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IAN Researchers Discuss SSC Follow-up, School Services, Behavior

Date Published: 
May 11, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Researchers from the Interactive Autism Network (IAN) are discussing their work at poster sessions at the International Meeting for Autism Research this week. Hundreds of scientists and doctors from around the world have gathered to share their research into the causes, treatment, and diagnosis of autism. IAN is sharing what it has learned from families and people with autism who participate in its research. Here is what IAN is doing today:

Follow-Up Study of the Simons Simplex Collection at the Interactive Autism Network

Researchers from IAN and the Simons Foundations Autism Research Initiative will discuss the results of a follow-up study of families who participated in the Simons Simplex Collection (SSC), a major research project that has yielded new information about autism.

Data from SSC families, who each have just one child with autism, have been used in many genetic, behavior, and medical studies. Researchers recently re-contacted many of those families to see how their children have been doing since the original study closed in 2011. About 288 families of children under age 18 completed a new set of surveys for this follow-up.1

These children have fewer repetitive behaviors now than they did when younger, according to Elizabeth Brooks and Jaimie Toroney. However, parents reported significant rates of anxiety and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in these now older children and teens with autism. The use of medication, including stimulants for ADHD symptoms, mood stabilizers, anti-seizure drugs, and antidepressants, increased over the years. The researchers concluded that "the great increase in overall medication use could indicate persisting behavioral difficulties that need to be addressed as the children age and encounter more complex daily demands."1

Seventeen (4 percent) families reported having another child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the intervening years.

Impact of Household Income and Urbanicity on School Services

IAN researchers looked at the relationship of family income and population density on school services for children with autism.2 They surveyed parents of 1,774 children with ASD who lived in communities of different population sizes. Children in rural areas had more school suspensions, and were less likely to attend specialized schools (public, nonpublic or private) than children in cities, suburbs and small-medium metropolitan areas. They also were less likely to be in private, general schools, according to IAN's Briella L. Baer.

Household income did not appear to affect attendance in a public school, which more than two-thirds attended regardless of income. However, there were differences in other school placements by income. For example, children whose families earned more than $135,000 a year were more likely to attend specialized private/nonpublic schools than children whose families earned $45,000 or less. Children in rural areas, and children from families who earned $45,000 a year or less, were more likely to be homeschooled than other children with ASD.

Students in suburban areas were more likely to use behavior therapy, assistive technology, applied behavior analysis, and social skills training groups.2

Age-Based Patterns of Parent-Reported Medical and Behavioral Problems in Children and Adolescents with ASD

IAN researchers surveyed parents of 1,321 children to learn if parents' medical and behavioral concerns differed depending on the age of their child with autism. They found that parents of children ages 6 to 10 reported more challenges in behavior, coordination, gastrointestinal issues and safety. Parents of teens ages 13 to 17 reported more concerns about depression.3

Check back tomorrow and Saturday for more conference reports from IAN.

Photo of Jaimie Toroney, MHS; Briella Baer, MHS; and J. Kiely Law, MD, MPH, at IMFAR.

References

  1. Brooks E, Toroney JW, Feliciano P, et al. Simons Simplex Collection at the Interactive Autism Network: An online follow-up study. Poster at the International Meeting for Autism Research, May 11, 2017.
  2. Baer BL, Marvin AR, Lipkin PH, Law JK. Impact of household income and urbanicity on school services. Poster at the International Meeting for Autism Research, May 11, 2017.
  3. Marvin AR, Law JK, Marvin D, Lipkin PH. Age-based patterns of parent-reported medical and behavioral problems in children and adolescents with ASD. Poster at the International Meeting for Autism Research, May 11, 2017.