ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints201903.0153.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Psychology Keywords: Autism, Mate Crime, Relationships, Friendships
Online: 14 March 2019 (12:26:19 CET)
Mate crime is a specific subset of hate crime in which the perpetrator is known to the victim. To date, there is very little research into the perception and experience of mate crime in autism. The aim of the current study was to examine perceptions of friendship and mate crime in autistic adults, using semi-structured interviews. Five adults were interviewed about their experiences of social interactions, friendships and mate crime. Participants described distancing themselves from the ‘disability’ label whilst growing up to avoid condescension and being perceived as vulnerable, whilst learning to camouflage their social difficulties. Feelings of anxiety were associated with socialising, and participants valued relationships that did not place too many overwhelming demands on their time or energy. Finally, all participants had prior experiences of bullying. They understood the concept of mate crime but were unsure as to whether they would be able to identify it in their own lives if it occurred. However they could identify potential support networks in close friends and family. Results highlight the importance of further research into positive and negative aspects of social relationships in autistic adults, and the need to provide support to those who are socially vulnerable.
HYPOTHESIS | doi:10.20944/preprints202211.0407.v1
Subject: Medicine And Pharmacology, Psychiatry And Mental Health Keywords: Autism; autism spectrum disorder; autophagy; macrophage polarization; neurogenesis; taurine
Online: 22 November 2022 (05:46:47 CET)
Contemporary research has found that people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) exhibit aberrant immunological function, with a shift toward increased cytokine production and unusual cell function. Microglia and astroglia were found to be significantly activated in immuno-cytochemical studies, and cytokine analysis revealed that the macrophage chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), interleukin 6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α), and transforming growth factor β-1 (TGFB-1), all generated in the neuroglia, constituted the most predominant cytokines in the brain. Taurine (2-aminoethanesulfonic acid) is a promising therapeutic molecule able to increase the activity of antioxidant enzymes and ATPase, which may be protective against aluminum-induced neurotoxicity. It can also stimulate neurogenesis, synaptogenesis, and reprogramming of proinflammatory M1 macrophage polarization by decreasing mitophagy (mitochondrial autophagy) and raising the expression of the markers of the anti-inflammatory and pro-healing M2 macrophages, such as macrophage mannose receptor (MMR, CD206) and IL-10, while lowering the expression of the M1 inflammatory factor genes. Taurine also induces autophagy, which is a mechanism that is impaired in microglia cells and is critically associated with the pathophysiology of the ASD. We hypothesize here that taurine could reprogram the metabolism of M1 macrophages that are overstimulated in the nervous system of people suffering from ASD, thereby decreasing the neuroinflammatory process, neuronal death, and improving cognitive functions. Therefore, we think that taurine can serve as an important lead for the development of novel drugs for the ASD treatment.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202203.0020.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Psychology Keywords: heterogeneity; autism models; subgroups in autism; ASD-questionnaires; analysis tools
Online: 1 March 2022 (11:51:15 CET)
The goal of this paper is to review the relevant literature on autism questionnaires, models, analytic tools, and subgrouping, focusing on the opportunities and limitations. We examined how the size and nature of the database and the number and type of parameters measured determine the use of analytic tools and the expected type of results. To support our position about the examined aspects, we rely on various parts of the reviewed articles. We emphasize that the individual results in each article can only be interpreted in the light of the methods that brought about the conclusions. The reviewed literature suggests a heterogeneous palette in autism subtypes instead of distinct, well-characterized subgroups, or a single-dimensional continuous spectrum.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202210.0189.v1
Subject: Medicine And Pharmacology, Pharmacology And Toxicology Keywords: acetaminophen; autism; paracetamol; neurodevelopment
Online: 13 October 2022 (08:00:33 CEST)
Evidence that early life exposure to acetaminophen causes neurodevelopmental injury in susceptible children has mounted for more than a decade. Evidence is diverse, including extensive work with laboratory animals, otherwise unexplained associations, factors associated with the metabolism of acetaminophen, and some limited studies in humans. Although evidence has reached an overwhelming level and has been reviewed in detail recently, some controversy remains. In this narrative review, some of those controversies are evaluated. First, the associations through time between acetaminophen use and the prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders are considered. A systematic review reveals that the use of acetaminophen in the pediatric population was never tracked carefully, but historical events that affected use of the drug were documented and are sufficient to establish apparent correlations with changes in the prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders. Second, problems with exclusive reliance on results from meta-analyses of large datasets and from studies involving small time frames of drug exposure are reviewed. Third, the potential bias in a study designed to separate the role of vaccines and acetaminophen in the induction of autism spectrum disorder (Autism 2008;12:293-307) is carefully evaluated. Finally, evidence demonstrating why some children are susceptible to acetaminophen-induced neurodevelopmental injury is examined. It is concluded that, at least among the factors considered, there is no valid rationale for controversy regarding the conclusion that early life exposure to acetaminophen causes neurodevelopmental injury in susceptible babies and small children.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202011.0224.v2
Subject: Medicine And Pharmacology, Pediatrics, Perinatology And Child Health Keywords: acetaminophen; paracetamol; autism; pediatrics; safety
Online: 30 March 2022 (05:47:18 CEST)
A growing body of literature suggests a causative relationship between severe adverse neurological outcomes and early life exposure to paracetamol (acetaminophen) in the presence of oxidative stress. Review of the literature revealed that, although its use is not regularly monitored, paracetamol has achieved near universal acceptance, with exposure in some pediatric populations exceeding 90%. In addition, use of the drug as well as associated adverse outcomes may have risen as a result of pharmaceutical advertising rather than need, and inappropriate use of the drug, both in terms of dose and indication, is widespread. These findings indicate that many clinicians and patients do not, at the present time, evenly weigh the potential risks with the potential benefits of paracetamol exposure early in life. Although retrospective studies might be envisioned to further address the neurodevelopmental risks of paracetamol use during early development, in silico simulations demonstrated that such studies can be thwarted by very high rates of use of the drug combined with associations between paracetamol use and oxidative stressors that act as cofactors in the induction of neurodevelopmental injury. These findings suggest that, despite persistent uncertainty, clinicians and patients should be more aware of available information pointing toward the potential dangers for neurodevelopment of early life exposure to paracetamol. Most importantly, health care workers need to provide a more balanced view, weighing both risks and benefits, when providing advice for patients regarding paracetamol use during periods of brain development.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202202.0115.v1
Subject: Medicine And Pharmacology, Pediatrics, Perinatology And Child Health Keywords: acetaminophen; autism; infant; paracetamol; neurodevelopment
Online: 8 February 2022 (13:42:48 CET)
Acetaminophen use during pregnancy and early childhood was accepted in the 1970s, but is now a subject of considerable concern. Careful analysis shows that initial acceptance of the drug was based on false assumptions and ignorance of the impact of the drug on brain development. Fourteen studies now indicate that prenatal exposure to acetaminophen is associated with neurodevelopmental problems. Based on corrections for confounding factors applied to the analyses of available data, it can be concluded that prenatal exposure to acetaminophen causes statistically significant risks of one subtype of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), developmental delays, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In contrast, data regarding postnatal exposure to acetaminophen are limited, and several factors impede a classic multivariate analysis of data to resolve the issue. However, circumstantial evidence regarding postnatal exposure to the drug is abundant, and it can be concluded beyond a reasonable doubt that postnatal exposure to acetaminophen in susceptible children is responsible for many if not most cases of ASD. Circumstantial evidence includes at least three otherwise unexplained temporal relationships, data from laboratory animal studies, several miscellaneous and otherwise unexplained correlations, and the lack of alternative suspects that fit the evidence-derived profile.
Subject: Medicine And Pharmacology, Immunology And Allergy Keywords: behavior; neurodevelopment; infant; child; autism
Online: 19 October 2021 (10:13:55 CEST)
Background: Although widely believed to be safe for use in infants and children when used as directed, increasing evidence indicates that early life exposure to paracetamol (acetaminophen) may cause long-term neurodevelopmental problems. Further, recent studies in animal models demonstrate that cognitive development is exquisitely sensitive to paracetamol exposure during early development. In this study, evidence for the claim that paracetamol is safe was evaluated using a systematic literature search. Methods: Publications on PubMed between 1974 and 2017 that contained the keywords “infant” and either “paracetamol” or “acetaminophen” were considered. Of those initial 3096 papers, 218 were identified that made claims that paracetamol was safe for use with infants or children. From these 218, a total of 103 papers were identified as sources of authority for the safety claim. Results and Conclusions: A total of 52 papers contained actual experiments designed to test safety, and had a median follow-up time of 48 hours. None monitored neurodevelopment. Further, no trial considered total exposure to drug since birth, eliminating the possibility that the effects of drug exposure on long-term neurodevelopment could be accurately assessed. On the other hand, abundant and sufficient evidence was found to conclude that paracetamol does not induce acute liver damage in babies or children when used as directed.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202306.0050.v1
Subject: Medicine And Pharmacology, Neuroscience And Neurology Keywords: ASD; autism; autistic spectrum disease; NSE; Neuron-specific enolase; autism biomarker; neuroinflammation; neuronal apoptosis; mTOR
Online: 1 June 2023 (07:30:35 CEST)
Autistic spectrum disease (ASD) is an increasingly common diagnosis nowadays with a prevalence of 1-2% in most countries. Its complex causality – a combination of genetic, immune, metabolic and environmental factors - is translated into pleiomorphic developmental disorders of various severity, which have in common two main aspects: repetitive, restrictive behaviors, and difficulties in social interaction varying from awkward habits and verbalization to complete lack of interest from the ASD child for the outside world. The wide variety of ASD causes also makes it very difficult to find a common denominator – a disease biomarker and medication – and currently there is no commonly used diagnostic and therapeutic strategy besides clinical evaluation and psychotherapy.It is known that inflammation is present in a majority of ASD children, and blood inflammatory markers, together with metabolic, electrophysiological markers and imagistics are useful for ASD diagnostic validation and treatment; however, they tend to leave out a sizeable proportion of ASD kids who do not have such modifications. Genetic testing – whole exome sequencing or targeted profiling on about 500 ASD-linked genes- may also provide good insight into pathophysiology, however many times its results are more restrictive rather than offering additional therapeutic options.Here we describe a new biomarker for ASD - the neuron-specific enolase (NSE) - which was elevated above the normal clinical range (less than 16.3 ng/mL) in the vast majority of ASD kids tested in our study (40 of 41, or 97.5%). This finding opens up a new direction for diagnostic confirmation, dynamic evaluation and therapeutic intervention for ASD kids.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202305.1435.v1
Subject: Medicine And Pharmacology, Anatomy And Physiology Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder; microbiota; meta-analysis
Online: 19 May 2023 (10:54:34 CEST)
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder with high heterogeneity and has a prevalence of 0.7% to 3.2% in children. Gut microbiota are a collection of microorganisms that inhabit in human guts, which can produce various metabolites that affect the homeostasis and functions of nervous and endocrine systems. There are many studies on the relationship between various gut microbiota and ASD, but the alteration pattern of microbial profiles in ASD children is not conclusive. In order to more robustly describe the deregulations of gut microbiota compositions in ASD, a meta-analysis was performed. The related investigations from PubMed, Embase and Web of Science were collected and manually reviewed. By procedure, 26 eligible studies until 2023, with a total of 1021 ASD and 951 typically developed children and adolescents, were included for the meta-analysis. RevMan5.4 was used to assess the overall effect of 8 microbes at the phylum level and 19 microbes at the genus level. Results demonstrated relatively up-regulated abundance of Bacteroidetes, Verrucomicrobia, Bacteroides, Clostridium, Dorea and Sutterella, and down-regulated abundance of Proteobacteria, Bifidobacterium, Coprococcus, and Akkermansia in ASD children, indicating partly agreement in the ASD-associated microbes, albeit the heterogeneity of ASD.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints201804.0302.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Psychology Keywords: autism, cognition, components, psychiatric impairments, comorbidity
Online: 24 April 2018 (01:02:55 CEST)
