A Survey on Early Screen Exposure during Infancy and Autism

This survey was conducted to explore the hypothesis that excessive screen exposure combined with a subsequent decrease in parent-child interaction during infancy might be associated with autism. The main questions being asked are: Were children with autism exposed to long hours of screen time during the first 2 years of life? And what was the reason(s) for exposure at such an early age? Other variables were also addressed in this survey. An Arabic questionnaire was administered online (June 2019) via a Facebook page, relatively well-known in Arab countries. 1725 parents of children diagnosed with autism participated in this survey. Results show that 80.9% of children surveyed who were diagnosed with autism had been exposed to screens for long periods of time during the first 2 years of life. It can be inferred from the results of this survey that over-exposure to screens disrupt the parent-child interaction which is shown to be associated with ASD. The results of this survey highlight the harmful effects of screen exposure during infancy and the importance of parent-child interaction during the critical period of brain development. This paper attempts to further explore the connection between parent-child interaction and ASD, as well as serve as a call for further research and investigation of the relation between screens and parent-child interactions during infancy and Autism.

Using Project MIND - Math Is Not Difficult Strategies to Help Children with Autism Improve Mathematics Skills

This study aimed to provide a practical, systematic, and comprehensive intervention for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). A pilot study of quasi-experimental pre-post intervention with control group design was conducted to evaluate if the mathematical intervention (Project MIND - Math Is Not Difficult) increases the math comprehension of children with ASD Children with ASD in the primary grades (K-1, 2) participated in math interventions to enhance their math comprehension and cognitive ability. The Bracken basic concept scale was used to evaluate subjects’ language skills, cognitive development, and school readiness. The study found that our systemic interventions of Project MIND significantly improved the mathematical and cognitive abilities in children with autism. The results of this study may lead to a major change in effective and adequate health care services for children with ASD and their families. All statistical analyses were performed with the IBM SPSS Statistics Version 25 for Windows. The significant level was set at 0.05 P-value.

Food for Thought: Preparing the Brain to Eat New Foods through “Messy” Play

Many children often experience phases of picky eating, food aversions and/or avoidance. For families with children who have special needs, these experiences are often exacerbated, which can lead to feelings that negatively impact a caregiver’s relationship with their child. Within the scope of speech language pathology practice, knowledge of both emotional and feeding development is key. This paper will explore the significance of “messy play” within typical feeding development, and the challenges that may arise if a child does not have the opportunity to engage in this type of exploratory play. This paper will consider several contributing factors that can result in a “picky eater.” Further, research has shown that individuals with special needs, including autism, possess a neurological makeup that differs from that of a typical individual. Because autism is a disorder of relating and communicating due to differences in the limbic system, an individual with special needs may respond to a typical feeding experience as if it is a traumatic event. As a result, broadening one’s dietary repertoire may seem to be an insurmountable challenge. This paper suggests that introducing new foods through exploratory play can help broaden and strengthen diets, as well as improve the feeding experience, of individuals with autism. The DIRFloortimeⓇ methodology stresses the importance of following a child's lead. Within this developmental model, there is a special focus on a person’s individual differences, including the unique way they process the world around them, as well as the significance of therapy occurring within the context of a strong and motivating relationship. Using this child-centered approach, we can support our children in expanding their diets, while simultaneously building upon their cognitive and creative development through playful and respectful interactions that include exposure to foods that differ in color, texture, and smell. Further, this paper explores the importance of exploration, self-feeding and messy play on brain development, both in the context of typically developing individuals and those with disordered development.

Fingers Exergames to Improve Fine Motor Skill in Autistic Children

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others. Most of these children have difficulty with fine motor skills which typically struggle with handwriting and fine activities in their routine life such as getting dressed and controlled use of the everyday tool. Because fine motor activities encompass so many routine functions, a fine motor delay can have a measurable negative impact on a person's ability to handle daily practical tasks. This project proposed a simple fine motor exercise aid plus the game (exergame) for autistic children who discover from fine motor difficulties. The proposed exergame will be blinking randomly and user needs to bend their finger accordingly. It will notify the user, whether they bend the right finger or not. The system is realized using Arduino, which is programmed to control all the operated circuit. The feasibility studies with six autistic children were conducted and found the child interested in using exergame and could quickly get used to it. This study provides important guidance for future investigations of the exergame potential for accessing and improving fine motor skill among autistic children.

