Pubmed du 27/01/21

mercredi 27 janvier 2021

1. Bloch C, Burghof L, Lehnhardt FG, Vogeley K, Falter-Wagner C. Alexithymia traits outweigh autism traits in the explanation of depression in adults with autism. Sci Rep ;2021 (Jan 26) ;11(1):2258.

When contemplating the alarming depression rates in adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), there is a need to find factors explaining heightened symptoms of depression. Beyond the impact of autism traits, markedly increased levels of alexithymia traits should be considered as a candidate for explaining why individuals with ASD report higher levels of depressive symptoms. Here, we aim to identify the extent to which autism or alexithymia traits indicate depressive symptoms in ASD and whether the pattern of association are specific to ASD. Data of a large (N = 400) representative clinical population of adults referred to autism diagnostics have been investigated and split by cases with a confirmed ASD diagnosis (N = 281) and cases with a ruled out ASD diagnosis (N = 119). Dominance analysis revealed the alexithymia factor, difficulties in identifying feelings, as the strongest predictor for depressive symptomatology in ASD, outweighing autism traits and other alexithymia factors. This pattern of prediction was not specific to ASD and was shared by clinical controls from the referral population with a ruled out ASD diagnosis. Thus, the association of alexithymia traits with depression is not unique to ASD and may constitute a general psychopathological mechanism in clinical samples.

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2. Buono S, Zingale M, Città S, Mongelli V, Trubia G, Mascali G, Occhipinti P, Pettinato E, Ferri R, Gagliano C, Greco D. Clinical management of individuals with Intellectual Disability : The outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic as experienced in a clinical and research center Research in Developmental Disabilities. Res Dev Disabil ;2021 (Jan 9) ;110:103856.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Oasi Research Institute of Troina (Italy) became an important hotbed for infection ; in fact, 109 patients with different levels of Intellectual Disability (ID) tested positive for COVID-19. The procedures and interventions put in place at the Oasi Research Institute due to the COVID-19 pandemic are exhaustively reported in this paper. The description of the clinical procedures as well as remote/in person psychological support services provided to people with ID and their families are here divided into three different sections : Phase I (or Acute phase), Phase II (or Activity planning), and Phase III (or Activity consolidation). In each section, the main psycho-pathological characteristics of patients, the reactions of family members and the multidisciplinary interventions put in place are also described.

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3. Francis K, Karantanos G, Al-Ozairi A, AlKhadhari S. Prevention in Autism Spectrum Disorder : A Lifelong Focused Approach. Brain Sci ;2021 (Jan 24) ;11(2)

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex highly heritable disorder, in which multiple environmental factors interact with the genes to increase its risk and lead to variable clinical presentations and outcomes. Furthermore, the inherent fundamental deficits of ASD in social attention and interaction critically diverge children from the typical pathways of learning, "creating" what we perceive as autism syndrome during the first three years of life. Later in life, training and education, the presence and management of comorbidities, as well as social and vocational support throughout the lifespan, will define the quality of life and the adaptation of an individual with ASD. Given the overall burden of ASD, prevention strategies seem like a cost-effective endeavour that we have to explore. In this paper, we take a life course approach to prevention. We will review the possibilities of the management of risk factors from preconception until the perinatal period, that of early intervention in the first three years of life and that of effective training and support from childhood until adulthood.

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4. Javed H, Lee W, Park CH. Toward an Automated Measure of Social Engagement for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder-A Personalized Computational Modeling Approach. Front Robot AI ;2020 ;7:43.

Social engagement is a key indicator of an individual’s socio-emotional and cognitive states. For a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), this serves as an important factor in assessing the quality of the interactions and interventions. So far, qualitative measures of social engagement have been used extensively in research and in practice, but a reliable, objective, and quantitative measure is yet to be widely accepted and utilized. In this paper, we present our work on the development of a framework for the automated measurement of social engagement in children with ASD that can be utilized in real-world settings for the long-term clinical monitoring of a child’s social behaviors as well as for the evaluation of the intervention methods being used. We present a computational modeling approach to derive the social engagement metric based on a user study with children between the ages of 4 and 12 years. The study was conducted within a child-robot interaction setting that targets sensory processing skills in children. We collected video, audio and motion-tracking data from the subjects and used them to generate personalized models of social engagement by training a multi-channel and multi-layer convolutional neural network. We then evaluated the performance of this network by comparing it with traditional classifiers and assessed its limitations, followed by discussions on the next steps toward finding a comprehensive and accurate metric for social engagement in ASD.

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5. Kostrubiec V, Kruck J. Collaborative Research Project : Developing and Testing a Robot-Assisted Intervention for Children With Autism. Front Robot AI ;2020 ;7:37.

