Purdue Honors College Summer Mini-Courses: Trends and Issues in Autism Intervention
This mini-course provides an introduction to early educational and behavioral intervention for children with autism. You will develop an awareness of the evidence-base for autism treatment models and become familiar with current trends and issues related to autism intervention. Specific attention will be given to issues of pseudoscience and fad treatments for autism and to issues surrounding inclusive educational opportunities for children with autism.
Dr. Mandy Rispoli is an Associate Professor of Special Education at Purdue University, the Co-Director of the Purdue Autism Cluster, and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst- Doctoral level. Dr. Rispoli’s research explores functional behavior assessments and function-based interventions in educational settings, and innovations in professional development for teachers of young children with autism and challenging behavior.
For more information and to register see https://honors.purdue.edu/community/summermini/
Imagine trying to improve the diagnosis, intervention, and community support for a condition that often does not look the same from one person to the next.
Dr. Mandy Rispoli, Associate Professor of Special Education in the Department of Educational Studies, along with co-authors Marjorie Charlop and Russell Lang, published Play and Social Skills for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder which discusses the deficits in the development and presentation of play behavior and social skills that are considered central characteristics of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). [Read more…]
In 2008, based on a sample of 8 year olds, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that the prevalence of autism had risen to 1 in 88 in American children. By 2010, using a similar sample, it was announced that the incidence had climbed to 1 in 68. Based on these latest numbers, 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls are being diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Three years ago in a national telephone survey of 100,000 families, the incidence was projected at 1 in 50. The CDC just released new incidence numbers based on input from 11 states. The incidence remains stable at 1 in 68. (Note: Different data collection methods will often yield differing results.)
So, what does this mean for Indiana? Since no database currently exists in Indiana with the actual number of people on the autism spectrum, either statewide or by county, the only real figure comes from the December 1 child count data collected by the Indiana Department of Education, Department of Special Education. These data are collected from all public school districts across Indiana. The chart at the end of this article illustrates the increasing incidence of ASD since 1999.
According to the child count data from December 2012, the number of children served under the diagnostic category of ASD was 13,020; and with the December 2013 data, the number had grown to 13,675. By December 2014, this number had grown to 14,179 and by December 2015 there was an increase from the previous year of 1,112 for a total of 15,291. Last year’s child count data (December 2016) was 15,815 for an increase of 524 students ages 3-21. This year’s child count data (December 2017) for children ages 3-21 was 16356 for an increase of 541.
The number of students enrolled in Indiana’s public and non-public schools during the 2017-2018 school year is 1,139,822. Using this data and the child count data from December 2017, approximately 14.35 per 1,000 students in Indiana have a diagnosis of ASD. Last year’s identification rate was 1 in 72. This year’s identification rate is 1 in 69.69. The child count data does not include children who are not on special education service plans, are home schooled or are in non-public schools. All who have either an IEP or special education service plan are counted.
The other reality is that many of these children come with complex issues and support needs. According to the CDC, ASD commonly co-occurs with other developmental, psychiatric, neurologic, chromosomal, and genetic diagnoses. The co-occurrence of one or more non-ASD developmental diagnoses is 83% and maybe as high as 90%. The co-occurrence of one or more psychiatric diagnoses is 10%. The potential impact on our schools and other service delivery systems continues to be tremendous. Education services and an array of community supports are needed to successfully support children and adults on the autism spectrum.
Pratt, C. (2018). Increasing incidence of autism spectrum disorders in Indiana. The Reporter, 22(11). Retrieved from https://www.iidc.indiana.edu/pages/incidence-of-autism-spectrum-disorders-in-indiana
Indiana Resource Center for Autism
Indiana Institute on Disability and Community
Indiana University, Bloomington
1905 N Range Road, Bloomington, IN 47408-9801
A long-distance telehealth study at Purdue University could help researchers identify autism symptoms in infancy, which could ultimately help children receive targeted therapy earlier.
Bridgette Tonnsen, PAC member and an assistant professor of clinical psychology, who studies autism in high-risk infants, is leading the five-year study which is focused on prospective surveillance of autism symptom emergence in high-risk infants with fragile X and other neurogenetic syndromes. The nearly $1 million study is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Tonnsen is a member of the Purdue Autism Cluster.
