucky person who will accompany Lisa on her next visit!
Drs. Wendy Stone and Lisa Ibañez are co-authors on a study published recently in Developmental Psychology, which examined positive emotional engagement at 6 months of age in high-risk infants later diagnosed with ASD (HR/ASD infants; n= 11), high-risk infants without later ASD (HR/noASD infants ; n= 32), and low-risk infants (LR infants, n= 25). At the 6-month visit, infants and their parents completed the Face-to-Face Still-Face Protocol (FFSF), during which parents played with their infants for 3 minutes (i.e., face-to-face [FF] episode), then stopped interacting and maintained a neutral expression for 2 minutes (i.e., still-face [SF] episode), and finally resumed interacting with their infants for 3 minutes (i.e., reunion [RE] episode). Positive emotional engagement was examined during the two interactive episodes (i.e., FF and RE) as infants’ smiling rate (i.e., number of smile onsets per minute) as well as contingent responsiveness (i.e., the proportion of parent smiles to which infants responded with a smile); parents’ smiling rates and contingent responsiveness to their infants’ smiles were also examined during the two episodes and there were no differences between the three groups of parents. Diagnostic outcome was assessed for all infants at 36 months of age through a gold-standard ASD evaluation conducted by a licensed child psychologist.
For infants’ smiling rate, there was a significant decline between the FF and RE episode for LR infants only; HR/noASD infants exhibited a similar, but attenuated decline and HR/ASD infants exhibited no reduction across the episodes. It appears that LR infants may have been more sensitive than the HR groups to their parents’ non-responsiveness during the SF episode, which subsequently depressed their positive affect sharing during the RE episode. While infants’ levels of contingent responsiveness did not differ across the two episodes, HR/noASD infants exhibited significantly lower overall levels of contingent responsiveness than LR infants, but comparable levels to HR/ASD infants. These findings suggest that lower levels of positive emotional engagement among HR infants may be related to increased familial risk for ASD and not specifically to later ASD, which parallels findings from some of our previous studies examining shared positive affect within the first two years of life in HR infants (Gangi, Ibañez, & Messinger, 2014; Nichols, Ibañez, Foss-Feig, & Stone, 2014).
We’d like to extend special thanks to our collaborators at the University of Miami, who are the lead authors on this article, and to all of the families who participated and remained dedicated to this study over the course of almost 3 years!
Lambert-Brown, B. L., McDonald, N. M., Mattson, W. I., Martin, K. B., Ibañez, L. V., Stone, W. L., & Messinger, D. S. (2015). Positive emotional engagement and autism risk. Developmental psychology, 51(6), 848-855.
The READi Lab welcomes Devyani Gupta as the newest research study assistant on our team. Devyani is a recent graduate from Whitman College, who will be putting her Spanish-speaking skills to use as she works on the many different aspects of our community-based Screen-Refer-Treat study. She will also have the opportunity for some “play-time” when she becomes one of the assessors for our ImPACT study in the near future.
For more information about Devyani or the rest of the READi Lab team, visit the About Us section!
With the aim of reaching Spanish-speaking families throughout the world, Autism Speaks recently partnered with the Carlos Slim Foundation (CSF) for the translation of many of its free, online tools and resources into Spanish. The CSF is a philanthropic organization based in Mexico with a mission of improving global health for some of the worldʼs most vulnerable populations. CSF will be working with families and experts in Mexico during the translation process to ensure that the materials are accurate and culturally appropriate. Among the materials that will be translated are over 40 Autism Speaks tool kits, which cover a broad range of topics relevant to families and providers, including the 100 Day Kit, a guide for parents of recently diagnosed children, as well as materials on ASD treatments, advocacy, and managing behavioral challenges. These Spanish-language tool kits will start becoming available to the public later this year!
To learn more about this exciting partnership, check out the Autism Speaks press release.
Results of a recent study suggest that children with ASD may have an altered olfactory (sniffing) response. The sniff response is thought to be controlled by “internal action models,” a brain mechanism whereby motor actions are initiated and refined automatically, based on sensory expectations. In the case of olfaction, work with adults has demonstrated that the strength of a sniff is automatically modulated in response to the valence of the odor, with pleasant odors eliciting stronger sniffs and unpleasant odors eliciting weaker sniffs.
The current study measured the sniff response in 18 children with ASD and 18 typically developing (TD) children ranging in age from 4 to 11 years. The authors designed a cannula that delivered a series of pleasant and unpleasant odors directly into the child’s nose and measured the sniff response to each. The procedure took 10 minutes and was conducted while the child watched a cartoon. Results indicated that the TD children, as a group, showed an “adult like” sniff response, whereas the group of children with ASD failed to modulate their sniffs in response to the unpleasant odors. In addition, in the ASD group, longer sniff durations for unpleasant vs. pleasant odors were associated with ASD severity.
The authors propose that this measure of olfactory response may have value in identifying early risk for ASD, in that it is brief and language-free. However, additional research is needed to determine whether this altered olfactory response is specific to ASD and whether the same patterns are found for younger children.
Long ago, in a faraway place, some practical tools and materials were born of clinical necessity. We are pleased to offer access to two such tools in the ‘Tips & Resources’ section of the READI Lab website: the TRIAD Social Skills Assessment (TSSA) and the Visual Supports Booklet. Both were developed by Wendy Stone, in collaboration with colleagues and graduate students at the Vanderbilt University Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD). Dr. Stone founded TRIAD in 1998 and served as its director until joining the University of Washington Department of Psychology in 2010 and creating the READi Lab.