By Marlena Smith

Marlena N. Smith earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley. She has been with CARD since fall 2009 and works as an Analytics Coordinator. In addition to writing for the blog, Marlena has contributed to multiple CARD Research and Development publications. In her free time, Marlena enjoys hiking, cooking, singing karaoke, and spending time with family.

Camp Discovery Learning App For Children With Autism

Does your child love using your iPad or tablet? Teach your child new skills with Camp Discovery. Developed by the CARD, Camp Discovery houses a growing suite of educational games. Grounded on evidence-based teaching principles, Camp Discovery creates fun learning opportunities for children with autism. Camp Discovery offers many unique features including preference assessments, fun mini games, progress tracking graphs, parent controls and more. Camp Discovery is an excellent educational tool for children ages 2 and up.

CARD eLearning: An Effective Tool for Teaching Family Members the Principles of ABA

In a recent study, CARD researcher Jina Jang and colleagues found the CARD eLearning program to be effective in training family members of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) in the principles and procedures of applied behavior analysis (ABA). CARD eLearning is a web-based training program that covers topics about ABA and the treatment of ASD. Caregiver training is a crucial component of ABA treatment. Some research has suggested that caregiver involvement may improve treatment outcomes for children with ASD.

Assessing the Function of Stereotypy in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

In a recent study, CARD researcher Arthur Wilke and colleagues found stereotypy to be maintained by automatic reinforcement in the majority of children with ASD. Among the core features of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) is the presence of repetitive and restricted behavior, also known as stereotypy. High rates of stereotypy can hinder social interaction and learning in children with ASD. As with any problem behavior, the function that is maintaining a stereotyped behavior must be identified before intervention can occur. Behaviors may be maintained by attention, escape, access to an object, or the behavior itself may be automatically reinforcing. For example, a child may repeatedly slap his hand against a flat surface because he likes the tingling feeling that results. While it is often assumed that the function of stereotypy in children with ASD is automatic, function should never be presumed based solely on the type of behavior. For this reason, CARD researchers investigated the function of stereotyped behavior in children with ASD.

Are Clinical Diagnoses of Autism Spectrum Disorders Consistent across Assessment Centers?

A recent study has received a lot of media attention over its finding that clinical diagnoses of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) may be inconsistent across assessment centers. Current diagnostic criteria for ASD is broken down into three separate diagnoses, which include autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger’s disorder. In this study, the authors set out to determine if clinical diagnoses of these disorders are consistent across different assessment centers.

Hacienda Oaks Estates

The event was truly spectacular. It included live music, wine tasting, an amazing assortment of hors d’oeuvres, as well as an incredible Italian buffet. I had the pleasure of speaking with many parent volunteers including Cynthia Conway, the President of Hacienda Oaks Estates. Cynthia is a registered and licensed occupational therapist who has been working in the field of autism for over 15 years. Cynthia was inspired to set up Hacienda Oaks Estates after watching her clients grow up and approach adulthood.

Senate Passes Combating Autism Reauthorization Act

On MondaySeptember 26, the Senate unanimously passed the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA). This bill, if enacted, will renew the 2006 Combating Autism Act for the next three years, securing federal funding in the amount of $693 million for autism research and treatment.

Popular Cartoon Found to Have a Negative Effect on Executive Function in Children

Participants included 60 four-year-old children,. The participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups. Each group participated in a different activity for the duration of nine minutes. The first group watched “a very popular fantastical cartoon about an animated sponge that lives under the sea,” clearly referring to SpongeBob SquarePants. The second group watched “a realistic Public Broadcasting Service cartoon about a typical US preschool-aged boy,” rumored to be Caillou. Finally, the third group colored with crayons and markers. Immediately following the activity, participants were administered a number of tasks that measured executive function.

Can Brain Scans Discriminate Children with Autism from Children with Typical Development?

In a recent study, Dr. Lucina Uddin and colleagues found magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to accurately differentiate children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) from children with typical development based on volumes of gray matter in specific regions of the brain. While previous MRI studies have identified differences in the brain scans of children with ASD and children with typical development, there has been no real consensus regarding which distinctive neurological features can serve as reliable biological markers in the detection of ASD. This may stem from the fact that ASD is a heterogeneous disorder that likely affects the development of many areas of the brain. For this reason, Dr. Uddin and colleagues used MRI scans in an attempt to identify brain regions that together may differentiate children with ASD from children with typical development.