The present work is a collaborative research aimed at testing the effectiveness of the robot-assisted intervention administered in real clinical settings by real educators. Social robots dedicated to assisting persons with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are rarely used in clinics. In a collaborative effort to bridge the gap between innovation in research and clinical practice, a team of engineers, clinicians and researchers working in the field of psychology developed and tested a robot-assisted educational intervention for children with low-functioning ASD (N = 20) A total of 14 lessons targeting requesting and turn-taking were elaborated, based on the Pivotal Training Method and principles of Applied Analysis of Behavior. Results showed that sensory rewards provided by the robot elicited more positive reactions than verbal praises from humans. The robot was of greatest benefit to children with a low level of disability. The educators were quite enthusiastic about children’s progress in learning basic psychosocial skills from interactions with the robot. The robot nonetheless failed to act as a social mediator, as more prosocial behaviors were observed in the control condition, where instead of interacting with the robot children played with a ball. We discuss how to program robots to the distinct needs of individuals with ASD, how to harness robots’ likability in order to enhance social skill learning, and how to arrive at a consensus about the standards of excellence that need to be met in interdisciplinary co-creation research. Our intuition is that robotic assistance, obviously judged as to be positive by educators, may contribute to the dissemination of innovative evidence-based practice for individuals with ASD.

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6. Nadeem A, Al-Harbi NO, Ahmad SF, Alhazzani K, Attia SM, Alsanea S, Alhoshani A, Mahmood HM, Alfardan AS, Bakheet SA. Exposure to the plasticizer, Di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate during juvenile period exacerbates autism-like behavior in adult BTBR T + tf/J mice due to DNA hypomethylation and enhanced inflammation in brain and systemic immune cells. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry ;2021 (Jan 23):110249.

Epigenetic modifications are known to play a crucial role in the behavioral modifications through regulation of gene expression. Environmental factors are known to regulate genetic transcription through DNA methylation which is one of the mechanisms of epigenetic modification. Di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) is one of the most abundant phthalate plasticizers in day-to-day products. Prenatal/postnatal DEHP administration has been reported to cause inflammation as well as behavioral dysregulation, however it is not known if exposure to DEHP during juvenile stage affects peripheral/neuronal inflammation and autism-like symptoms in BTBR mice at adulthood. This study investigated effect of DEHP exposure during juvenile period on DNA methylation (global DNA methylation/DNMT1 expression) and inflammation (IL-17A, IL-6, MCP-1, TNF-α) in CD4 + T cells/CD11c + DCs and cortex, and autism-like symptoms (three-chambered sociability test, self-grooming and marble burying test) in asocial BTBR and social C57 mice at adulthood. Our data reveal that BTBR mice exposed to DEHP during juvenile period have hypomethylated DNA/DNMT1 expression in CD11c + DCs and cortex as compared to vehicle-exposed BTBR mice. It was associated with upregulated inflammation in periphery [plasma IL-6/IL-17A, CD11c + DCs (IL-6/MCP-1/TNF-α), and CD4+ T cells (IL-17A)] and cortex (IL-6, MCP-1, TNF-α), and aggravation in autism-like symptoms in DEHP-treated BTBR mice. These data propose that exposure of DEHP during juvenile period may affect autism-like behavior and inflammation in BTBR mice at adulthood through epigenetic regulation. Therefore, underlying genetic predisposition may play a crucial role in worsening of autistic symptoms in ASD subjects in adulthood if they are exposed to environmental pollutants such as DEHP during juvenile period.

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7. Romeo DM, Brogna C, Belli A, Lucibello S, Cutrona C, Apicella M, Mercuri E, Mariotti P. Sleep Disorders in Autism Spectrum Disorder Pre-School Children : An Evaluation Using the Sleep Disturbance Scale for Children. Medicina (Kaunas) ;2021 (Jan 22) ;57(2)

Background and Objectives : Sleep disorders are common in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The aims of this study were to describe the incidence and characteristics of sleep disorders using a questionnaire completed by the caregiver in a sample of preschool-aged children with ASD and to identify possible differences in a control group of peers. Materials and Methods : Sleep disorders were investigated with the Sleep Disturbance Scale for Children (SDSC) in a population of pre-school-aged (3-5 years) ASD children and in a control group. The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-second ed. (ADOS-2) was further used to assess autism symptom severity. A total of 84 children (69 males ; mean age 3.9 ± 0.8 years) with a diagnosis of ASD and 84 healthy controls (65 males ; mean age of 3.7 ± 0.8 years) that were matched for age and sex were enrolled. Results : ASD children reported significantly higher (pathological) scores than the control group on the SDSC total scores and in some of the factor scores, such as Difficulty in Initiating and Maintaining Sleep (DIMS), disorders of excessive somnolence (DOES), and sleep hyperhidrosis. A total of 18% of ASD children had a pathological SDSC total T-score, and 46% had an abnormal score on at least one sleep factor ; DIMS, parasomnias, and DOES showed the highest rates among the sleep factors. Younger children (3 years) reported higher scores in DIMS and sleep hyperhidrosis than older ones (4 and 5 years). No specific correlation was found between ADOS-2 and SDSC scores. Conclusions : Pre-school children with ASD showed a high incidence of sleep disorders with different distributions of specific sleep factors according to their age. We suggest a screening assessment of sleep disorders using the SDSC in these children with a more in-depth evaluation for those reporting pathological scores on the questionnaire.