We propose a theory of ASD as a condition of comorbid cognitive impairments that corrupt the learning, encoding, and manipulation of episodic and semantic memories. We consider (i) episodic and semantic memory functions of the entorhinal-hippocampal complex, (ii) constraints on the transfer and encoding of these memory components into neocortical areas, and (iii) the demands of cognitively manipulating memories in distributed computations being necessary for goal oriented interactions. In ASD, learning and cognitive challenges manifest in diverse ways but especially in high-complexity model predictive control tasks with latent variables. ASD impairments in social interactions represent a prototypical example. Social interactions are at the high end of complexity and require processes (i)–(iii) to work in a concerted fashion due to the need for the learning and estimation of many, sometimes latent, parameters, including emotions, intention, physical and mental capabilities as well as the predictive modeling of these parameters for decision making and timed-action series. We put forth the idea that autism is a result of an arbitrary combination of otherwise not prominent corruptions in processes (i)–(iii). Together, these corruptions may severely impair intelligence and slow down learning, especially in high complexity learning tasks. Over time, slow learning may spare the spontaneous learning-by-doing method - namely, repetitive behavioral patterns, whereas behavioral failures related to complex tasks can restrict interest in such task, thus inducing a fear of novelty; conversely, the fear of novelty restricts interest and can slow learning down. We embed our thoughts into a predictive autoencoding, goal-oriented model of a deterministic world. We compare this model to others, such as the noisy brain model, the Bayesian prior theory, the mirror neuron theory and the weak central coherence theory. We argue that the predictive autoencoder model of the deterministic world harmonizes with these other models and embraces them in a straightforward way.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints201804.0216.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Psychology Keywords: autism, ASD, psychological evaluations, ATEC, Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist, MSEC, language delay, developmental disorder, language therapy
Online: 16 April 2018 (16:27:16 CEST)
Background: Mental synthesis is the conscious purposeful process of synthesizing a novel mental image from objects stored in memory. In our everyday use of language, we rely on mental synthesis to communicate an infinite number of images with a finite number of words. In typical children, the timeline of mental synthesis acquisition is highly correlated with an increasing vocabulary. Children with ASD, on the other hand, may learn hundreds of words but never acquire mental synthesis. In these individuals, tests assessing vocabulary comprehension may fail to demonstrate the profound deficit in mental synthesis and the resulting inability to understand flexible syntax and spatial prepositions. Objective: We developed a 20-question parent-reported evaluation tool designed to quantitatively assess mental synthesis ability and to serve as a complimentary scale for Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC). Results: Internal reliability was good (Cronbach’s alpha > .9), and the MSEC exhibited adequate test-retest reliability after a three- and nine-months follow up period. The MSEC results positively correlated with the ATEC communication subscale, providing support for construct validity. Moreover, MSEC scores were significantly different for children of different ASD severity levels confirming the known groups validity. Conclusions: This study represents the first step toward the development of an instrument to measure mental synthesis in children with ASD. Although the current empirical evaluation demonstrated strong evidence of excellent psychometric properties, such as validity and reliability, additional studies should be performed to replicate these findings.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202301.0436.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Psychology Keywords: FIBROMYALGIA; FOOD INTOLERANCE; FOOD SENSITIVITY; AUTISM; HYPERMOBILITY
Online: 25 January 2023 (03:17:18 CET)
Introduction People are presenting with chronic musculoskeletal pain at a younger age, and many fulfil criteria for fibromyalgia. We have recently shown a strong association between fibromyalgia symptoms and autistic traits in a self-selected community population, with the relationship mediated in part by the presence of hypermobility. Many respondents also described food sensitivities and intolerances. This study explores relationships between food issues and fibromyalgia symptoms in this population Methods The study used a nonexperimental, correlational design with data collected from a volunteer sample of 442 adults (aged 18-60) who completed online self-report questionnaires assessing each of fibromyalgia symptoms (ACR criteria), autistic traits (RAADS score) and hypermobility (Beighton’s test). Subjects were also asked to record any food sensitivities, allergies, or intolerances, along with their consequences. Correlation analyses and linear regressions were used to test the relationships between these features and each of fibromyalgia, autistic traits and hypermobility. Data was analysed using parametric and non-parametric techniques to assess the strength and significance of relationships, causes of variance and the potential mediating effect of food-related symptoms in the correlation between fibromyalgia features and autistic traits Results Our self-selected community population had a mean age of 24 years and was 77% female. The prevalence of fibromyalgia, autistic traits and hypermobility was 40%, 65% and 44% respectively. Half of all subjects reported food sensitivity and 31% reported food intolerance. The incidence of food-related symptoms was higher among subjects who met criteria for fibromyalgia than those who reported autistic traits or hypermobility. Food sensitivity and food intolerance were both more significantly associated with fibromyalgia (r=0.24, p>0.001 and r=0.38, p>0.001) than with autistic traits (r=0.15, p>0.01 and r=0.17, p>0.01). Discussion This is the first community study to provide evidence for a direct association between features of fibromyalgia and reported food intolerance and sensitivity. Although self-selected, the findings in our predominantly young population suggest that gluten and lactose consumption may be associated with higher levels of musculoskeletal pain. Avoidance of these foodstuffs was commonly reported to reduce symptoms. Dietary adjustment may merit further investigation as a therapeutic modality for some patients with fibromyalgia.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202206.0212.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Language And Linguistics Keywords: pitch perception; autism spectrum disorder; meta-analysis
Online: 15 June 2022 (05:41:36 CEST)
Purpose: Pitch plays an important role in auditory perception of music and language. This study provides a systematic review with meta-analysis to investigate whether individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have enhanced pitch processing ability and identify the potential factors associated with processing differences between ASD and neurotypicals. Method: We conducted a systematic search through six major electronic databases focusing on the studies that used nonspeech stimuli to provide a qualitative and quantitative assessment across existing studies on pitch perception in autism. We identified potential participant- and methodology-related moderators and conducted meta-regression analyses using mixed-effects models. Results: On the basis of 22 studies with a total of 464 participants with ASD, we obtained a small-to-medium positive effect size (0.26) in support of enhanced pitch perception in ASD.Moreover, the mean age and non-verbal IQ of participants were found to significantly moderate the between-studies heterogeneity. Conclusion: Our study provides the first meta-analysis on auditory pitch perception in ASD and demonstrates the existence of different developmental trajectories between individuals with ASD and neurotypicals. Non-verbal ability can be a significant contributor to the lower-level/ local processing bias in ASD. We highlight the need for further investigation of pitch perception in ASD under challenging listening conditions. Future neurophysiological and brain imaging research studies with a longitudinal design are also needed to better understand the nature of the atypical processing in ASD to obtain new insights into the underlying neural mechanisms and to help guide auditory-based interventions for improving language and social functioning.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202201.0296.v1
Subject: Biology And Life Sciences, Immunology And Microbiology Keywords: microbiome; autism spectrum disorders; CRISPR-Cas; protospacer
Online: 20 January 2022 (10:28:07 CET)
Human gut microbiome is associated with various diseases, including autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Variations of the taxonomical composition in the gut microbiome of children with ASD have been observed repeatedly. However, features and parameters of the CRISPR-Cas systems in the gut microbiome of children with ASD have not been investigated yet. Here we demonstrate such an analysis in comparison with the healthy microbiome. For the identification of CRISPR-Cas systems, we used a combination of the publicly available tools suited for completed genomes with subsequent filtrations. In all considered datasets, the microbiomes of children with ASD contained fewer arrays per Gb of assembly, than the control group, but the arrays included more spacers on average. These patterns were observed systematically in our datasets, although their statistical significance hardly matched the thresholds. CRISPR arrays from the microbiomes of children with ASD differed from the control group neither in the fractions of spacers with protospacers from known genomes, nor in the sets of known bacteriophages providing protospacers. The majority of bacterial protospacers of the gut microbiome systems for both children with ASD and the healthy ones was located in the prophage islands.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202110.0232.v1
Subject: Medicine And Pharmacology, Psychiatry And Mental Health Keywords: twice exceptionality; autism spectrum disorder; neuroimaging; MRI
Online: 15 October 2021 (16:17:13 CEST)
There is a long-standing association between exceptional cognitive abilities, of various sorts, and neuropsychiatric illness, but it has historically largely been investigated in an exploratory and non-systematic way. One group in which this association has been investigated with more rigor is in subjects who have been identified as twice exceptional; an educational term describing subjects who are both gifted and diagnosed with a neuropsychiatric disability. This term covers multiple conditions, but is of specific interest in particular in the study of autism spectrum disorder. Recent findings have led to the development of a hypothesis that a certain degree of the neurobiology associated with autism might even be advantageous for individuals and could lead to high giftedness, while becoming disadvantageous, once a certain threshold is surpassed. In this model, the same neurobiological mechanisms confer an increasing advantage up to a certain threshold, but become pathological past that point. Twice-exceptional individuals would be exactly at the inflection point, being highly gifted, but also symptomatic at the same time. Here, we review how existing neuroimaging literature on autism spectrum disorder can inform research on twice exceptionality specifically. We propose to study key neural networks with a robust implication in ASD to identify the neurobiology underlying twice-exceptionality. A better understanding of the neural mechanisms of twice exceptionality should help to better understand resilience and vulnerability to neurodevelopmental disorders and tofurther support affected individuals.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202006.0271.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Behavior Sciences Keywords: ERPs; Autism Spectrum Quotient; face perception; emotion
Online: 21 June 2020 (14:04:53 CEST)
This study explored the electrocortical correlates of conscious and nonconscious perceptions of emotionally laden faces in neurotypical adult women with varying levels of autistic-like traits (Autism Spectrum Quotient - AQ). Event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded during the viewing of backward-masked images for happy, neutral, and sad faces presented either below (16 ms - subliminal) or above the level of visual conscious awareness (167 ms - supraliminal). Sad compared to happy faces elicited larger frontal-central N1, N2, and occipital P3 waves. We observed larger N1 amplitudes to sad faces than to happy and neutral faces in High-AQ (but not Low-AQ) scorers. Additionally, High-AQ scorers had a relatively larger P3 at the occipital region to sad faces. Regardless of the AQ score, subliminal perceived emotional faces elicited shorter N1, N2, and P3 latencies than supraliminal faces. Happy and sad faces had shorter N170 latency in the supraliminal than subliminal condition. High-AQ participants had a longer N1 latency over the occipital region than Low-AQ ones. In Low-AQ individuals (but not in High-AQ ones), emotional recognition with female faces produced a longer N170 latency than with male faces. N4 latency was shorter to female faces than male faces. These findings are discussed in view of their clinical implications and extension to autism.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints201812.0132.v1
Subject: Computer Science And Mathematics, Computer Science Keywords: children with autism, caregivers, personalised learning, intervention
Online: 11 December 2018 (13:55:39 CET)
The prevalence of autism in children in the world is estimated as one per 62 children, higher levels reported in some countries. These children experience significant problems with the development of social, behavioural and verbal and non-verbal communication skills. The skills impairment levels varies from an individual to another and that made teaching autistics a challenge for caregivers such as teachers and relatives. Hence, there are quite a number of frameworks of a software learning systems which focus on gaining the children’s attention using representational visual illustration as a learning method instead of the textual form. However, majority of these tools are lacking the personalisation ability to suite everyone in the spectrum. Assistive technology offers an alternative way to attract children with autism to use. Therefore, this research is proposing Autism Content Management Learning System (ACMLS) Framework to assist caregivers to produce, design and fine-tune or customise the learning materials appropriately so that the system interface and the materials are suitable for every individual in the spectrum according to each child personal profile aiming to make learning attractive and to contribute in improving their social, communication and behavioural skills and nonetheless, their attention level to the delivered educational topics. The ACMLS framework design adopts four main components which are: (1) Design component: which covers the visual design, design principles and the mental model of the children with autism. (2) Technology component: which covers the assistive technology tools and the architecture of the ACMLS system. (3) Education component: Which covers the learning objectives, styles, strategies, methods and the cognitive model. (4) Participants component: which covers the main participants who’re playing a role in the ACMLS framework such as: caregivers and children with autism.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints201810.0284.v1
Subject: Biology And Life Sciences, Neuroscience And Neurology Keywords: Autism; polychlorinated biphenyls; environmental chemicals; children; neurodevelopment
Online: 15 October 2018 (06:23:08 CEST)