Management Directions towards Social Responsibility in Special Population Groups by Airport Enterprises: The Case of Autism

Air transport links markets and individuals, promoting social and economic development. The review of management direction towards social responsibility and especially for the enhancement of passengers with autism is the key objective of this paper. According to a top-down approach, the key dimensions that affect the basic principles and directions of airport enterprises management towards social responsibility for the case of passengers with autism are presented. Conventional wisdom is to present actions undertaken in improving accessibility for special population groups and highlight the social dimension in the management of transport hubs. The target is to focus on transport hubs serving special groups of passengers such as passengers with autism and highlight good practices and motivate transport infrastructure management authorities and decision makers to promote the social footprint of transport. The highlights and key findings are essential for managers and decision makers to support actions and plans towards management of airport enterprises towards social responsibility, focusing on the case of passengers traveling with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Evaluation of the Role of Advocacy and the Quality of Care in Reducing Health Inequalities for People with Autism, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals

Individuals with Autism, Intellectual and Developmental disabilities (AIDD) are one of the most vulnerable groups in society, hampered not only by their own limitations to understand and interact with the wider society, but also societal limitations in perception and understanding. Communication to express their needs and wishes is fundamental to enable such individuals to live and prosper in society. This research project was designed as an organisational case study, in a large secondary health care hospital within the National Health Service (NHS), to assess the quality of care provided to people with AIDD and to review the role of advocacy to reduce health inequalities in these individuals. Methods: The research methodology adopted was as an “insider researcher”. Data collection included both quantitative and qualitative data i.e. a mixed method approach. A semi-structured interview schedule was designed and used to obtain qualitative and quantitative primary data from a wide range of interdisciplinary frontline health care workers to assess their understanding and awareness of systems, processes and evidence based practice to offer a quality service to people with AIDD. Secondary data were obtained from sources within the organisation, in keeping with “Case Study” as a primary method, and organisational performance data were then compared against national benchmarking standards. Further data sources were accessed to help evaluate the effectiveness of different types of advocacy that were present in the organisation. This was gauged by measures of user and carer experience in the form of retrospective survey analysis, incidents and complaints. Results: Secondary data demonstrate near compliance of the Organisation with the current national benchmarking standard (Monitor Compliance Framework). However, primary data demonstrate poor knowledge of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, poor knowledge of organisational systems, processes and evidence based practice applied for people with AIDD. In addition there was poor knowledge and awareness of frontline health care workers of advocacy and advocacy schemes for this group. Conclusions: A significant amount of work needs to be undertaken to improve the quality of care delivered to individuals with AIDD. An operational strategy promoting the widespread dissemination of information may not be the best approach to deliver quality care and optimal patient experience and patient advocacy. In addition, a more robust set of standards, with appropriate metrics, needs to be developed to assess organisational performance which will stand the test of professional and public scrutiny.

The Effectiveness of Therapeutic Exercise on Motor Skills and Attention of Male Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) involve myriad aberrant perceptual, cognitive, linguistic, and social behaviors. The term spectrum emphasizes that the disabilities associated with ASD fall on a continuum from relatively mild to severe. People with ASD may display stereotyped behaviors such as twirling, spinning objects, flapping the hands, and rocking. The individuals with ASD exhibit communication problems due to repetitive/restricted behaviors. Children with ASD who lack the motivation to learn, who do not enjoy physical challenges, or whose sensory perception results in confusing or unpleasant feedback from movement may not become sufficiently motivated to practice motor activities. As a result, they may show both a delay in developing certain motor skills. Additionally, attention is an important component of learning. As far as children with ASD have problems in joint attention, many education-based programs are needed to consider some aspects of attention and motor activities development for students with ASD. These programs focus on the basic movement skills that are crucial for the future development of the more complex skills needed in games, dance, sports, gymnastics, active play, and recreational physical activities. The purpose of the present research was to determine the effectiveness of therapeutic exercise on motor skills and attention of male students with ASD. This was an experimental study with a control group. The population consisted of 8-10 year-old male students with ASD and 30 subjects were selected randomly from an available center suitable for the children with ASD. They were evaluated by the Basic Motor Ability Test (BMAT) and Persian version of computerized Stroop color-word test and randomly assigned to an experimental and control group (15 students in per group). The experimental group participated in 16 therapeutic exercise sessions and received therapeutic exercise program (twice a week; each lasting for 45 minutes) designed based on the Spark motor program while the control group did not. All subjects were evaluated by BMAT and Stroop color-word test after the last session again. The collected data were analyzed by using multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA). The results of MANCOVA showed that experimental and control groups had a significant difference in motor skills and at least one of the components of attention (correct responses, incorrect responses, no responses, the reaction time of congruent words and reaction time of incongruent words in the Stroop test). The findings showed that the therapeutic exercise had a significant effect on motor skills and all components of attention in students with ASD. We can conclude that the therapeutic exercise led to promote the motor skills and attention of students with ASD, so it is necessary to design or plan such programs for ASD students to prevent their communication or academic problems.

