Tag Archive for 'evidence'

National Academies EBP guidelines

The US National Academies Press published a a booklet recommending a framework for promoting evidence-based practices in the areas of mental health and substance abuse. The focus is not expressly on children and youths or on education, which are key concerns for EBD Blog, but the emphases on evidence-based practices (EBP) in mental health and substance abuse certainly overlap sufficiently to make this report of potential interest to readers.

Because the guidelines come from the National Academies, they will carry substantial weight. For the purposes of many who work with students who have EBD, there is similar useful guidance about EBP from a work group composed of leaders from the Division for Research—Bryan Cook (chair), Viriginia Buysse, the late Janette Klingner, Tim Landrum, Robin McWilliam, Melody Tankersley, and Dave Test— of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). In January of 2014, the CEC group presented guidance to help consumers determine whether a practice should be considered as (a) evidence-based, (b) potentially evidence-based, (c) having mixed evidence, (d) having insufficient evidence, or (e) having negative evidence. Readers can download their own copy of the standards from the CEC Website and read the CEC press release about the standards.

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Editors helping each other?

Journal editors come and go, but the changes rarely make the news. This is not the case with the change in editorship at Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders (RASD) and Research in Developmental Disabilities (RIDD), which drew coverage in Times Higher Education (THE). It’s not exactly the change in the editorship that is the news, but some the activities of the editor that have resulted in headlines. First, let’s do the news and get that out of the way. Then we can delve into the details.

On 26 February 2015 in THE, Paul Jump reported that Johnny Matson, former editor of RASD and RIDD denied doing anything wrong:

A senior psychology professor has strongly denied any wrongdoing after a blog highlighted what it claimed was his high self-citation rate in papers published in journals he edited.

Johnny Matson, a professor at Louisiana State University and an expert in autism, was the founding editor in chief of the Elsevier journals Research in Developmental Disabilities (RIDD) and Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders (RASD).
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Can a child recover from Autism?

Yesterday I wrote about how, when people consider individual cases, the possibility of improvement for children with Autism might make otherwise inert therapies appear to be beneficial. In yesterday’s post I referred to research by Molly Helt and colleagues (2008) about recovery among individuals with Autism, and I hinted about an important recent study by Deborah Fein and her colleagues (2013) related to that phenomenon. Today I discuss that second study.

The more recent study is just another among many by Professor Fein, who was a principal author on the Helt et al. (2008) study, and who has been doing exemplary work about Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) for many years. In this one she provides new data about “recovery,” a word they rarely use in the course of their article.

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Autism, recovery, CAM, placebo, and research

Thought experiment: Suppose that scientists want to compare a new therapy for children with Autism. They’ll need to compare the New Therapy to a control condition and evaluate it over time using multiple different outcome measures. I’m going to describe this because I want to talk about the effects of “recovery” in Autism in the control group, the perception of the effectiveness of complimentary and alternative therapies, and the placebo effect.

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Nature: De novo mutations, autism, and schizophrenia, redux

In Nature a group of researchers from Denmark and Iceland report the results of their studies of mutation rates of Icelandic parent-child groups. They found that the level of new mutations, called a “de novo mutations,” in their samples when father’s average age was 29.7 was 1.20?X?10?8 per nucleotide per generation, but that number increases by two every year. In round numbers one might estimate that at about 20 years of age a father’s single sperm cell could carry 25 new spontaneous mutations, but at 40 years of age it might carry more than 65.
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Swedish population study puts prevalence of Autism at 1.15%

By studying the entire population of children in Stockholm (SW) during the time period 2001-2007, Selma Idring and colleagues at the Department of Public Health Sciences of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm were able to ascertain that the prevalence of Autism for the year 2007 was about 11.5 per 1000 or 1.15%. In addition, they found that about 43% of those with Autism also had co-morbid intellectual disabilities.

Reporting in PLoS ONE, Professor Idring’s research group reported the results of their study that examined records for virtually all of the children (n=444,154) in a geographic area (for example, they tracked 99.8% of all preschool children) and matched those against multiple national and regional registers that showed which children had received services for Autism disorders (provided free of charge in Stockholm). They validated their case ascertainment with a subsample, too.

graph showing change in prevelance of autism by age and by comorbid ID

In addition to reporting the overall prevalence and the differences in comorbidity, the researchers reported variations in prevalence by gender and age group. The figure at the right shows one of those relationships. For details, please see the full article, available online for free. It’s linked in the following reference.

These data fit well with other carefully conducted studies about prevalence, but they are not as high as the widely discussed estimates that are based on softer ascertainment methods (e.g., studies that ask parents if anyone has discussed “autism” in relation to their child). Different methods will lead to different estimates. Compare the Idring group’s results and methods, for example, with the 2012 US Centers for Disease Control ADDM report (Community Report From the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network).

Idring, S., Rai, D., Dal, H., Dalman, C., Sturm, H., Zander, E., … & Magnnusson, C. (2012) Autism spectrum disorders in the Stockholm Youth Cohort: Design, prevalence and validity. PLoS ONE 7(7): e41280. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041280

De novo mutations and Autism redux

In articles published online by Nature, Professors Stephan Sanders and colleagues and Brian J. O’Roak his colleagues reported additional evidence that rare mutations contribute to risk for Autism. By analyzing genetic material from parents who had children with Autism, the researchers were able to focus on differences in specific genes, what changed from one generation to the next. One team, working in the research lab of Professor Matthew State at Yale University, found strikingly unusual matches for a specific mutation at SCN2A. The other team, under the direction of Professor Evan Eichler at the University of Washington, found several candidates (including SCN1A) and a strong (4 to 1) relationship for older fathers.
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Denny Reid in C’ville!

Dennis Reid, a renowned researcher and clinician who for more than 35 years has worked with individuals who have Autism, will speak on 22 September 2011 on “Evidence-Based Strategies for Promoting Enjoyment among People with Autism” in Charlottesville (VA, US). The talk by Mr. Reid, which is free and open to the public (but registration is required), is part of the Virginia Institute of Autism (VIA) Autism Speaker Series and is sponsored by VIA and the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital. It is scheduled for 5:30-6:30 at St. Anne’s-Belfield Greenway Rise Campus, Randolph Hall Auditorium. To register, go to VIA’s Web site viaschool.org or call (434) 923-8252.

For those who are unfamiliar with Mr. Reid’s research, he has an extensive record of work in behavior analysis, having published repeatedly in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. He’s based at the Carolina Behavior Analysis and Support Center in Mogantown (NC, US) which, oddly, doesn’t seem to have a Web site.