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- Job Burnout among Iranian Elementary School Teachers of Students with Autism: a Comparative Study. [Journal Article]
- Iran J Psychiatry 2013 Mar; 8(1):20-7.
Teachers often experience burnout and challenges during their active career. Different studies have shown that those directly involved with teaching children with special needs are more subject to burnout. Due to advance screening tools, more children with autism are now diagnosed and involved in special education. The aim of the present study was to investigate the professional burnout in teachers of children with autism compared to teachers of other children with special needs.Casual Comparative study design was used for this research. Three self-reported measures (Maslach Burnout Inventory, Job Descriptive Index, and General Health Questionnaire) were distributed; clustered sampling selection was conducted to select participants. Ninety three female teachers (32 teachers of children with autism, 30 teachers in schools for deaf and 31 for teachers of children with mental retardation) from 12 schools located in 4 districts of Tehran were selected. Pearson's and Spearman's correlation statistical tests, analysis of variances and regression were used to analyze the results.Results of the current study revealed a significant difference in criterion validity between the three groups of teachers The three groups were different in terms of general health (p=0.010), emotional exhaustion (p=0.005) and depersonalization (p<0.001); however considering other variables no significant differences were observed. Comparison between groups showed that the average scores of teachers of children with autism were significantly higher than teachers of deaf and hard of hearing and mentally retarded children in general health, fatigue, and depersonalization variables. No significant differences were observed in average scores of teachers for mentally retarded and deaf children.Female teachers' of children with autism are experiencing significantly higher levels of burnout and general mental health problems compared to teachers of children with other disabilities requiring special education.
- [Psychometric Properties of the Autism-Checklist (ACL) in Adults with Intellectual Disability.] [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Psychiatr Prax 2013 May 16.
Objective:To determine the validity of the Autism-Checklist (ACL) in adults with intellectual disability (ID) who are suspected of having autism spectrum disorder.
Methods:In 154 adults with ID the results of the ACL were compared to the results of the final diagnostic classification obtained by a multiprofessional case conference for autism. Psychometric properties of the ACL were evaluated.
Results:The internal consistency as indicated by Cronbach's alpha was 0.81. The ACL sum score highly correlated with established screening measures such as the Social Communication Questionnaire (SCQ: Spearman's rho = 0.620) and the Pervasive Developmental Disorder in Mental Retardation Scale (PDD-MRS: Spearman's rho = 0.490). ROC Analysis revealed an area under the curve of 0.859. The ACL classification complied with the final diagnostic classification in 80.5 % and Cohen's kappa revealed a moderate agreement of 0.596. Sensitivity/specificity of the ACL were 90.7 %/67.6 %, respectively. Interrater-intertime reliability was good (Cohen's kappa = 0.702; Spearman = 0.549; n = 53). In 19 patients (22 %) a diagnosis of ASD had been given prior to referral.
Conclusion:The ACL is a suitable measure for adults with ID and suspicion of autism spectrum disorders.
- Does a Duty of Disclosure Foster Special Treatment of Genetic Research Participants? [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- J Genet Couns 2013 May 17.
The principle that research participants not receive enhanced care compared to non-participants may be challenged by a duty to disclose genetic research results, especially where care is otherwise inaccessible. Autism researchers' attitudes toward providing enhanced care to study participants were analyzed quantitatively using descriptive and multivariate analyses of survey data and qualitatively through thematic analysis of interview data. Approximately half of survey respondents (n = 168, RR = 44 %) agreed they should provide additional knowledge (52 %) or services (48 %) to study participants that may not be available to non-participants. Qualitatively (n = 23), respondents were motivated by the notion of reciprocity but highlighted tensions when research enables access to expertise and therapeutic resources that are otherwise difficult to obtain. For researchers, feeling obliged to report research results may be in conflict with the obligation to avoid special treatment of research participants; this may in turn threaten principles of voluntariness, autonomy, and justice.
- Pharmacological treatments prescribed to people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in primary health care. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Psychopharmacology (Berl) 2013 May 17.