EEG-Based Screening Tool for School Student’s Brain Disorders Using Machine Learning Algorithms

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), epilepsy, and autism affect millions of children worldwide, many of which are undiagnosed despite the fact that all of these disorders are detectable in early childhood. Late diagnosis can cause severe problems due to the late treatment and to the misconceptions and lack of awareness as a whole towards these disorders. Moreover, electroencephalography (EEG) has played a vital role in the assessment of neural function in children. Therefore, quantitative EEG measurement will be utilized as a tool for use in the evaluation of patients who may have ADHD, epilepsy, and autism. We propose a screening tool that uses EEG signals and machine learning algorithms to detect these disorders at an early age in an automated manner. The proposed classifiers used with epilepsy as a step taken for the work done so far, provided an accuracy of approximately 97% using SVM, Naïve Bayes and Decision tree, while 98% using KNN, which gives hope for the work yet to be conducted.

The Use of Music Therapy to Improve Non-Verbal Communication Skills for Children with Autism

The number of school-aged children with autism in Indonesia has been increasing each year. Autism is a developmental disorder which can be diagnosed in childhood. One of the symptoms is the lack of communication skills. Music therapy is known as an effective treatment for children with autism. Music elements and structures create a good space for children with autism to express their feelings and communicate their thoughts. School-aged children are expected to be able to communicate non-verbally very well, but children with autism experience the difficulties of communicating non-verbally. The aim of this research is to analyze the significance of music therapy treatment to improve non-verbal communication tools for children with autism. This research informs teachers and parents on how music can be used as a media to communicate with children with autism. The qualitative method is used to analyze this research, while the result is described with the microanalysis technique. The result is measured specifically from the whole experiment, hours of every week, minutes of every session, and second of every moment. The samples taken are four school-aged children with autism in the age range of six to 11 years old. This research is conducted within four months started with observation, interview, literature research, and direct experiment. The result demonstrates that music therapy could be effectively used as a non-verbal communication tool for children with autism, such as changes of body gesture, eye contact, and facial expression.

Implicit Responses for Assessment of Autism Based on Natural Behaviors Obtained Inside Immersive Virtual Environment

The late detection and subjectivity of the assessment of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) imposed a difficulty for the children’s clinical and familiar environment. The results showed in this paper, are part of a research project about the assessment and training of social skills in children with ASD, whose overall goal is the use of virtual environments together with physiological measures in order to find a new model of objective ASD assessment based on implicit brain processes measures. In particular, this work tries to contribute by studying the differences and changes in the Skin Conductance Response (SCR) and Eye Tracking (ET) between a typical development group (TD group) and an ASD group (ASD group) after several combined stimuli using a low cost Immersive Virtual Environment (IVE). Subjects were exposed to a virtual environment that showed natural scenes that stimulated visual, auditory and olfactory perceptual system. By exposing them to the IVE, subjects showed natural behaviors while measuring SCR and ET. This study compared measures of subjects diagnosed with ASD (N = 18) with a control group of subjects with typical development (N=10) when exposed to three different conditions: only visual (V), visual and auditory (VA) and visual, auditory and olfactory (VAO) stimulation. Correlations between SCR and ET measures were also correlated with the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) test. SCR measures showed significant differences among the experimental condition between groups. The ASD group presented higher level of SCR while we did not find significant differences between groups regarding DF. We found high significant correlations among all the experimental conditions in SCR measures and the subscale of ADOS test of imagination and symbolic thinking. Regarding the correlation between ET measures and ADOS test, the results showed significant relationship between VA condition and communication scores.

