Thursday, April 8, 2010

Autism Updates

I've been meaning to do this for a while, but a facebook plea from a friend whose son has autism to "learn as much as you can" reminded me to post some of these links.
First, some analysis of the proposed changes in the new DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) to include Asperger's as part of the autism spectrum and not its own diagnosis--what does it mean?
From Nestor Lopez-Duran
From the New York Times (Roy Grinker op-ed piece)


Food and Autism
Discussion of enzyme supplementation (one theory for autism is a "leaky gut" theory). This study was plagued by small sample size, though--and statistical power can be really important. Anecdotally, several of my friends whose kids have autism have felt that diet changes have helped their kids. Do the studies measure the things that seem different to my friends?

Twins and Autism: Genetics or Environment?

The New York Times has a series of Voices on Autism
Last, but not least, MSU researchers are doing a comprehensive review of autism services in Michigan. They are calling it the ASD-Michigan study.

Want to know what I think? Probably the only teaching certificate area I would tell someone to get a teaching certificate in these days in Michigan are the special education specialties related to autism. That looks like a growth industry.

Thanks to Nestor Lopez-Duran ( and David Goodman for the links.


  1. A huge problem with autism opinions versus research is that a lot of opinion is presented as fact.
    Cathy Lord presented some interesting points at the MSU conference last weekend. One thing I thought particularly interesting was the stability of the ASD diagnosis across age, in her past studies, though behavior was noted to change markedly,where as people who run Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention are able to diagnose kids off the spectrum at a rate of about 40 %. There's a lot going on right now and so much of that information is not filtering out to the school disricts and parents.
    Please encourage parents to join the MSU study. The researchers are trying to capture every ASD kid in Michigan who is in public school, they want to know what is happening to these childrens, not just school reports, but parent reports and to track outcomes...Right now they are the only group putting together this kind of information.It's a great idea.

  2. Anon,

    Can you share the information about:
    a) how interested parents would join the study and
    b) if there are any materials from the conference that are on the web (perhaps on the MSU web site) and available for people to look at? Thanks, Ruth

    PS You can post the links as a comment, or email them to me and I will update the original posting.

  3. The Huffington Post has a page devoted to autism news and columns:

  4. From the sheet from the conference,

    "The results of our study will be used to help inform policy pertaining to the educaion of individuals involved in the education of students with ASD,"
    "If you are a parent or guardian of a student with ASD in grades k-12 and are interested in the ASD-Michigan Project please complete the following steps.

    1.Email or call 1-877-600-1906 to find out how you can complete a survey about the educational services your child receives.
    2.Please provide your name and and your child's school and district to expedite the process.
    If you are an educator, if you know a parent with ASD who is in grade K-12 who may be interested please pass this information sheet along to that person.

    Your assistance in obtaining parent participation will help us collect information to improve the future educational services provided to students with ASD. If you have specific questions about this research, please contact Sara E Bolt, College of Education, 434 Erickson Hall, MSU, East Lansing Mi 48824 (517)432-9621,"

    Presenters had PDF versions of all the day's presentation on their website

  5. Note, EIBI was not talked about in the conference.You can access more information from Autism Speaks...

  6. In Ann Arbor, the PLAY project has been awarded 1.8 million for a therapy trial. Read about it here:

  7. I didn't like to hear about that. Solomon notes to consult with early intervention people before starting. Beaumont is running something similiar called GIFT.
    Those are ways to teach the family and get the kid some intensive one on one in the short term, so that the family learns how to handle some behaviors. They are low cost alternatives to EIBI, as EIBI is about $50,000. a year. The problem is that about 40% of kids recieving EIBI will loose their ASD diagnosis, and 90% will have significant improvement, and so while it seems appealing to go through a short hand version of intervention, you still end up with an ASD kid, and no where near the level of improvement or function that child could have had. . The reasoning goes, EIBI is only covered in some states, it'll eventually be covered in Michigan, at the very latest in three years,maybe sooner depending on Michigan's state legislature, and besides, there aren't enough BCBA's to treat all the kids in Michigan, so something is better than nothing. Well, maybe when those kids are teens or grown up they won't be appreciative of not having recieved the treatment that could have saved them the diagnosis.

  8. EIBI? BCBA? Translation, please:)

  9. EIBI is early intensive behavior intervention, it is when the BCBA oversees and designs a program,where an trained aide does a minimum of 25 hours a week up to 40 hours a week to "teach" ASD kids. BCBA are board certified behavior analysts overseen by neuropsychologists. An early id'd kid could have up to 3 years of EIBI.
    BCBA's are psychologists who have a master's in behavior analysis, who apply rules of behavior management to teaching and reshaping behavior.
    They then have to have many hours of overseen behavior intervention,and have verifiable positive results etc.
    Positive Behavior Intervention that is
    taught in the schools is based on the same set of principals, but no where with the same depth or rigor.
    So why EIBI? There's Early On, other programs, where the kids get OT, Speech etc, but what the kids don't get is this extensive behavior training. In EIBI, a lot of that very difficult behavior that is associated with autism, which isn't really about having autism,it's just bad behavior, get worked out. Tantrums, eating difficulties, toileting, sensory issues, aggressions, etc is dealt with so that they are gone, and so they enter school without these very damaging behaviors.