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by impaired social communication and repetitive or stereotypic behaviours. In utero exposure to environmental chemicals, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), may play a role in the etiology of ASD. We examined the relation between plasma PCB concentrations measured during pregnancy and autistic behaviours in a subset of children aged 3–4 years old in the Maternal-Infant Research on Environmental Chemicals (MIREC) Study, a pregnancy and birth cohort of 546 mother-infant pairs from Canada (enrolled: 2008-2011). We quantified the concentrations of 6 PCB congeners that were detected in >40% of plasma samples collected during the 1st trimester. At age 3–4 years, caregivers completed the Social Responsiveness Scale-2 (SRS), a valid and reliable measure of children’s reciprocal social and repetitive behaviors and restricted interests. We examined SRS scores as both a continuous and binary outcome, and we calculated Bayesian predictive odds ratios for more autistic behaviours based on a latent variable model for SRS scores >60. We found no association between plasma PCB concentrations and autistic behavior, However, we found small and imprecise increases in the mean SRS score and odds of more autistic behaviour for the highest quartile of plasma PCB concentrations compared with the lowest quartile; for instance, an average increase of 1.1 [95%PCI: −0.5, 2.6] in the mean SRS (exposure contrast 4th versus 1st quartile) for PCB138 translated to an odds ratio of 1.6 [95%PCI: 1.0, 2.5]. Our findings illustrate the importance of measuring associations between PCBs and autistic behaviour on both continuous and binary scales.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202304.0793.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Cognitive Science Keywords: autism, humor, semantic joke, idiom, theory of mind
Online: 23 April 2023 (08:25:09 CEST)
Semantic jokes involve resolving an incongruity emerging from wordplay or from violation of world knowledge. Research has shown individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) demonstrate lower performance on humor tasks involving social situations, but less is known about their semantic joke comprehension. This study examined semantic joke comprehension among adolescents with ASD, and its possible relationship to vocabulary size, theory of mind (ToM), and idiom comprehension. Thirty-two adolescents with ASD and 32 typically developed (TD) peers participated. Semantic joke comprehension was assessed via multiple-choice questionnaire and time-limited computer program. Vocabulary, ToM abilities, and idiom comprehension were also tested. Results revealed that adolescents with ASD were as fast in processing semantic jokes as their age- and vocabulary-matched TD peers but less accurate. Age and idiom comprehension contributed significantly to semantic joke comprehension among both groups. As semantic joke comprehension is based on incongruity resolution, the greater difficulties in comprehension among the adolescents with ASD may be due to deficits in simultaneously retaining two alternative interpretations and selecting the relevant one. Like the TD group, semantic joke comprehension among the ASD group appeared more developed with age. Future neuroimaging studies should test semantic brain region involvement in semantic joke comprehension in ASD.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202104.0340.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Psychology Keywords: savouring; affect; anxiety; mothers; autism spectrum disorder; ASD
Online: 13 April 2021 (10:22:26 CEST)
Savouring is an emotion regulation strategy and intervention that focuses on the process of attending, intensifying and prolonging positive experiences and positive affect associated with these memories. Personal savouring involves a reflection on positive memories that are specific to the individual and do not involve others. In contrast, relational savouring entails reflecting on instances when people were responsive to the needs of their significant others. Such interventions hold potential to benefit parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Mothers of children with ASD tend to experience higher anxiety, lower positive affect (PA) and more negative affect (NA) compared to mothers of neurotypical children, leading to a diminished overall well-being. Moreover, ASD has multiplied by up to four times in the recent decade. Thus, this paper investigates whether savouring may enhance the overall well-being of mothers of young children with ASD by increasing positive affect and decreasing negative affect. 52 mothers of neurotypical children and 26 mothers of children with ASD aged 3-7 years old were given a series of questionnaires and randomly assigned to either relational savouring or personal savouring conditions. In relational savouring, mothers were asked to reflect upon a shared positive experience with their child while in the personal savouring condition, a personal positive experience was recalled. Across mothers of children with ASD and neurotypical children, findings suggest that savouring leads to a decrease in NA (p < .01) but not increases in PA. Similarly, mothers with higher levels of anxiety experience a greater decrease in NA (p < .001) compared to mothers with lower levels of anxiety post-savouring. This study proposes that a brief savouring intervention may be effective among mothers of preschoolers. As lower levels of negative affect is linked to healthier psychological well-being, mothers might be able to engage in more effective and warm parenting after savouring exercises, which would cultivate positive mother-child relationships that benefit their children in the long-term.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202103.0156.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Psychology Keywords: Mindfulness; Autism Spectrum Disorders; Parental Stress; Parent Anxiety
Online: 4 March 2021 (12:26:04 CET)
This study aims to develop a clinical trial to test the efficacy of a Mindfulness Based Stress Re-duction (MBSR) and Self Compassion (SC) Program on self-reported values of anxiety, depres-sion, and stress in parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in primary school, in order to assess their integration into the framework of community intervention programs in Spain. Methods: A brief 8-week training program using Mindfulness based intervention (MBSR) and self-compassion (SC) has been applied to ten parents from the Valencian ASD parents’. Partici-pants were assigned to two groups, both groups received the same treatment but at two different measurement moments. Depression, Anxiety, Stress, Satisfaction with Life and Mindful Atten-tion Awareness measurements were assessed, in all participants, in three testing moments. Results: Analysis of Variance results suggested that MBSR and SC training reduces stress and anxiety and increases Mindful Attention Awareness. No significant changes were found in Life Satisfaction measurements. Conclusions: The small number of participants prevents us from generalising the results found. More MBSR and SC clinical trials are needed in parents of ASD with results on anxiety, depression and stress in order to demonstrate the relevance of the inclusion of these programmes in community-based early intervention services.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202103.0067.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Psychology Keywords: Autism Spectrum Disorders; Diagnostic Tools; Sex; Differential Diagnostic.
Online: 2 March 2021 (10:05:57 CET)
Studies on the prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders show a gender disproportion. In the last years, there has been an increasing interest in the search for an explanation. There are two main lines of research; the first one looks for sex-related biological reasons that justifies the low prevalence of ASD in women (some protective factor related to hormones or immune system among others), and the second line of studies is related to the possible biases introduced in the diagnostic tools or procedures. In this article, a review of the latter line of research is made. Theoretical analysis following two objectives: a) Analysis of possible biases in diagnostic tools and b) Other non-biological explanations for gender differences in the prevalence of ASD. The literature analyzed provides contradictory results although it evidences the possible bias both in the construction of the diagnostic tools and in the assessment and determination of their standards. It is necessary to develop specific or complementary tools and diagnostic procedures differentiated by gender in order to control for this bias.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202011.0311.v1
Subject: Medicine And Pharmacology, Immunology And Allergy Keywords: autism genetics; family microarrays; pathway enrichment; network biology
Online: 10 November 2020 (12:33:35 CET)
The genetic heterogeneity of autism has stymied the search for causes and cures. Whole-genomic studies on large numbers of families have helped identify combinations of inherited and de novo signal. In the present work, we re-analyze DNA microarrays using a novel strategy that takes prior knowledge of genetic relationships into account and that was designed to boost signal important to our understanding of the molecular basis of autism. Our strategy was designed to identify significant genomic variation within a priori defined biological concepts and improves signal detection while lessening the severity of multiple test correction seen in standard analysis of genome-wide association data. Upon application of our approach using 3,244 biological concepts, we detected genomic variation in 68 biological concepts with significant association to autism in comparison to family-based controls. These concepts clustered naturally into a total of 19 classes, principally including cell adhesion, cancer, and immune response. The top-ranking concepts contained high percentages of genes already suspected to play roles in autism or in a related neurological disorder. In addition, many of the sets associated with autism at the DNA level also proved to be predictive of changes in gene expression within a separate population of autistic cases, suggesting that the signature of genomic variation may also be detectable in blood-based transcriptional profiles. This cross-validation with gene expression data from individuals with autism coupled with the enrichment within autism-related neurological disorders supported the possibility that the mutations play important roles in the onset of autism and should be given priority for further study. Our work provides new leads into the genetic underpinnings of autism and highlights the importance of reanalysis of genomic studies of complex disease using prior knowledge of genetic organization.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202305.0535.v1
Subject: Computer Science And Mathematics, Robotics Keywords: Human-Robot Interaction; Autism Spectrum Disorder; User-Centered Design
Online: 8 May 2023 (11:57:31 CEST)
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder have deficits in social interaction and expressing and understanding emotions. Many robots for children with ASD have been proposed. However, few studies were found about how to design a social robot for children with ASD. Studies reviewed employed non-experimental studies to evaluate a social robot, but the methodology to design a social robot is rare. This study proposes a design path for a social robot for emotional communi-cation for children with ASD, following User-Centered Design approach. This design path is ap-plied with a study case, evaluated with an expert group on psychologist, human-robot interaction, human-computer interaction, and parents of children with ASD. Results show than following the design path proposed to design a social robot to communication emotions for children ASD is favorable.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202304.0164.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Cognitive Science Keywords: Synesthesia; Auditory Tactile Synesthesia; Dopamine; Creativity; Savant; Autism; tDCs
Online: 10 April 2023 (10:11:22 CEST)
This review paper explores auditory tactile (AT) synesthesia, a rare neurological condition where sounds evoke tactile sensations. The paper provides a historical overview of the condition and discusses its epidemiology, with a prevalence of less than 1% of the general population. The neurological basis of AT synesthesia is explored, including the role of cross-modal processing and hyperconnectivity within the brain. The paper also describes the phenomenology of the condition, including the range of tactile sensations that can be experienced in response to different sounds. The occurrence of AT synesthesia in the present-day world is discussed, including its relationship to music and art. Various hypotheses surrounding the development and maintenance of AT synesthesia are reviewed, focusing on genetic and environmental factors. The implications for clinical practice are explored, including potential benefits for individuals with sensory processing disorders. Finally, the paper concludes with a discussion of future directions for research in this field, including the need to explore further the underlying neural mechanisms of AT synesthesia and potential therapeutic interventions.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202303.0401.v1
Subject: Computer Science And Mathematics, Applied Mathematics Keywords: Strawman fallacy; UK General Medical Council; autism; regression; MMR
Online: 22 March 2023 (14:39:30 CET)
Background: Articles published in scholarly journals form part of the scientific evidence base. It is the responsibility of the scientific community to maintain its integrity. In 2011 the BMJ commissioned a feature article to draw attention to an article that had appeared in another journal- The Lancet 13 years previously. The Lancet had already retracted the article. These actions exemplify the best traditions of scientific record-keeping. Objective: This submission examines whether the main claims summary made in the BMJ were factual. Method: We examine what was published in the Lancet against what was published in the BMJ and verify against the findings in the GMC hearings transcripts and verdict of the UK High Court. Results: The 6 points highlighted in BMJ had errors and need to be corrected. Conclusions: There are significant differences between what was reported in the Lancet paper and what was alleged to be there by the BMJ. This article aims only to point to errors in the BMJ article, to set the record straight. It does not show there was a causal association between MMR vaccination and autism.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202206.0280.v1
Subject: Biology And Life Sciences, Biochemistry And Molecular Biology Keywords: autism; ASD; epigenetics; DNA methylation; genetics; oxytocin; social experience
Online: 21 June 2022 (04:16:24 CEST)
The number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has increased substantially over the past two decades with current research unable to fully account for this dramatic increase in prevalence. One explanation proposes that both intrinsic (e.g., genetic) and extrinsic (e.g., environmental) risk factors may be involved in the etiology of ASD. The goal of this review paper is to explore modifiable pathways for intervention in children at risk for ASD, specifically examining how early social experience may be correlated with epigenetic change in genes associated with autism. We present an innovative model which proposes that polygenic risk and social experience (via epigenetic mechanisms) may both contribute to the observed ASD phenotype. Previous research on genetic, environmental, and epigenetic mechanisms implicated in the etiology of ASD will be reviewed, with an emphasis on the oxytocin receptor gene, which is epigenetically altered by early social experience, plays a crucial role in mammalian social and cognitive development, and is associated with both genetic and epigenetic risk for ASD. Identifying intrinsic (e.g., genetic) and extrinsic (e.g., social experience) risk markers for ASD, a combination of which has not previously been examined, would transform our understanding of this condition, facilitate earlier identification of ASD risk, and guide early intervention efforts. This may have a far-reaching impact on individuals with ASD, their families, and society.