Financial Burden of Family for the Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is the fastest growing serious developmental disorder characterized by social deficits, communicative difficulties, and repetitive behaviors. ASD is an emerging public health issue globally which is associated with huge financial burden to the family, community and the nation. The aim of this study was to assess the financial burden of family for the children with Autism spectrum Disorder. This cross-sectional study was carried out from July 2015 to June 2016 among 154 children with ASD to assess the financial burden of family. Data were collected by face-to-face interview with semi-structured questionnaire following systematic random sampling technique. Majority (73.4%) children were male and mean (±SD) age was 6.66 ± 2.97 years. Most (88.8%) of the children were from urban areas with average monthly family income Tk. 41785.71±23936.45. Average monthly direct cost of the children was Tk.17656.49 ± 9984.35, while indirect cost was Tk. 13462.90 ± 9713.54 and total treatment cost was Tk. 23076.62 ± 15341.09. Special education cost (Tk. 4871.00), cost of therapy (Tk. 4124.07) and travel cost (Tk. 3988.31) were the major types of direct cost, while loss of income (Tk.14570.18) was the chief indirect cost incurred by the families. The study found that majority (59.8%) of the children attended special schools were incurred Tk.20001-78700 as total treatment cost, which were statistically significant (p

A Theoretical Framework on Using Social Stories with the Creative Arts for Individuals on the Autistic Spectrum

Social Stories are widely used to teach social and communication skills or concepts to individuals on the autistic spectrum. This paper presents a theoretical framework for using Social Stories in conjunction with the creative arts. The paper argues that Bandura’s social learning theory can be used to explain the mechanisms behind Social Stories and the way they influence changes in response, while Gardner’s multiple intelligences theory can be used simultaneously to demonstrate the role of the creative arts in learning. By using Social Stories with the creative arts for individuals on the autistic spectrum, the aim is to meet individual needs and help individuals with autism to develop in different areas of learning and communication.

A Robotic “Puppet Master” Application to ASD Therapeutic Support

This paper describes a preliminary work aimed at setting a therapeutic support for autistic teenagers using three humanoid robots NAO shared by ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) subjects. The studied population had attended successfully a first year program, and were observed with a second year program using the robots. This paper focuses on the content and the effects of the second year program. The approach is based on a master puppet concept: the subjects program the robots, and use them as an extension for communication. Twenty sessions were organized, alternating ten preparatory sessions and ten robotics programming sessions. During the preparatory sessions, the subjects write a story to be played by the robots. During the robot programming sessions, the subjects program the motions to be realized to make the robot tell the story. The program was concluded by a public performance. The experiment involves five ASD teenagers aged 12-15, who had all attended the first year robotics training. As a result, a progress in voluntary and organized communication skills of the five subjects was observed, leading to improvements in social organization, focus, voluntary communication, programming, reading and writing abilities. The changes observed in the subjects general behavior took place in a short time, and could be observed from one robotics session to the next one. The approach allowed the subjects to draw the limits of their body with respect to the environment, and therefore helped them confronting the world with less anxiety.

Identity Verification Using k-NN Classifiers and Autistic Genetic Data

DNA data have been used in forensics for decades. However, current research looks at using the DNA as a biometric identity verification modality. The goal is to improve the speed of identification. We aim at using gene data that was initially used for autism detection to find if and how accurate is this data for identification applications. Mainly our goal is to find if our data preprocessing technique yields data useful as a biometric identification tool. We experiment with using the nearest neighbor classifier to identify subjects. Results show that optimal classification rate is achieved when the test set is corrupted by normally distributed noise with zero mean and standard deviation of 1. The classification rate is close to optimal at higher noise standard deviation reaching 3. This shows that the data can be used for identity verification with high accuracy using a simple classifier such as the k-nearest neighbor (k-NN). 