RATIONALE:Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) affect 1 % of children, having significant impact on health and social outcomes. Psychotropic medication use by individuals with ASD in the USA increased over time, and polypharmacy occurred in >50 % of those prescribed. In the UK, no psychotropic drugs are approved in ASDs, and little is known about patterns of pharmacological treatment in the ASD population and associated co-morbidities.
METHODS:We used The Health Improvement Network, a nationally representative primary care database, to assess the prevalence of ASD diagnoses, psychotropic drug prescribing and neuropsychiatric co-morbidities of 0-24 year olds between 1992 and 2008.
RESULTS:ASD prevalence increased 65-fold from 0.01 % (1992) to 0.50 % (2008). Psychotropic drugs were prescribed to 29 % (1,619/5,651) of the ASD cohort; the most prescribed drugs were sleep medication (9.7 % of prescribed patients), psychostimulants (7.9 %) and antipsychotics (7.3 %). More patients were given psychostimulants and sleep medications over time from 1.5-6.3 % and 2.2-5.9 % respectively. Thirty-seven per cent of the cohort had ≥1 record of a neuropsychiatric co-morbidity, the most common being developmental difficulties and learning disabilities (12.6 %), behavioural, conduct and personality disorders (11.1 %) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (7.5 %).
CONCLUSIONS:British physicians are more conservative in prescribing practice than American colleagues. However, use of psychostimulants and antipsychotics is much higher in those with ASD than in the general population. Polypharmacy was seen in 34 % of prescribed patients in 2008. Additional studies examining use, efficacy, and long-term safety of antipsychotics and psychostimulants in autistic individuals are warranted.
- Central nervous system effects of prenatal selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors: sensing the signal through the noise. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Psychopharmacology (Berl) 2013 May 17.
RATIONALE:Women are increasingly prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) during pregnancy, with potential implications for neurodevelopment. Whether prenatal SSRI exposure has an effect on neurodevelopment and behavior in the offspring is an important area of investigation.
OBJECTIVES:The aim of this paper was to review the existing preclinical and clinical literature of prenatal SSRI exposure on serotonin-related behaviors and markers in the offspring. The goal is to determine if there is a signal in the literature that could guide clinical care and/or inform research.
RESULTS:Preclinical studies (n = 4) showed SSRI exposure during development enhanced depression-like behavior. Half of rodent studies examining anxiety-like behavior (n = 13) noted adverse effects with SSRI exposure. A majority of studies of social behavior (n = 4) noted a decrease in sociability in SSRI exposed offspring. Human studies (n = 4) examining anxiety in the offspring showed no adverse effects of prenatal SSRI exposure. The outcome of one study suggested that children with autism were more likely to have a mother who was prescribed an SSRI during pregnancy.
CONCLUSIONS:Preclinical findings in rodents exposed to SSRIs during development point to an increase in depression- and anxiety-like behavior and alteration in social behaviors in the offspring, though both the methods used and the findings were not uniform. These data are not robust enough to discourage use of SSRIs during human pregnancy, particularly given the known adverse effects of maternal mental illness on pregnancy outcomes and infant neurodevelopment. Future research should focus on consistent animal models and prospective human studies with larger samples.
- Correlates of patient portal enrollment and activation in primary care pediatrics. [Journal Article]
- Acad Pediatr 2013 May-Jun; 13(3):264-71.
To identify the demographic, practice site, and clinical predictors of patient portal enrollment and activation among a pediatric primary care population.We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of the primary care database of an academic children's hospital that introduced a patient portal in December 2007.We analyzed data for 84,015 children. Over a 4-year period, 38% enrolled in the portal; of these, 26% activated the account. The adjusted odds of portal enrollment was lower for adolescents, Medicaid recipients, low-income families, Asian or other race, and Hispanic ethnicity, and higher for patients with more office encounters, and presence of autism on the problem list. Once enrolled, the odds of portal activation [adjusted odds ratio (95% confidence interval)] was decreased for: Medicaid [0.55 (0.50-0.61)] and uninsured [0.79 (0.64-0.97)] (vs private insurance), black [0.53 (0.49-0.57)] and other [0.80 (0.71-0.91)] (vs white race), Hispanic ethnicity [0.77 (0.62-0.97)], and increased for: infant age [1.26 (1.15-1.37)] (vs school age), attendance at a resident continuity practice site [1.91 (1.23-2.97)], living further away from the practice (vs under 2 miles)[4.5-8.8 miles: 1.14 (1.02-1.29); more than 8.8 miles: 1.19 (1.07-1.33)], having more office encounters (vs 1-3) [4-7 encounters: 1.40 (1.24-1.59); 8-12 encounters: 1.58 (1.38-1.81); 13+ encounters: 2.09 (1.72-2.55)], and having 3 or more items on the problem list (vs 0) [1.19 (1.07-1.33)].Sociodemographic disparities exist in patient portal enrollment/activation in primary care pediatrics. Attendance at a resident continuity practice site, living farther away from the practice, having more office encounters, and having more problem list items increased the odds of portal activation.