HYPOTHESIS | doi:10.20944/preprints201912.0046.v1
Subject: Biology And Life Sciences, Virology Keywords: symbiosis; speciation; humans; polio; CD155; PVR; evolution; ASD; autism
Online: 4 December 2019 (11:09:42 CET)
No single evolutionary event has been identified as the cause for the final emergence of our species. I propose that a mutation on CD155 receptor gene occurred to establish a symbiosis with poliovirus, which exerted its beneficial impact via RNA dependent non-genetic transgenerational inheritance, which caused a qualitative enhancement of cognitive functions. I posit that this mutation occurred in what we call, Anatomically Modern Humans, our immediate ancestor species and that the disruption of this symbiosis causes autism spectrum disorder. Positive selection of CD155 to the extent of becoming a species defining characteristic, the chronology of autism spectrum disorder prevalence increase and continued increase, the multigenerational nature of RNA inheritance, the universal infection of humans by poliovirus and a very low associated mortality rate, and several other factors support this hypothesis. Specific genetic, epidemiological and sperm miRNA content studies are suggested to test this hypothesis.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints201906.0030.v1
Subject: Medicine And Pharmacology, Pediatrics, Perinatology And Child Health Keywords: autism; autistic spectrum disorder; children; behavior; ultrasonography; prenatal; pregnancy
Online: 4 June 2019 (12:56:37 CEST)
For the past several decades, abdominal prenatal ultrasonography has been the most significant technology in obstetrics with a long-established application. However, the frequency, exposure time, thermal and cavitation exposure indices, and increased acoustic output of the ultrasonic waves may be harmful to the embryo/fetus and might increase susceptibility to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The increase in the prevalence of ASD is associated with an affluent ethnicity, high socioeconomic status, and high parental education where prenatal ultrasonography is readily available and affordable. Enhanced biophysical adverse effects may link the analogous increase in prenatal ultrasonography and autism, and prenatal ultrasonography may emerge as a risk factor for autism. Radiography usage provides historical evidence for this fact: the predominant past opinion was that exposure to X-rays during pregnancy caused no significant risk to a fetus. However, the association between X-ray exposure and childhood leukemia was only established 40 years after X-ray use began. This review focuses on excessive PUS usage and ASD development. Public Abstract Advancements in medical technology over the past several decades have made prenatal ultrasound more frequently accessible to expecting mothers during their pregnancy, especially for the affluent. A parallel development in health care is the increase in autism diagnoses (Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD) in children of affluent families. There is a general lack of studies of the impact of prenatal ultrasound on fetuses, especially around varying attributes such as frequency, duration of exposure, and thermal and cavitation indices. There is also a historical precedent set, where exposing fetuses to X-rays was not found to be harmful until it was linked to the development of childhood leukemia decades later. This paper seeks to establish a need to further study these attributes of prenatal ultrasound overuse and their possible impact on a developing fetus, with a special focus on the occurrence of Autism.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints201712.0111.v1
Subject: Medicine And Pharmacology, Neuroscience And Neurology Keywords: autism spectrum disorder; melatonin; fetal development; neuroprotection; circadian rhythm
Online: 17 December 2017 (08:41:18 CET)
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to the diverse range of neurodevelopmental disorders accompanying impairments in social interaction, difficulties in communication, and stereotyped or repetitive behaviors. Unlike the older term, autism, the newer term, ASD, better reflects the broad range of autistic symptoms and denotes a single diagnostic category of autism accompanied by numerous conditions. The pineal hormone melatonin is a well-known neuroprotectant and circadian entrainer. This hormone crosses the placenta and enters the fetal circulation, then conveys photoperiodic information to the fetus during pregnancy. These actions enable normal sleep patterns and circadian rhythms, followed by normal neurodevelopment. Melatonin also reduces oxidative stress, which is harmful to the central nervous system. Therefore, melatonin acts as a neuroprotectant and circadian entrainer, and may reduce the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders such as ASD.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202305.0713.v1
Subject: Computer Science And Mathematics, Artificial Intelligence And Machine Learning Keywords: Autism Spectrum Disorder, Biomarker, Electrocardiograms, Machine Learning, Heart rate variability.
Online: 10 May 2023 (08:42:42 CEST)
In recent years, there has been a rise in the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The diagnosis of ASD requires behavioral observation and standardized testing completed by highly trained experts. Early intervention for ASD can begin as early as 1-2 years of age, but ASD diagnoses are not typically made until ages 2-5 years, thus delaying the start of intervention. There is an urgent need for non-invasive biomarkers to detect ASD in infancy. While previous research using physiological recordings has focused on brain-based biomarkers of ASD, this study investigated the potential of electrocardiogram (ECG) recordings as an ASD biomarker in 3-6-month-old infants. We recorded heart activity of infants at typical and elevated familial likelihood for ASD during naturalistic interactions with objects and caregivers. After obtaining the ECG signals, features such as heart rate variability (HRV) and sympathetic and parasympathetic activities were extracted from them. Then we evaluated the effectiveness of multiple machine learning classifiers for the classification of ASD likelihood. Our findings support our hypothesis that infant ECG signals contain a significant amount of information about ASD familial likelihood. Among the various machine learning algorithms tested, XGBoost performed best according to sensitivity (0.76±0.12), f1-score (0.75±0.12), precision (0.79±0. 12), classification accuracy (0.77±0.12, p-value = 0.01) and AUC (0.76±0.12, p-value = 0.02). These results suggest that ECG signals contains relevant information about the likelihood of an infant to develop ASD. Future studies should consider the potential of information contained in ECG, and other indices of autonomic control, for the development of biomarkers of ASD in infancy.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202304.0753.v1
Subject: Biology And Life Sciences, Toxicology Keywords: Lead Toxicity; Autism Spectrum Disorder; Microbiota; Gut-Brain Axis; Probiotics.
Online: 23 April 2023 (03:49:49 CEST)
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by persistent deficits in social interaction and social communication manifests in early childhood and is followed by significant impairment in social and occupational functions in adolescence and adulthood. Although genetics have been implicated, the exact causes of ASD have yet to be fully characterized. New evidence suggests that dysbiosis or perturbation in gut microbiota (GM) and exposure to lead (Pb) may play important roles in ASD etiology. Pb is a toxic heavy metal that has been linked to a wide range of negative health outcomes including anemia, encephalopathy, gastroenteric diseases and more importantly cognitive and behavioral problems inherent to ASD. Pb exposure can disrupt GM, which is essential for maintaining overall health. GM, consisting of trillions of microorganisms, has been shown to play a crucial role in the development of various physiological and psychological functions. GM interacts with the brain in a bidirectional manner referred to as “Gut-Brain Axis (GBA).” In this review, following a general overview of ASD and GM, the interaction of Pb with GM in the context of ASD is emphasized. Potential exploitation of this interaction for therapeutic purposes is also touched upon.
CASE REPORT | doi:10.20944/preprints202212.0561.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Psychology Keywords: Potocki–Lupski syndrome; 17p11.2; PTLS; autism; ASD; EEG; language; speech
Online: 29 December 2022 (13:00:18 CET)
Potocki-Lupski Syndrome (PTLS) is a rare condition associated with a duplication of 17p11.2 that may underlie a wide range of congenital abnormalities and heterogeneous behavioral phenotypes. Along with developmental delay and intellectual disability, autism-specific traits are often reported to be the most common among patients with PTLS. To contribute to the discussion of the role of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the PTLS phenotype, we present a case of a female adolescent with a de novo dup(17)(p11.2p11.2) without ASD features, focusing on in-depth clinical, behavioral, and electrophysiological (EEG) evaluations. Among EEG features, we found the atypical peak-slow wave patterns and a unique saw-like sharp wave of 13 Hz that was not previously described in any other patient. The power spectral density of the resting state EEG was typical in our patient with only the values of non-linear EEG dynamics: Hjorth complexity and Fractal dimension were drastically attenuated compared with the patient’s neurotypical peers. Here we also summarize results from previously published reports of PTLS that point to the about 21% occurrence of ASD in PTLS that might be biased, taking into account methodological limitations. More consistent among PTLS patients were intellectual disability and speech and language disorders.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202202.0056.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Psychology Keywords: virtual reality; autism spectrum disorder; education; intervention; childhood and adolescence
Online: 3 February 2022 (15:17:12 CET)
Virtual reality (VR) technology gains theoretical support from rehabilitation and pedagogical theories and offers a variety of capabilities in educational and interventional contexts with affordable products. VR is attracting increasing attention in the medical and healthcare industry as it provides fully interactive three-dimensional simulations of real-world settings and social situations, which are particularly suitable for cognitive and performance training including social and interaction skills. The worldwide rising trend in the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder calls for innovative and efficacious techniques for assessment and treatment. The article offers a summary of current perspectives and evidence-based applications of VR technology as an educational and intervention tool for individuals with autism spectrum disorder, with a primary focus on social communication including social functioning, emotion recognition, and speech and language. Technology- and design-related limitations as well as the disputes over the application of virtual reality to autism research and therapy are discussed and future directions of this emerging field are highlighted with regards to application expansion and improvement, technology enhancement, and the development of brain-based research and theoretical models.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202012.0388.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Psychology Keywords: language acquisition; Autism; eye-tracker; Pseudowords; pupil dilatation; gaze following
Online: 15 December 2020 (13:22:05 CET)
(1) Background: Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) show certain characteristics in visual attention which generate difficulties in the integration of relevant social information to set the basis of communication. Gaze following and pupil dilation could be used to identify signs for the early detection of ASD. Eye-tracking methodology allows objective measurement of these anomalies in visual attention. The aim is to determine whether measurements of gaze following and pupillary dilation in a linguistic interaction task, captured using eye-tracking methodology, are objective for early diagnosis of ASD. (2) Methods: 20 children between 17 and 24 months of age, made up of 10 neurotypical children and 10 children with ASD were paired together according to chronological age. A human face on a monitor pronounced pseudowords associated with pseudo-objects. Gaze following and pupil dilation was registered during the task. (3) Results: Significant statistical differences were found in the time of gaze fixation on the human face and on the object, as well as in the number of gazes. Also, there were significant differences in the maximum peak of pupil dilation, this being found in the neurotypical group at the moment of processing of the pseudoword, and in the ASD group in the baseline prior to the task (4) Conclusions: The registration and the duration of gaze, and the measurement of pupil dilation with ‘eye-tracker’ are objective measures for early detection of ASD.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202011.0468.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Psychology Keywords: Autism Spectrum Disorders; Early Intervention; Parent mediated intervention; Parental Training
Online: 18 November 2020 (11:04:07 CET)
The aim of this article is to analyze the evidence against the effectiveness of intervention programs based on the participation of parents of children with autism. To obtain the data, a systematic search was carried out in four databases (ProQuest-PsychArticles, ProQuest-ERIC, ProQuest-PubMed, and Scopus). These documents were refined under the inclusion/exclusion criteria and a total of 51 empirical studies were selected. They were classified, first, according to the function of the intervention objective and, later, by the methodology applied (19 studies based on comprehensive interventions, 11 focused on the nuclear symptoms of ASD, 12 focused on the promotion of positive parenting and 9 interactions focused on children play). Once all the documents have been analyzed, the evidence indicates scientific efficacy in most studies, mainly in those based on child development and the application of behavioral analysis principles. Also, the positive influence of parent participation in such programs was demonstrated.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints201903.0285.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Education Keywords: children with autism; education; learning tools; design; intervention; assistive technology
Online: 30 March 2019 (06:27:17 CET)
The prevalence of autism in children in the world is estimated as one per 62 children, higher levels reported in some countries. These children experience significant problems with the development of social, behavioural and verbal and non-verbal communication skills. The skills impairment levels varies from an individual to another and that made teaching autistics a challenge for caregivers such as teachers and relatives. Hence, there are quite a number of frameworks of a software learning systems which focus on gaining the children’s attention using representational visual illustration as a learning method instead of the textual form. However, majority of these tools are lacking the personalisation ability to suite everyone in the spectrum. Assistive technology offers an alternative way to attract children with autism. Therefore, this research is proposing an Adaptive Content Management Learning System (ACMLS) model to assist caregivers to produce, design and fine-tune or customise the learning materials appropriately so that the system interface and the materials are suitable for every individual in the spectrum according to each child personal profile aiming to make learning attractive and to contribute in improving their social, communication and behavioural skills and nonetheless, their attention level to the delivered educational topics. The ACMLS model design adopts four main components which are: (1) Design component: which covers the visual design, design principles and the mental model of the children with autism. (2) Technology component: which covers the assistive technology tools and the architecture of the ACMLS system. (3) Education component: Which covers the learning objectives, styles, strategies, methods and the cognitive model. (4) Participants component: which covers the main participants who’re playing a role in the ACMLS model such as: caregivers and children with autism.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints201812.0318.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Behavior Sciences Keywords: Subjective sleep assessment; Autism spectrum disorder; REM sleep; NREM sleep
