Archive for November, 2013

Yesterday, in a publication in Nature, scientists showed that it is possible to identify markers of autism in the first 6 months of life, much before children begin to show symptoms. In this study, these markers predicted both diagnosis and level of disability 2 years later when the children were evaluated by expert clinicians. The scientists used eye-tracking technology to measure the way babies visually engage with others. If these results are replicated in larger samples, these procedures might in the future empower primary care physicians to screen for autism as part of routine well-baby check ups. Equal energy and resources will then have to be invested in improving access to early treatment so that children are afforded the opportunity to fulfill their full potential.

For the full article from Nature, click here.

For the New York Times article, Baby’s Gaze May Signal Autism, a Study Finds, click here.

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Last week, the Autism Science Foundation attended the 8th Annual Rockland Autism Symposium! We were proud to be co-sponsoring the event for the fifth year in a row, as well as eager to hear all about the latest science from the speakers that presented at the event. While at the symposium, we sat down with two of the day’s speakers to hear first-hand about the work they’ve been doing.

First, we spoke with Dr. Joshua Diehl (and his robot, Kelly!) about robots being used in autism therapy. Dr. Joshua Diehl is a William J. Shaw Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Notre Dame and an Associate Editor of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. His research focuses on understanding and improving social-communication in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. More recently, he has been interested in the utilization of adaptive technology, an area of research that has not kept pace with the rapid development, and subsequent marketing of products for use with individuals with ASD. His work is interdisciplinary by nature; he has published his work in prominent journals and book chapters in the fields of psychology, speech-language pathology, linguistics, robotics, and disability studies. His work on the clinical uses of robots for ASD treatment has been featured on NBC, MSNBC, PBS, Times of India, WebMD, and the Wall Street Journal. Dr. Diehl received his B.A. from Princeton University in Psychology, and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Rochester, where he was a LEND fellow. He completed a clinical psychology internship at Golisano Children’s Hospital in Rochester, New York and a Postdctoral Fellowship in Childhood Neuropsychiatric disorders at the Yale Child Study Center. Dr. Diehl has received recognition for his research, teaching, and clinical work. He is also a proud “sib;” his little brother was born with a developmental disability and is the inspiration for his work.




Next, we caught up with Dr. James Chok, who spoke with us about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and autism. Dr. Chok is a licensed psychologist, neuropsychologist, and Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Dr. Chok received his doctoral degree from the University of North Carolina and completed a one-year internship and two year postdoctoral fellowship in neuropsychology at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School. He is currently a Behavioral Psychologist/Neuropsychologist at Melmark New England. Dr. Chok is also the Director of Training for Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology practicum at Melmark New England. He has authored several papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals and presented research findings at numerous professional conferences. In 2011, Dr. Chok was the recipient of the Outstanding Practitioner Award given by the Berkshire Association for Applied Behavior Analysis and Therapy. He is currently investigating the assessment and treatment of obsessive-compulsive behavior in individuals with autism spectrum disorders, teaches courses in research design and measurement at UMASS Boston and Endicott College, and is the Vice President of the New Hampshire chapter of the International OCD Foundation.



We hope to see you at the Rockland Autism Symposium next year!

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