- Classification of emotional States from electrocardiogram signals: a non-linear approach based on hurst. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Biomed Eng Online 2013 May 16; 12(1):44.
BACKGROUND:Identifying the emotional state is helpful in applications involving patients with autism and other intellectual disabilities; computer-based training, human computer interaction etc. Electrocardiogram (ECG) signals, being an activity of the autonomous nervous system (ANS), reflect the underlying true emotional state of a person. However, the performance of various methods developed so far lacks accuracy, and more robust methods need to be developed to identify the emotional pattern associated with ECG signals.
METHODS:Emotional ECG data was obtained from sixty participants by inducing the six basic emotional states (happiness, sadness, fear, disgust, surprise and neutral) using audio-visual stimuli. The non-linear feature 'Hurst' was computed using Rescaled Range Statistics (RRS) and Finite Variance Scaling (FVS) methods. New Hurst features were proposed by combining the existing RRS and FVS methods with Higher Order Statistics (HOS). The features were then classified using four classifiers -- Bayesian Classifier, Regression Tree, K- nearest neighbor and Fuzzy K-nearest neighbor. Seventy percent of the features were used for training and thirty percent for testing the algorithm.
RESULTS:Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) conveyed that Hurst and the proposed features were statistically significant (p < 0.001). Hurst computed using RRS and FVS methods showed similar classification accuracy. The features obtained by combining FVS and HOS performed better with a maximum accuracy of 92.87% and 76.45% for classifying the six emotional states using random and subject independent validation respectively.
CONCLUSIONS:The results indicate that the combination of non-linear analysis and HOS tend to retain and capture the finer emotional changes that can be seen in healthy ECG data. This work can be further fine tuned to develop a real time system.
- Effects of age and symptomatology on cortical thickness in autism spectrum disorders. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- Res Autism Spectr Disord 2013 Jan; 7(1):141-150.
Several brain regions show structural and functional abnormalities in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), but the developmental trajectory of abnormalities in these structures and how they may relate to social and communicative impairments are still unclear. We assessed the effects of age on cortical thickness in individuals with ASD, between the ages of 7 and 39 years in comparison to typically developing controls. Additionally, we examined differences in cortical thickness in relation to symptomatology in the ASD group, and their association with age. Analyses were conducted using a general linear model, controlling for sex. Social and communication scores from the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R) were correlated with the thickness of regions implicated in those functions. Controls showed widespread cortical thinning relative to the ASD group. Within regions-of-interest, increased thickness in the rostral anterior cingulate cortex was associated with poorer social scores. Additionally, a significant interaction between age and social impairment was found in the orbitofrontal cortex, with more impaired younger children having decreased thickness in this region. These results suggest that differential neurodevelopmental trajectories are present in individuals with ASD and some differences are associated with diagnostic behaviours.
- Preliminary Findings of a Telehealth Approach to Parent Training in Autism. [JOURNAL ARTICLE]
- J Autism Dev Disord 2013 May 17.
Telehealth or online communication technologies may lessen the gap between intervention requirements for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and the available resources to provide these services. This study used a video conferencing and self-guided website to provide parent training in the homes of children with ASD. The first eight families to complete the 12-week online intervention and three-month follow up period served as pilot data. Parents' intervention skills and engagement with the website, as well as children's verbal language and joint attention skills were assessed. Preliminary research suggests telehealth may support parental learning and improve child behaviors for some families. This initial assessment of new technologies for making parent training resources available to families with ASD merits further, in-depth study.