Online: 27 December 2018 (10:21:06 CET)
Sleep disturbances very common in children with autism. That is why it requires instruments that facilitate its evaluation. Goals: Perform the evaluation of sleep from a subjective prospect in a group of children with primary autism and compare to a control group, using the Sleep Habits in Children Survey (CSHQ), In order to determine sleep disturbances, according to the sub-scales results. Method: A prospective cross-sectional study of the sample was carried out. A group with primary Autism n = 21 was selected. For the assessment of the dream we chose (CSHQ). The differences between independent groups were calculated by applying a Mann Whitney U test (p <0.05). Results: The group of children with autism showed the highest values of the total scale (mean = 48.00) wish is congruent with a greate disfuntion of sleep, compared to the control group (mean = 36.47) for p = 0.00. Significant differences were found for all sub scales p = 0.00, with the exception of sub-scale number 7. Conclusions: There is a high presence of sleep disturbances in children with primary autism, which are related to multifactorial causes, with the exception of sleep breathing disorders that did not show statistically significant differences between groups.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints201805.0359.v1
Subject: Medicine And Pharmacology, Pathology And Pathobiology Keywords: autism spectrum disorder; endocrine; estrogen; immune activation; melanin concentrating hormone
Online: 25 May 2018 (10:37:23 CEST)
The voluminous daily output of autism research has become increasingly disconnected, existing largely within highly specific subspecialty areas, and lacking cross-disciplinary linkages of context, theory, and findings to inform a unified body of knowledge. Robust syntheses of published research across the fields of psychiatry, cellular and molecular biology, neurology, endocrinology, immunology, behavioral and social sciences, and pedagogy may help clarify and extend current knowledge by guiding more efficient future research efforts investigating underlying causes, developmental divergences, novel treatments, and specific, sensitive biological markers in autism. This synthesis of interdisciplinary research indicates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) stress axis may be at the center of an interaction among sex steroids, immune function, signaling protein transcriptions, neurogenesis, and dysregulation of brain structures sending or receiving projections from the HPA stress axis. These interaction manifest observably as a range of sexually dimorphic behaviors and functional limitations often falling within the current diagnostic features of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The pathogenicity of endocrine dysregulation may serve as a valuable model for developing a cohesive theory of ASD by explaining how the HPA and connected brain areas respond to extreme conditions of dysregulated endocrine signaling to cause symptoms associated with autism.
CONCEPT PAPER | doi:10.20944/preprints201803.0238.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Education Keywords: applied behaviour analysis; autism; policy; randomised controlled trials; fake news
Online: 28 March 2018 (12:40:58 CEST)
Since autism was first recognised, prevalence has increased rapidly. The growing economic as well as social cost to society can only be mitigated by effective interventions and supports. It is therefore not surprising that most governments have developed public policy documents to address the management of autism. Over the past 40-50 years, meaningful evidence has accrued showing that interventions based on the scientific discipline of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) can help people with autism reach their potential. In view of this, nearly all of North America has laws to mandate that ABA-based interventions are available through the health care systems. In contrast, across Europe there are no such laws. In fact, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the body guiding health and social policy in the UK, concluded that it could not find any evidence to support ABA, and therefore could not recommend it. This paper addresses the reasons for these diametrically opposed perspectives. In particular, it examines what happens when health and social care policy is misinformed about effective autism intervention.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints201703.0095.v1
Subject: Medicine And Pharmacology, Neuroscience And Neurology Keywords: autism spectrum disorders; fragile X syndrome (FXS); sleep disorder; melatonin
Online: 15 March 2017 (07:40:49 CET)
Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is the most frequent monogenic form of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Autistic FXS is caused by loss of the fmr1 gene product, the fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP), triggering physiological and behavioral abnormalities. It is correlated with clock components for behavioral circadian rhythm. Mutation of this gene causes the disturbances in sleep patterns and circadian behavior commonly observed in patients with autistic FXS, accompanied by frequent dysregulation of melatonin synthesis and melatonin-dependent signaling. These changes impair vigilance, learning and memory, and are also linked to autistic behavior including the abnormal anxiety response. However, although several possible causes, symptoms, and clinical features of ASD have been investigated, the correlation between an altered circadian rhythm and autistic FXS has not been extensively studied. Recent works have highlighted the impact of melatonin on the nervous, immune, and metabolic systems. Even though utilization of melatonin for sleep disorder in ASD has been considered in clinical research, further studies should be aimed at its neuroprotective role in ASD during developmental period. In this review, we focus on the regulatory circuits involved in melatonin dysregulation and circadian system disruption in those with autistic FXS. Additionally, we discuss the neuroprotective effect of melatonin intervention. This may improve neuroplasticity and physical capability. We also review the underlying molecular mechanisms, and suggest that melatonin may be a useful novel treatment for autistic FXS, countering the adverse effects of circadian variation.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202304.0692.v1
Subject: Computer Science And Mathematics, Artificial Intelligence And Machine Learning Keywords: Emotion Recognition; smart bracelet; heart rate; wearable; Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Online: 21 April 2023 (08:38:45 CEST)
This paper presents a framework to recognize the affective state of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in an in-the-wild setting using Heart Rate (HR) information. Our algorithm classifies a child’s emotion into positive, negative, or neutral states by analyzing the heart rate signal. The HR signal is obtained from a smartwatch in real-time using our smartwatch application. The heart rate data is acquired when the child learns to code a robot while interacting with an avatar that assists the child in communications skills and programming the robot. In this paper, we also present a comparison of using HR data for the classification of emotions with classification based on features extracted from HR signals using Discrete Wavelet Transform (DWT). Our experimental results show that the proposed method produces a comparable performance with the state-of-the-art HR-based emotion recognition techniques, despite the fact that our experiments are performed in an uncontrolled setting as opposed to a lab environment. This work contributes to real-world affect analysis of children with ASD using HR information.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202108.0079.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Psychology Keywords: autism; sleep; fetal alcohol spectrum disorders; nightmares; anxiety; executive function; behaviour
Online: 3 August 2021 (13:07:06 CEST)
Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) experience significantly higher rates of sleep disturbances than their typically developing peers. Pre-sleep anxiety and waking emotional content is known to affect the content and frequency of nightmares, which can be distressing to children and caregivers. This is the first study to analyse nightmare frequency and content in FASD, and to assess its association with psychometric outcomes. We assessed reports from 277 caregivers of children with ASD (n=61), FASD (n=112), and TD children (n=104) using the Children’s Sleep Habits Questionnaire (CSHQ), the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), the Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale (SCAS) and the Behavior Rating Inventory for Executive Functioning (BRIEF). Within the ASD group, 40.3% of caregivers reported their children had nightmares. Within the FASD group, 73.62% of caregivers reported their children had nightmares and within the TD group, 21.36% of caregivers reported their children had nightmares. Correlation analysis revealed significant associations between anxiety and nightmares, maladaptive behaviour and nightmares, and executive functioning and nightmares in the TD and FASD groups, but not ASD group. This paper adds to the emerging body of work supporting the need for sleep interventions as part of clinical practice with regard to children with ASD and FASD. As a relatively niche but important area of study this warrants much needed further research.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202010.0272.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Psychology Keywords: Gender Differences; Tic disorder; Selective Mutism; Trichotillomania; Autism Spectrum Disorder; Aggression
Online: 13 October 2020 (10:45:13 CEST)
Gender differences have been documented in the prevalence of psychological symptoms. Tic disorders and ASD are more common in male clinical samples, while selective mutism and trichotillomania are more common in female clinical samples. In a review of 84 published case studies of Japanese children, this study explores gender differences in the prevalence of four categories of symptoms and expressions made in therapy for tics, selective mutism, trichotillomania, and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Case studies were evaluated using both qualitative coding and statistical analysis. The findings were mostly consistent with epidemiological surveys and empirical research on adults. The gender differences in symptom prevalence and their expression can be summarized as differences in more direct aggression for boys versus indirect aggression for girls. The objective and progress in the therapy are to control impulsive energy for boys and to express energy for girls.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints201811.0171.v1
Subject: Medicine And Pharmacology, Endocrinology And Metabolism Keywords: Autism, ASD, microbiota, gut-brain-axis, microbiota-gut-brain-axis, therapy
Online: 7 November 2018 (14:45:10 CET)
New research points to a possible link between Autism Spectrum Disorder and the gut microbiota as many autistic children have co-occurring gastrointestinal problems. This review focuses on specific alterations of gut microbiota mostly observed in autistic patients. Particularly, the mechanisms through which such alterations may trigger the production of the bacterial metabolites or leaky gut in autistic people are described. Various altered metabolite levels were observed in autistic children, many of those were of bacterial origin such as short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), indoles and lipopolysaccharides. A less integrative gut-blood-barrier is abundant in autistic individuals. This explains the leakage of bacterial metabolites into the patients triggering new body responses or altered metabolism. Some other co-occurring symptoms such as mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress in the cells, altered tight junctions in the blood brain barrier and structural changes in cortex, hippocampus, amygdala and cerebellum were detected. Moreover, this paper suggests that autism is associated with an unbalanced gut microbiota (dysbiosis). Although the cause-effect relationship between autism and gut microbiota is not yet well established, consumption of specific probiotics may represent a powerful tool to re-establish gut homeostasis and promote gut health. Diagnostic and therapeutic value of new biomarkers leading to the perturbation in the phenylalanine metabolism will be discussed.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202002.0238.v1
Subject: Biology And Life Sciences, Biochemistry And Molecular Biology Keywords: oxytocin; cellular morphology; neurite outgrowth; neurite retraction; autism; MEF2A; CRISPR-Cas; hyperconnectivity
Online: 17 February 2020 (03:44:01 CET)
The neuropeptide oxytocin (OT) is a well-described modulator of socio-emotional traits, such as anxiety, stress, social behavior, and pair-bonding, however, when dysregulated, it is associated with adverse psychiatric traits, like various aspects of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In this study, we identify the transcription factor MEF2A as the common link between OT and cellular changes symptomatic for ASD, encompassing neuronal morphology, connectivity, and mitochondrial function. We provide evidence for MEF2A as the decisive factor defining the cellular response to OT: while OT induces neurite retraction in MEF2A expressing neurons, OT causes neurite outgrowth in absence of MEF2A. A CRISPR-Cas-mediated knockout of MEF2A and retransfection of an active version or permanently inactive mutant, respectively, validated our findings. We also identified the phosphatase calcineurin as the main upstream regulator of OT-induced MEF2A signaling. Further, MEF2A signaling dampens mitochondrial functioning in neurons, as MEF2A knockout cells show increased maximal cellular respiration, spare-respiratory capacity, and total cellular ATP. In summary, we reveal a central role for OT-induced MEF2A as major regulator of cellular morphology as well as neuronal connectivity and mitochondrial functioning, with broad implications for a potential treatment of disorders based on morphological alterations or mitochondrial dysfunction.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202305.0038.v1
Subject: Public Health And Healthcare, Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy And Rehabilitation Keywords: Equine-assisted activities; Autism spectrum disorder; Ethogram; Social interactions; Communicative behaviours; Problem behaviours
Online: 2 May 2023 (01:44:24 CEST)
Equine Assisted Activities (EAA) are considered a suitable innovative rehabilitative practice for children with neurodevelopmental disorders, including Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). While standardized scales have been previously used as a tool to evaluate the effects of EAA on different domains of functioning in ASD children, few studies have considered an ethological approach as a means to describe human-horse interactions in the context of ASD. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the behaviour of 19 children with ASD - in comparison with 19 typically developing children (TD) - during EAA sessions. We developed an ethogram from the video-recordings, to assess spatial relationships, social interactions and communicative behaviours displayed by the child towards the horse, as well as the occurrence of problem behaviours. Results indicate that children’s behaviours during EAA sessions are modulated by sex and age, while previous children’s experience with EAA appeared to improve interpersonal distance and horse handling. Results from this study highlight the importance of exploring children's behavioural response during animal-assisted activities through direct measurements. This may allow linking the quality/strength of the child-horse relationship to the benefits obtained by the child, particularly in the social/communicative domain, a core symptom of ASD.