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8. Schadenberg BR, Reidsma D, Heylen DKJ, Evers V. Differences in Spontaneous Interactions of Autistic Children in an Interaction With an Adult and Humanoid Robot. Front Robot AI ;2020 ;7:28.

Robots are promising tools for promoting engagement of autistic children in interventions and thereby increasing the amount of learning opportunities. However, designing deliberate robot behavior aimed at engaging autistic children remains challenging. Our current understanding of what interactions with a robot, or facilitated by a robot, are particularly motivating to autistic children is limited to qualitative reports with small sample sizes. Translating insights from these reports to design is difficult due to the large individual differences among autistic children in their needs, interests, and abilities. To address these issues, we conducted a descriptive study and report on an analysis of how 31 autistic children spontaneously interacted with a humanoid robot and an adult within the context of a robot-assisted intervention, as well as which individual characteristics were associated with the observed interactions. For this analysis, we used video recordings of autistic children engaged in a robot-assisted intervention that were recorded as part of the DE-ENIGMA database. The results showed that the autistic children frequently engaged in exploratory and functional interactions with the robot spontaneously, as well as in interactions with the adult that were elicited by the robot. In particular, we observed autistic children frequently initiating interactions aimed at making the robot do a certain action. Autistic children with stronger language ability, social functioning, and fewer autism spectrum-related symptoms, initiated more functional interactions with the robot and more robot-elicited interactions with the adult. We conclude that the children’s individual characteristics, in particular the child’s language ability, can be indicative of which types of interaction they are more likely to find interesting. Taking these into account for the design of deliberate robot behavior, coupled with providing more autonomy over the robot’s behavior to the autistic children, appears promising for promoting engagement and facilitating more learning opportunities.

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9. Willsey HR, Exner CRT, Xu Y, Everitt A, Sun N, Wang B, Dea J, Schmunk G, Zaltsman Y, Teerikorpi N, Kim A, Anderson AS, Shin D, Seyler M, Nowakowski TJ, Harland RM, Willsey AJ, State MW. Parallel in vivo analysis of large-effect autism genes implicates cortical neurogenesis and estrogen in risk and resilience. Neuron ;2021 (Jan 22)

Gene Ontology analyses of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) risk genes have repeatedly highlighted synaptic function and transcriptional regulation as key points of convergence. However, these analyses rely on incomplete knowledge of gene function across brain development. Here we leverage Xenopus tropicalis to study in vivo ten genes with the strongest statistical evidence for association with ASD. All genes are expressed in developing telencephalon at time points mapping to human mid-prenatal development, and mutations lead to an increase in the ratio of neural progenitor cells to maturing neurons, supporting previous in silico systems biological findings implicating cortical neurons in ASD vulnerability, but expanding the range of convergent functions to include neurogenesis. Systematic chemical screening identifies that estrogen, via Sonic hedgehog signaling, rescues this convergent phenotype in Xenopus and human models of brain development, suggesting a resilience factor that may mitigate a range of ASD genetic risks.

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10. Yela-González N, Santamaría-Vázquez M, Ortiz-Huerta JH. Activities of Daily Living, Playfulness and Sensory Processing in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder : A Spanish Study. Children (Basel) ;2021 (Jan 20) ;8(2)

The purposes of the study were to identify whether differences exist between Spanish children with ASD and neurotypical development in relation to Activities of Daily Living (ADL), playfulness, and sensory processing ; as well as to confirm whether a relation exists between those areas and sensory processing. STUDY DESIGN : A descriptive cross-sectional study. METHODS : Forty children, 20 with a diagnosis of ASD and 20 with neurotypical development, were recruited. The measurement tools used were the Pediatric Evaluation of Disability Inventory (PEDI), Test of Playfulness (ToP), and Sensory Processing Measure (SPM). RESULTS : The sensory processing of children with ASD were related to decreased functional skills performance of ADL (F = 94.4, p = 0.00) and playfulness (p = 0.00) than neurotypical children ; in addition, the problems of sensory reactivity were associated with worse development in these occupational areas (p = 0.00 for both Spearman correlations). CONCLUSIONS : Children with ASD present worse performance of functional skills and playfulness than neurotypical ones. Likewise, sensory reactivity is related to the development in the occupational areas.

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