“While we have made a lot of progress in autism as far as understanding what the symptoms look like, and how to treat and support families, we are still lacking reliable markers of autism before the first year,” said Tonnsen. “The brain changes rapidly during the first year of life, so if we are not detecting children until they are three or four we are missing a great opportunity to support their development. We certainly don’t want to rush a diagnosis, but having some pre-diagnostic interventions could significantly help these children for the long-term.” Read more…
Bridgette Tonnsen, 765-494-6754, firstname.lastname@example.org
Go to Google and do a quick online news search for “autism” and you’ll find dozens of articles on all sorts of topics like “New System to Help Children with Autism Learn Better In a Classroom Setting” from Autism Parenting magazine and “Barber goes above the call of duty to ensure child with autism gets amazing haircut,” from ABC News. Faculty with the Purdue Autism Cluster are researching ways to best assess, understand and then help those with ASD.
Putting the Puzzle Together
“Autism Spectrum Disorder is complex,” says Mandy Rispoli, associate professor of special education and co-director of Purdue Autism Cluster. “It’s no wonder that the puzzle piece has become a popular logo for autism groups. In many ways, autism research is attempting to help put the pieces of the puzzle together to determine how autism develops, how it is assessed, how people with autism and their families can be best supported, and what interventions are linked to positive life outcomes for this population,” Rispoli says. “The nature of these issues is wide reaching and requires researchers with varied backgrounds and areas of expertise.”
The Purdue Autism Cluster team includes ten associated faculty members from across disciplines—two from the College of Education— and others from the Colleges of Health and Human Sciences, Science and Veterinary Medicine. They are also affiliated with the Purdue University Institute for Integrative Neuroscience.
Rose Mason, assistant professor of special education and the most recent addition to the team, says, “My current research is focusing on incorporating technology to increase access to interventions in a variety of settings (e.g. college, community and job) for adolescents and adults with autism to support improved postschool outcomes. We know a lot about what works with younger populations with autism, such as preschool and elementary, and the goal is to learn how we can apply some of those interventions with older populations.”
Thanks to financial support from the Gadomski Foundation and the Anderson Foundation, the Purdue Autism Cluster has funded pilot collaborative autism research grants. Nine interdisciplinary projects investigating topics such as sleep and daytime behaviors, early markers for autism, and the development of a summer camp that integrated autism research with intervention were made possible.
In addition to research, the Cluster also engages in collaborative activities and projects, such as organizing an annual speaker series and designing new courses geared to attract and mentor undergraduate and graduate students interested in autism-related careers.
The strength in the Autism Cluster is in the interdisciplinary connections.
“Measurement of specific behavior skills, such as commenting, engagement or conversational reciprocity can be very challenging,” says Mason. “However, there are members of the cluster that do biophysical measurement. So, instead of just looking at changes in observable behaviors, collaboration can provide opportunity to look at changes in heart rate, for example, as a measure of anxiety levels during social situations.”
Rispoli agrees. “The Autism Cluster brings together faculty from several disciplines and colleges across Purdue University so that we can build upon one another’s skill sets to look at autism in new ways and to push the field further through interdisciplinary collaborations.”
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 68 children has been identified with ASD. Ultimately, those children are who the faculty are aiming to help. “For me, it always comes back to improving the lives of young children with disabilities,” says Rispoli.
“Knowing that the research I am doing influences how my students approach their careers, leads to changes in teacher practices, and results in improved outcomes for children with autism is the greatest reward.”
Source: Purdue University, College of Education, LAUNCH, Fall 2017 https://www.education.purdue.edu/college-magazine/
The Purdue Autism Cluster was awarded one of four community-building grants from the Office of the Provost. The grant will fund a research conference to be held in mid-October 2018 at Purdue. The conference will focus on the topic “Measuring and Predicting Change in Autism” with tracks for applied and basic science.
According to child count data collected by the Indiana Department of Education and the Department of Special Education, a recent report estimates the incidence rate for children with ASD at 1 in 72.
Pratt, C. (2017). Incidence of autism spectrum disorders in Indiana. The Reporter, 21 (15). Retrieved from https://www.iidc.indiana.edu/pages/incidence-of-autism-spectrum-disorders-in-indiana.