CONCEPT PAPER | doi:10.20944/preprints202205.0281.v2
Subject: Medicine And Pharmacology, Neuroscience And Neurology Keywords: autism; autistic burnout; social camouflaging; early life stress; suicidality; psychopathology; mitochondrial allostatic load
Online: 5 September 2022 (03:35:24 CEST)
Molecular autism research is evolving towards a biopsychosocial framework that is more informed by autistic experiences. In this context, research aims are moving away from correcting external autistic behaviors and towards alleviating internal distress. Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASCs) are associated with high rates of depression, suicidality and other comorbid psychopathologies, but this relationship is poorly understood. Here, we integrate emerging characterizations of internal autistic experiences within a molecular framework to yield insight into the prevalence of psychopathology in ASC. We demonstrate that descriptions of social camouflaging and autistic burnout resonate closely with the accepted definitions for early life stress (ELS) and chronic adolescent stress (CAS). We propose that social camouflaging could be considered a distinct form of CAS that contributes to allostatic overload, culminating in a pathophysiological state that is experienced as autistic burnout. Autistic burnout is thought to contribute to psychopathology via psychological and physiological mechanisms, but these remain largely unexplored by molecular researchers. Building on converging fields in molecular neuroscience, we discuss the substantial evidence implicating mitochondrial dysfunction in ASC to propose a novel role for mitochondrial allostatic load in the relationship between autism and psychopathology. An interplay between mitochondrial, neuroimmune and neuroendocrine signaling is increasingly implicated in stress-related psychopathologies, and these molecular players are also associated with neurodevelopmental, neurophysiological and neurochemical aspects of ASC etiology. Together, this suggests an increased exposure and underlying molecular susceptibility to ELS that increases the risk of psychopathology in ASC. This article describes an integrative framework shaped by autistic experiences that highlights novel avenues for molecular research into mechanisms that directly affect the quality of life and well-being of autistic individuals. Moreover, this framework emphasizes the need for increased access to diagnoses, accommodations, and resources to improve mental health outcomes in autism.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202106.0637.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Psychology Keywords: language; autism; development; perception; veridical mapping; autistic interests; deep phenotypes; clusters/subtypes; neurodevelopment
Online: 28 June 2021 (10:33:38 CEST)
What does the way autistics bypass, learn, and eventually master language tell us about humans’ genetically encoded linguistic ability? In this theoretical review, we argue that autistic non-social acquisition of language, as well as autistic savant abilities, provide a strong argument for an innate, human-specific orientation toward (and mastery of) complex embedded structures. Autistic non-social language learning may represent a widening of the material processed during development beyond oral language. Structure detection and manipulation and generative production of non-linguistic embedded and chained material (savant abilities in calendar calculation, musical composition and interpretation, three-dimensional drawing) may thus represent an application of such innate mechanisms to non-standard materials. Typical language learning through exposure to the child’s mother tongue may represent but one of many possible achievements of the same capacity. The deviation from typical language development in autism may ultimately allow access to oral language, sometimes in its most elaborate forms, but also explains the possibility of the absence of its development when applied exclusively to non-linguistic structured material. Such an extension of human capacities beyond, or in parallel to, their usual limits call into question what we consider to be specific or expected in humans and, therefore, does not necessarily represent a genetic “error”. Regardless of the adaptive success or failure of non-social language learning, it is up to science and ethical principles to strive to maintain autism as a human potentiality to further foster our vision of a plural society.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202104.0472.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Psychology Keywords: language; autism; development; perception; veridical mapping; autistic interests; deep phenotypes; clusters/subtypes; neurodevelopment
Online: 19 April 2021 (12:12:20 CEST)
What does the way autistics bypass, learn, and eventually master language tell us about human linguistic ability? Here, we argue that non-social acquisition of language, in addition to representing a strong argument for nativist models of human language, may be encompassed within the human-specific orientation and mastery of complex embedded structures, of which language represents one realization. Non-social language learning could thus represent the extension of available linguistic, and non-linguistic material processed by human genetic constraints, allowing language acquisition. This deviation from typical developmental language acquisition may ultimately allow access to language, sometimes in its most elaborate forms, and also explains the possibility of the absence of its development when applied to primarily non-linguistic structured material. However, such enlargement of material-specificity does not cast doubts about its human nature. Regardless of the adaptive success or failure of non-social language learning, it is up to science, legal policies, and ethical principles to strive to maintain autism as a human potentiality to further foster our vision of a plural society.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202010.0388.v1
Subject: Engineering, Automotive Engineering Keywords: Autism Spectrum Disorder; activity analysis; automated detection; repetitive behavior; abnormal gait; visual saliency
Online: 19 October 2020 (14:49:24 CEST)
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neuro-developmental disorder that limits social interactions, cognitive skills, and abilities. Since ASD can last during an affected person's entire life cycle, the diagnosis at the early onset can yield a significant positive impact. The current medical diagnostic systems (e.g., DSM-5/ICD-10) are somewhat subjective; rely purely on the behavioral observation of symptoms, and hence, some individuals often go misdiagnosed or late-diagnosed. Therefore, researchers have focused on developing data-driven automated diagnosis systems with less screening time, low cost, and improved accuracy while significantly reducing professional intervention. Human Activity Analysis (HAA) is considered one of the most promising niches in computer vision research. This paper aims to analyze its potentialities in the automated detection of autism by tracking the exclusive characteristics of autistic individuals such as repetitive behavior, atypical walking style, and unusual visual saliency. This review provides a detailed inspection of HAA-based autism detection literature published in 2011 on-wards depicting core approaches, challenges, probable solutions, available resources, and scopes of future exploration in this arena. According to our study, deep learning outperforms machine learning in ASD detection with a classification accuracy of 76\% to 95\% on different datasets comprise of video, image, or skeleton data that recorded participants performing a large number of actions. However, machine learning provides satisfactory results on datasets with a small number of action classes and has a range of 60\% to 93\% accuracy among numerous studies. We hope this extensive review will provide a comprehensive guideline for researchers in this field.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202007.0373.v1
Subject: Medicine And Pharmacology, Psychiatry And Mental Health Keywords: autism spectrum disorder; cannabinoids; cannabidiol; cannabidivarin; THC; problem behaviors; sleep; epilepsy; side effects.
Online: 17 July 2020 (09:19:13 CEST)
The etiopathogenesis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) remains largely unclear. Among other biological hypotheses, researchers have evidenced an imbalance in the endocannabinoid (eCB) system, which regulates some functions typically impaired in ASD, such as emotional responses and social interaction. Also, cannabidiol (CBD), the non-intoxicating component of Cannabis sativa, has been recently approved for treatment-resistant epilepsy. Seizures represent frequent medical comorbidities of ASD and could be responsible for the onset or worsening of behavioral problems. Thus, it has been hypothesized that cannabinoids could be useful in improving some ASD symptoms. Our systematic review was conducted according to the PRISMA guidelines and aimed to summarize the literature regarding the use of cannabinoids in ASD. After searching in Web of KnowledgeTM, PsycINFO, and Embase, we included ten studies (eight papers and two abstracts). Four ongoing trials were retrieved in ClinicalTrials.gov. Findings are promising, as cannabinoids appeared to improve problem behaviors, sleep, hyperactivity, and communication deficits, with limited cardiac and metabolic side effects. Interestingly, they generally allowed to reduce the number of prescribed medications and decreased the frequency of seizures in epileptic patients. Mechanisms of action could be linked to the excitatory/inhibitory imbalance found in people with ASD. However, further trials need to be implemented with better characterization and homogenization of samples, and well-defined outcomes.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints201910.0120.v1
Subject: Biology And Life Sciences, Cell And Developmental Biology Keywords: reelin; lis2; adlte; autism; schizophrenia; translational models; gabaergic interneurons; dendritic spines; forebrain; cerebellum
Online: 10 October 2019 (15:31:12 CEST)
The Reeler mutation was described in mouse more than fifty year ago. Later, its causative gene (reln) was discovered in mouse, and its human orthologue (RELN) was demonstrated to be causative of lissencephaly 2 (LIS2) and about 20% of the cases of autosomal-dominant lateral temporal epilepsy (ADLTE). In both human and mice the gene encodes for a glycoprotein referred to as Reelin (Reln) that plays a primary role in neuronal migration during development and synaptic stabilization in adulthood. Besides LIS2 and ADLTE, RELN and/or other genes coding for the proteins of the Reln intracellular cascade have been associated more or less substantially to other conditions such as spinocerebellar ataxia type 7 and 37, VLDLR-associated cerebellar hypoplasia, PAFAH1B1-associated lissencephaly, autism and schizophrenia. According to their modalities of inheritances and with substantial differences among each other, these neuropsychiatric disorders can be modeled in the homozygous (reln-/-) or heterozygous (reln+/-) mouse. The usefulness of these mice as translational models is discussed, with focus on their construct and face validity. The latter is mainly treated directing the attention to the histological, neurochemical and functional observations in the cerebral cortex, hippocampus and cerebellum of Reeler mice and their human counterparts.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints201903.0009.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Behavior Sciences Keywords: Bullying; autism spectrum disorder; attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; oppositional defiant disorder; social impairment.
