6. Autism Spectrum Disorder
Description & Epidemiology
Describe the key features of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and explain how the signs and symptoms of this disorder exist along a continuum.
Show how the prevalence of ASD varies as a function of children’s gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.
Identify the genetic, epigenetic, and brain differences associated with ASD in young children.
List and describe early deficits in social cognition typically shown by infants and toddlers who are later diagnosed
Identification, Prevention, & Treatment
Describe several evidenced-based treatments that can improve the social and behavioral functioning of youths with ASD.
Provide examples of evidence-based techniques that can improve the communication skills of youths with ASD.
Note: The number before each objective shows its corresponding module in the text.
Ivar Løvaas used applied behavior analysis to help young children with autism develop social and language skills. In this excellent video, watch Løvaas work with 3-year-old Lisa, a nonverbal girl with autism.
Sesame Street's Julia
In March 2017, Sesame Street introduced its first muppet with autism spectrum disorder. Julia is a four-year-old girl with ASD.
Dr. Connie Kasari, professor of education and psychiatry at UCLA, discusses evidence-based treatment options for parents of children with ASD.
Early Signs of Autism
This excellent video, produced by the Kennedy Krieger Institute, shows early signs of ASD in children between 14 and 24 months of age and contrasts these behaviors with the behaviors of typically-developing children.
Discrete Trial Training
This video is the first part of the Autism Intervention Training Video Series. It provides examples of discrete trial training, an essential feature of most behavioral interventions for ASD.
Proloquo2go is an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) app that can help children with ASD and other developmental disabilities communicate with family and friends.
The Picture Exchange Communication System is a low-tech but highly effective AAC that can help children with autism and other developmental disabilities communicate with caregivers.
UCLA Young Autism Project
This video shows original films from the UCLA Young Autism Project and the outcomes of several children who participated in the treatment program. It also summarizes the results of this important study.
Pivotal Response Treatment
Pivotal response treatment is a behavioral approach to treating autism that seeks to increase the motivation and self-regulation skills of children with autism. It's administered in natural settings.
Reciprocal Imitation Training
Michigan State University Professor Brooke Ingersoll talks about helping very young children with autism using evidence-based techniques like reciprocal imitation training.
The TEACCH approach relies on a carefully structured classroom environment, visual schedules, and scaffolding to help children with autism work independently during the day.
Theory of Mind
Children with autism often have delays in theory of mind. MIT cognitive neuroscientist Rebecca Saxe shows how theory of mind is tested and how it changes across development.
The Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABA International) is a professional organization which serves to develop, enhance, and support the growth of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice. Click on the “Behavior Analysis” link at the top to learn more about ABA.
The Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network is a group of programs funded by CDC to estimate the number of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and other developmental disabilities living in different areas of the United States. This site will provide the latest information regarding the prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Autism Speaks is a leading science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Their site has a lot of excellent information.
The CDC provides excellent, user-friendly information about the causes, prevalence, and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Their “free materials” link provides access to dozens of free booklets and pamphlets about autism and other developmental disabilities.