Architecture and Students with Autism: Exploring Strategies for Their Inclusion in Society Mainstream

Architecture, as an art and science of designing, has always been the medium to create environments that fulfill their users’ needs. It could create an inclusive environment that would not isolate any individual regardless of his /her disabilities. It could help, hopefully, in setting the strategies that provide a supportive, educational environment that would allow the inclusion of students with autism. Architects could help in the battle against this neuro-developmental disorder by providing the accommodating environment, at home and at school, in order to prevent institutionalizing these children. Through a theoretical approach and a review of literature, this study will explore and analyze best practices in autism-friendly, supportive, teaching environments. Additionally, it would provide the range of measures, and set the strategies to deal with the students with autism sensory peculiarities, and that, in order to allow them to concentrate in the school environment, and be able to succeed, and to be integrated as an important addition to society and the social mainstream. Architects should take into consideration the general guidelines for an autism-friendly built environment, and apply them to specific buildings systems. And that, as certain design elements have great effect on children’s behavior, by appropriating architecture to provide inclusive accommodating environments, the basis for equalization of opportunities is set allowing these individuals a better, normal, non-institutional life, as the discussion presented in this study would reveal.

Control Strategies for a Robot for Interaction with Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Socially assistive robotic has become increasingly active and it is present in therapies of people affected for several neurobehavioral conditions, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In fact, robots have played a significant role for positive interaction with children with ASD, by stimulating their social and cognitive skills. This work introduces a mobile socially-assistive robot, which was built for interaction with children with ASD, using non-linear control techniques for this interaction.

Prototype of an Interactive Toy from Lego Robotics Kits for Children with Autism

This paper is the development of a concept of the man/robot interaction. More accurately in developing of an autistic child that have more troubles with interaction, here offers an efficient solution, even though simple; however, less studied for this public. This concept is based on code applied thought out the Lego NXT kit, built for the interpretation of the robot, thereby can create this interaction in a constructive way for children suffering with Autism.

Addressing Oral Sensory Issues and Possible Remediation in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Illustrated with a Case Study

The purpose of this study are to define the nature of oral sensory issues in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), identify important components of the assessment and treatment of this issues specific to this population, and delineate specific therapeutic techniques designed to improve assessment and treatment within therapeutic settings. Literature review and case example is used to define the predominant nature of the oral sensory issues that are experienced by some children on the autism spectrum. Characteristics of this complex disorder that can have an impact on feeding skill and behavior are also identified. These factors are then integrated to create assessment and intervention techniques that can be used in conjunction with traditional feeding approaches to facilitate improvements in eating as well as reducing oral apraxic component in this unique population. The complex nature of ASD and its many influences on feeding skills and behavior create the need for modification to both assessment and treatment approaches. Additional research is needed to create therapeutic protocols that can be used by speech-language pathologists to effectively assess and treat feeding and oro motor apraxic difficulties that are commonly encountered in children with ASD.

Stereotypical Motor Movement Recognition Using Microsoft Kinect with Artificial Neural Network

Autism spectrum disorder is a complex developmental disability. It is defined by a certain set of behaviors. Persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) frequently engage in stereotyped and repetitive motor movements. The objective of this article is to propose a method to automatically detect this unusual behavior. Our study provides a clinical tool which facilitates for doctors the diagnosis of ASD. We focus on automatic identification of five repetitive gestures among autistic children in real time: body rocking, hand flapping, fingers flapping, hand on the face and hands behind back. In this paper, we present a gesture recognition system for children with autism, which consists of three modules: model-based movement tracking, feature extraction, and gesture recognition using artificial neural network (ANN). The first one uses the Microsoft Kinect sensor, the second one chooses points of interest from the 3D skeleton to characterize the gestures, and the last one proposes a neural connectionist model to perform the supervised classification of data. The experimental results show that our system can achieve above 93.3% recognition rate.

Peer-Mediated Intervention for Social Communication Difficulties in Adolescents with Autism: Literature Review and Research Recommendations

Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) often experience social-communication difficulties that negatively impact their social interactions with typical peers. However, unlike other age and disability groups, there is little intervention research to inform best practice for these students. One evidence-based strategy for younger students with ASD is peer-mediated intervention (PMI). PMI may be particularly promising for use with adolescents, as peers are readily available and are natural experts for encouraging authentic high school conversations. This paper provides a review of previous research that evaluated the use of PMI to improve the socialcommunication skills of students with ASD. Specific intervention features associated with positive student outcomes are identified and recommendations for future research are provided. Adolescents with ASD are targeted due the critical importance of social conversation at the high school level.