Online: 1 March 2019 (12:24:17 CET)
The aim of this study was to examine the prevalence of self-reported and parent-reported bullying victimization, perpetration, and victimization-perpetration and the associations of autistic social impairment and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) symptoms with bullying involvement in adolescents with high functioning autism spectrum disorder (ASD). A total of 219 adolescents with high functioning ASD participated in this study. The associations of sociodemographic characteristics, parent-reported autistic social impairment on the Chinese Social Responsiveness Scale, and parent-reported ADHD and ODD symptoms on the Short form of the Swanson, Nolan, and Pelham Version IV Scale (SNAP-IV)-Chinese version with self-reported and parent-reported bullying victimization, perpetration, and victimization-perpetration evaluated using the Chinese version of the School Bullying Experience Questionnaire were examined using logistic regression analysis. The agreement between self-reported and parent-reported bullying involvement was low. Compared with bullying involvement experiences reported by adolescents themselves, parents reported higher rates of pure bullying victimization (23.7% vs. 17.8%) and victimization-perpetration (28.8% vs. 9.1%) but a lower rate of pure bullying perpetration (5.9% vs. 9.1%). Deficit in socio-communication increases the risk of being pure victims and victim-perpetrators. Parent-reported victim-perpetrators had more severe ODD symptoms than did parent-reported pure victims. The agreement between self-reported and parent-reported bullying involvement of adolescents with high functioning ASD was low. Deficit in socio-communication and ODD symptoms were significantly associated with a high risk of bullying involvement in adolescents with high functioning ASD.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202305.2136.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Behavior Sciences Keywords: Animal Assisted Interventions; HRV; Cortisol; Stress; Dog Assisted Therapy; Down Syndrome; Autism Spectrum Disorder
Online: 30 May 2023 (12:20:55 CEST)
Dog Assisted Therapy is hypothesized to lower stress in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and children with Down Syndrome (DS), which may be visible on a physiological level. In this study, we measured Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and salivary cortisol of 20 children with DS or ASD at the beginning and end of 6 weekly sessions of Dog-Assisted Therapy. We found a decrease of cortisol levels during single sessions, but no overall effect after 6 sessions (6 weeks). The effect of Dog Assisted Therapy on the increase of HRV could not be confirmed. This study is one of the first to use physiological measurements to test the effects of DAT.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints201805.0375.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Behavior Sciences Keywords: autism phenome; gut microbiome; behaviour reversal; meta-analysis; 16srRNA sequencing; operational taxonomic units (OTUs)
Online: 25 May 2018 (16:15:27 CEST)
Background: Gut-Brain-Axis provides bidirectional communicational route; imbalance of which can have pathophysiological consequences. It is a frontier in autism research, affects 85% of autistic children (NIH report). Their microbiome has few overall microbes and smaller number of health promising microbes than their neurotypical peers. We hypothesize autism gut might play a role in manifestation of autism behaviours and on treatment, can revert back to normal behaviour considerably. The aim is to better understand to what degree gut microbiota of autism subjects differs from controls and identify bacterial species present exclusively in autism. Materials and Methods: 16s-rRNA-sequence of autism-subjects were retrieved from the American Gut Project Archive. Taxonomic assignment was inferred by similarity based methods using Quantitative Insights Into Microbial Ecology (QIIME). Species abundance was characterized and co-occurrence network was built to infer species interaction using measures of diversity. Statistical parameters were considered to validate the findings. Result: A total of 206 (1.8%) of American Gut Project datasets onstituted of autistic samples. Various bacteria such as Akkermansia sp., and Prevotella sp., were harboured in higher abundance in autistic children with statistical significance than in controls. Conclusion: These findings indicate connecting-link between gut-microbiome-brain-axis and autistic behaviour which can result in improved management
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202209.0154.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Psychology Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder; Low and Middle-Income Countries; Cross-Cultural; healthcare utilization; treatment barriers; child
Online: 13 September 2022 (03:18:00 CEST)
Delayed diagnosis and a lack of adequate care for people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are related to worse outcomes and quality of life. This study aimed to identify the profile of service use, barriers to access care, and factors related to those barriers in Brazilian families with children with ASD. A total of 927 families with ASD children (3-17 years) from five Brazilian regions completed an online version of the Caregivers Needs Survey. Results showed that the most used services were behavioral interventions and pharmacotherapy, while the most used professionals were neurologists, nutritionists, speech therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, and pediatricians. The main barriers included waiting lists, costs, and the absence of services or treatment. Service use varied according to age, the region of residence, the type of health care system used, and the parents/caregivers' education. Access to behavioral interventions was more frequent among users of the private system/health insurance and families whose caregivers had higher education. The absence of specialized services/treatments was less frequent among residents of state capitals and families whose caregivers had higher levels of education. This study highlights how families with children/adolescents with ASD in Brazil face significant barriers to access care related to sociodemographic factors.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202305.0245.v1
Subject: Biology And Life Sciences, Neuroscience And Neurology Keywords: autism spectrum disorder; chick; valproic acid; nicotinic acetylcholine receptors; biological motion; face; animacy; thyroid hormone; bumetanide
Online: 4 May 2023 (09:07:03 CEST)
Equipped with an early social predisposition immediately post-birth, humans typically form associations with mothers and other family members through exposure learning, canalized by a spontaneous predisposition to biological motion, face configuration, and other cues of animacy. If impaired, reduced social preferences can lead to social interaction impairments such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) via misguided canalization. Despite being taxonomically distant, domestic chicks also follow a homologous developmental trajectory toward adaptive socialization through imprinting, which is guided via predisposed preferences that are homologous to those of humans, thereby suggesting that chicks are valid animal models of ASD. In addition to the convergent similarities in predisposition with human newborns, accumulating evidence suggests the construct validity of the chick model. Considering the recent progress in the evolutionary neurobiology of vertebrates, we reviewed the advantages and limitations of the chick model of developmental mental diseases in humans.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202303.0517.v1
Subject: Biology And Life Sciences, Behavioral Sciences Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder; Auditory stream segregation; Hearing assistive technology; Speech-in-noise perception; Tonal language speakers
Online: 30 March 2023 (02:52:15 CEST)
Purpose: Hearing assistive technology (HAT) has been shown to be a viable solution to the speech-in-noise perception (SPIN) issue in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD); however, little is known about its efficacy in tonal language speakers. This study compared sentence-level SPIN performance between Chinese children with ASD and neurotypical (NT) children and evaluated HAT use in improving SPIN performance and easing SPIN difficulty. Methods: Children with ASD (n=26) and NT children (n=19) aged 6-12 performed two adaptive tests in steady-state noise and three fixed-level tests in quiet and steady-state noise with and without using HAT. Speech recognition thresholds (SRT) and accuracy rates were assessed using adaptive and fixed-level tests, respectively. Parents or teachers of the ASD group completed a questionnaire regarding children’s listening difficulty under six circumstances before and after a ten-day trial period of HAT use. Results: Although the two groups of children had comparable SRTs, the ASD group showed a significantly lower SPIN accuracy rate than the NT group. Also, a significant impact of noise was found in the ASD group’s accuracy rate, but not in the NT group’s. There was a general improvement in the ASD group’s SPIN performance with HAT and a decrease in their listening difficulty ratings across all conditions after the device trial. Conclusion: The findings indicated inadequate SPIN in the ASD group using a relatively sensitive measure to gauge SPIN performance among children. The markedly increased accuracy rate in noise during HAT-on sessions for the ASD group confirmed the feasibility of HAT for improving SPIN performance in controlled laboratory settings, and the reduced post-use ratings of listening difficulty further confirmed the benefits of HAT use in daily scenarios.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202301.0492.v1
Subject: Social Sciences, Psychology Keywords: Virtual Reality; Training; Autism; Social Skills; Social Cognition; Executive Functions; Accepta-bility; Usability; User Experience; Prompts
Online: 27 January 2023 (06:34:43 CET)
Poor social skills in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are associated with reduced independence in daily life. Current interventions for improving the social skills of individuals with ASD fail to represent the complexity of real-life social settings and situations. Virtual reality (VR) may facilitate social skills training in social environments and situations proximal to real life, however, more research is needed for elucidating aspects such as the acceptability, usability, and user experience of VR systems in ASD. Twenty-five participants with ASD attended a neuropsychological evaluation and three sessions of VR social skills training, incorporating 5 social scenarios with three difficulty levels for each. Participants reported high acceptability, system usability, and user experience. Significant correlations were observed between performance in social scenarios, self-reports, and executive functions. Working memory and planning ability were significant predictors of functionality level in ASD and the VR system’s perceived usability respectively. Yet, performance in social scenarios was the best predictor of usability, acceptability, and functionality level in ASD. Planning ability substantially predicted performance in social scenarios, postulating an implication in social skills. Immersive VR social skills training appears effective in individuals with ASD, yet an error-less approach, which is adaptive to the individual’s needs, should be preferred.
BRIEF REPORT | doi:10.20944/preprints202007.0636.v1
Subject: Medicine And Pharmacology, Psychiatry And Mental Health Keywords: Autism Spectrum Disorder; Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; Behavioural Neuroscience; Mental Health; COVID-19; Pandemic; Paediatric Neurology
Online: 26 July 2020 (15:31:51 CEST)
Children and young people (CYP) with neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) may be particularly vulnerable to adverse mental health effects due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We conducted a cross-sectional U.K parent-reported study from 2nd April-2nd June 2020, using the Strengths & Difficulties Questionnaire. CYP with NDDs (n=371) compared to neurotypical controls, had a higher prevalence of emotional symptoms (42% vs 15%), conduct problems (28% vs 9%), and lower prosocial behaviours (54% vs 22%). Those with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder showed inflated conduct, and those with autism spectrum disorder exhibited decreased prosocial behaviours. Females with ASD had higher emotional symptoms compared to males.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202007.0334.v1
Subject: Biology And Life Sciences, Biochemistry And Molecular Biology Keywords: alpha-synuclein; SNCA; PARK2; 22q11.2 deletion syndrome; autism spectrum disorders; neuronal development; Parkinson’s disease; neurodegeneration; synaptic dysfunction
Online: 15 July 2020 (11:36:30 CEST)
Neurodevelopmental and late-onset neurodegenerative disorders present as separate entities that are clinically and neuropathologically quite distinct. However, recent evidence has highlighted surprising commonalities and converging features at the clinical, genomic, and molecular level between these two disease spectra. This is particularly striking in the context of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD). Genetic causes and risk factors play a central role in disease pathophysiology and enable the identification of overlapping mechanisms and pathways. Here, we focus on clinico-genetic studies of causal variants and overlapping clinical and cellular features of ASD and PD. Several genes and genomic regions were selected for our review, including SNCA (alpha-synuclein), PARK2 (parkin RBR E3 ubiquitin protein ligase), chromosome 22q11 deletion/DiGeorge region, and FMR1 (fragile X mental retardation 1) repeat expansion, which influence development of both ASD and PD with converging features related to synaptic function and neurogenesis. Both PD and ASD display alterations and impairments at the synaptic level, representing early and key disease phenotypes which support the hypothesis of converging mechanisms between the two types of diseases. Therefore, understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms might inform on common targets and therapeutic approaches. We propose to re-conceptualize how we understand these disorders and provide a new angle into disease targets and mechanisms linking neurodevelopmental disorders and neurodegeneration.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202012.0244.v1
Subject: Biology And Life Sciences, Anatomy And Physiology Keywords: CAMs; Classical Cadherins; Nectins; Neocortical Development; Radial Glia Cells; Neurons; Neuronal Migration; Axon Targeting; Synaptogenesis; Autism/Neurodevelopmental disorders
Online: 10 December 2020 (10:23:42 CET)
The neocortex is an exquisitely organized structure achieved through complex cellular processes from the generation of neural cells to their integration into cortical circuits after complex migration processes. During this long journey, neural cells need to stablish and release adhesive interactions through cell surface receptors known as cell adhesion molecules (CAMs). Several types of CAMs have been described regulating different aspects of neurodevelopment. Whereas some of them mediate interactions with the extracellular matrix, others allow contacts with additional cells. In this review, we will focus on the role of two important families of cell-cell adhesion molecules (C-CAMs), classical cadherins and nectins, as well as in their effectors, in the control of fundamental processes related with corticogenesis, with especial attention in the cooperative actions among the two families of C-CAMs.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202007.0477.v1
Subject: Biology And Life Sciences, Biochemistry And Molecular Biology Keywords: Autism; Schizophrenia; Mental Depression; Ataxia; Fragile X; Parkinson’s disease; Mitochondria; Genes’ expression; Tissues; neurological disorders; nervous systems disorders
Online: 21 July 2020 (11:07:07 CEST)
The art of observing and describing behaviors has driven diagnosis and informed basic science in Psychiatry. In recent times, studies of mental illness are focused on understanding the brain’s neurobiology but there is a paucity of information on the potential contributions from peripheral activity to mental health. In Precision Medicine, this common practice leaves a gap between bodily behaviors and genomics that we here propose to address with a new layer of inquiry that includes genes’ expression on tissues inclusive of brain, heart, muscle-skeletal and organs for vital bodily functions. We interrogate genes’ expression on human tissue as a function of disease-associated genes. By removing genes linked to disease from the typical human set, and recomputing the genes’ expressions on the tissues, we can compare the outcomes across mental illnesses, well-known neurological conditions, and non-neurological ones. We find that major neuropsychiatric conditions that are behaviorally defined today (e.g. Autism, Schizophrenia, Depression) through DSM-observation criteria, have strong convergence with well-known neurological ones (e.g. Ataxias, Parkinson), but less overlap with non-neurological ones. Surprisingly, tissues majorly involved in the central control, coordination, adaptation and learning of movements, emotion and memory are maximally affected in psychiatric diagnoses along with peripheral heart and muscle-skeletal tissues. Our results underscore the importance of considering both the brain-body connection and the contributions of the peripheral nervous systems to mental health.
ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints201904.0246.v2
Subject: Medicine And Pharmacology, Neuroscience And Neurology Keywords: Oxytocin, Oxytocin Receptor, Autism, Nepsys Scale, MAST Immune System Disease, Dendritic Spines, Magnocellular Neurons, Desensitization, Labor, Down Regulation
Online: 23 April 2019 (11:12:19 CEST)
This paper develops mathematical models examining possible roles of oxytocin and oxytocin receptors in the development of autism. This is done by demonstrating that mathematical operations on normalized data from the Stanford study (K.J. Parker, 2016), which establishes a correspondence between severity of autism in children and their oxytocin blood levels, generates a graph that is the same as the graph of mathematical operations on a normalized theoretical model for the severity of autism. This procedure establishes the validity of the theoretical model and the significance of oxytocin receptors in autism. A steady-state model follows, explaining the constant baseline concentrations of oxytocin observed in the cerebral spinal fluid and blood in terms of the neuromodulation by oxytocin of oxytocin receptors on the magnocellular neurons that produce oxytocin in nuclei in the hypothalamus. The implications of these models for possible roles of oxytocin and oxytocin receptors in autism is considered for several unrelated conditions that may be associated with autism. These are: oxytocin receptor desensitization and down-regulation as factors during labor in offspring autism development; reductions in the oxytocin receptor numbers in the fixed oxytocin receptor expression that occurs before birth; MAST Immune System disease; and the excess number of dendritic spines from lack of pruning observed in brains of autistic people. Research into the feasibility of generating magnocellular neurons and other neurons from adult stem cells is suggested as a way of doing invitro studies of oxytocin and oxytocin receptors to assess the validity of theories presented in this paper.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints201609.0022.v1
Subject: Medicine And Pharmacology, Psychiatry And Mental Health Keywords: Pervasive developmental disorder; Autism spectrum disorder (ASD); brain network; Theory of Mind (ToM); Music Therapy (MT); therapeutic effect
Online: 6 September 2016 (11:53:58 CEST)
Music has the innate potential to reach all parts of the brain, stimulates certain brain areas which are not achievable through other modalities. Music Therapy (MT) is being used for more than a century to treat individuals who needs personalized care. MT optimizes motor, speech and language responsibilities of the brain and improves cognitive performance. Pervasive developmentdisorder (PDD) is a multifaceted, neuro developmental disorder and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) comes under PDD, which is defined by deficiencies in three principal spheres: social connection with others, communicative and normal movement skills. The conventional imaging studies illustrate reduced brain area connectivity in people with ASD, involving selected parts of the brain cortex. People with ASD express much interest in musical activities which engages the brain network areas and improves communication and social skills.The main objective of this review is to analyze the potential role of MT in treating the neurological conditions, particularly ASD. Evidence based studies have reported the extensive therapeutic application of music on various part of the brain in a nonverbal child with autism through hearing or making music.Hence we hypothesized that MT intervention can improve the communication capacity in people with ASD, than customary neurorestoration therapy alone.
CASE REPORT | doi:10.20944/preprints202011.0710.v1
Subject: Medicine And Pharmacology, Immunology And Allergy Keywords: 22q13.3 duplication; Auditory steady state response, ASSR; SHANK3; biomarker; auditory event-related potential, ERP; autism spectrum disorders; intellectual disabilities
Online: 30 November 2020 (08:33:26 CET)
SHANK3 encodes scaffold protein involved in postsynaptic receptor density in glutamatergic synapses, including those in the parvalbumin (PV)+inhibitory neurons – the key players in generation of sensory gamma oscillations, such as 40-Hz auditory steady-state response(ASSR). Here we describe a clinical and neurophysiological phenotype of a 15-years old girl (SH01) with microduplication of 16389 bp in 22q13.33, affecting the SHANK3 gene in comparison to typically developing children (n=32). EEG were recorded during the binaurally presentation of 40-Hz clicks’ trains lasting for 500 ms with inter-trial intervals 500-800 ms. SH01 was diagnosed with mild mental retardation and learning disabilities(F70.88) and had problems with reading and writing, as well as smaller vocabulary than TD peers. Her clinical phenotype generally resembled the phenotype of previously described patients with 22q13.33 microduplication. SH01 had mild autistic symptoms but below the threshold for ASD diagnosis. No seizures or MRI abnormalities were reported. While SH01 had relatively preserved auditory event-related potential(ERP) with slightly attenuated P1, her 40-Hz ASSR was totally absent significantly deviating from TD’s ASSR. Absence of 40-Hz ASSR in patient with microduplication, affected SHANK3 gene, indicates deficient temporal resolution of the auditory system, that might underlie language problems, and represent neurophysiological biomarker of SHANK3 abnormalities.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202007.0425.v1
Subject: Medicine And Pharmacology, Psychiatry And Mental Health Keywords: autism spectrum disorder; neuroinflammation; kynurenine pathway; microglia; oxidative stress; mitochondrial disorder; immune deregulation; QUIN (quinolinic acid); KYNA (kynurenic acid); tryptophan catabolites
Online: 19 July 2020 (19:19:31 CEST)
Autism Spectrum Disorder etiopathogenesis is still unclear and no effective preventive and treatment measures have been identified. Research has focused on the potential role of neuroinflammation and kynurenine pathway. Here we review the nature of these interactions. Pre-natal or neonatal infections would induce microglial activation, with secondary consequences on behavior, cognition and neurotransmitter networks. Peripherally, higher levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and anti-brain antibodies have been identified. Increased frequency of autoimmune diseases, allergies, and recurring infections have been demonstrated both in autistic patients and in their relatives. Genetic studies, also, have identified some important polymorphisms in chromosome loci related to human leukocyte antigen (HLA) system. The persistence of immune-inflammatory deregulation would lead to mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress, creating a self-sustaining cytotoxic loop. Chronic inflammation activates kynurenine pathway with increase in neurotoxic metabolites and excitotoxicity, causing long-term changes in glutamatergic system, trophic support and synaptic function. Furthermore, overactivation of kynurenine’s branch induces depletion of melatonin and serotonin worsening ASD symptoms. In this scenario, kynurenine pathway appears as a pharmacological target to treat and prevent ASD. Thus, in genetically predisposed subjects aberrant neurodevelopment may derives from a complex interplay between inflammatory process, mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress and kynurenine pathway overexpression. To validate previous hypothesis a new translational research approach is necessary.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202106.0344.v1
Subject: Medicine And Pharmacology, Immunology And Allergy Keywords: chronic inflammation; low grade inflammation; immune tolerance; inflammatory factor; kynurenine; kynurenic acid; depression; bipolar disorder; substance use disorder; post-traumatic stress disorder; schizophrenia; autism spectrum disorder
Online: 14 June 2021 (10:06:50 CEST)
The tryptophan (TRP)-kynurenine (KYN) metabolic pathway is a main player of TRP metabolism through which more than 95% of TRP is catabolized. The pathway is activated by acute and chronic immune responses leading to a wide range of illnesses including cancer, immune diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, and psychiatric disorders. The TRP-KYN pathway synthesizes multifarious metabolites including oxidants, antioxidants, neurotoxins, neuroprotectants, and immunomodulators. The immunomodulators are known to facilitate the immune system towards a tolerogenic state, resulting in chronic low-grade inflammation (LGI) that is commonly present in obesity, poor nutrition, exposer to chemicals or allergens, prodromal stage of various illnesses, and chronic diseases. KYN, kynurenic acid, xanthurenic acid, and cinnabarinic acid are aryl hydrocarbon receptor ligands that serve as immunomodulators. Furthermore, TRP-KYN pathway enzymes are known to be activated by the stress hormone cortisol and inflammatory cytokines, and genotypic variants were observed to contribute to inflammation and thus various diseases. The tryptophan 2,3-dioxygenase, the indoleamine 2, 3-oxygenases, and the kynurenine-3-monooxygenase are main enzymes in the pathway. This review article discusses the TRP-KYN pathway with special emphasis on its interaction with the immune system and the tolerogenic shift towards chronic LGI and overviews the major symptoms, pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines, and toxic and protective KYNs to explore the linkage between chronic LGI, KYNs, and major psychiatric, including depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, substance use disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, and autism spectrum disorder.
REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints201906.0192.v1
Subject: Medicine And Pharmacology, Psychiatry And Mental Health Keywords: voltage-gated calcium channels; major depressive disorder; autism spectrum disorder; schizophrenia; bipolar disorder; attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorder; anxiety; calcium channel modulators; psychiatric disorders; auxiliary subunits; genetic risk variations
Online: 20 June 2019 (04:16:52 CEST)
Psychiatric disorders are mental, behavioral or emotional disorders. These conditions are prevalent, one in four adults suffer from any type of psychiatric disorders world-wide. It has always been observed that psychiatric disorders have a genetic component, however new methods to sequence full genomes of large cohorts have identified with high precision genetic risk loci for these conditions. Psychiatric disorders include, but are not limited to, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorder, anxiety disorders, major depressive disorder, and attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorder. Several risk loci for psychiatric disorders fall within genes that encode for voltage-gated calcium channels (CaVs). Calcium entering through CaVs is key for multiple neuronal processes. In this review, we will summarize recent findings that link CaVs and their auxiliary subunits to psychiatric disorders. First, we will provide a general overview of CaVs structure, classification, function, expression and pharmacology. Next, we will summarize tools and databases to study risk loci associated with psychiatric disorders. We will examine functional studies of risk variations in CaV genes when available. We will review pharmacological evidence of the use of CaV modulators to treat psychiatric disorders. Our review will be of interest for those studying pathophysiological aspects of CaVs.