Spectrum Newsletter - Issue 12

Issue 12 - May 2013

Spectrum informs ADDRP Newsletter subscribers about the latest ADDRP activities, reviews recent studies in the field of autism and developmental disorders, and lists any available educational opportunities through Lucille Packard Children's Hospital and Stanford University.


Welcome! This, the twelfth issue of our newsletter, Spectrum, is being sent to provide you with updated information on the activities of the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Research Program at Stanford University. The research program is under the direction of Dr. Antonio Hardan. We appreciated the feedback that we received about our previous issues and look forward to hearing your input on this and future issues. We hope that you will find this newsletter helpful and informative. Please feel free to share this newsletter with family and friends.

Special Educational Activity

6th Annual Autism Spectrum Disorder Update

The Stanford Autism Center at Packard Children's Hospital presents the 6th Annual Autism Spectrum Disorders Update on Saturday, June 1, 2013. This one-day conference for parents, educators and care providers of children with an autism spectrum disorder. This annual update will concentrate on promising scientific advances that can lead to improved treatment for children with an autism spectrum disorder.

The program will begin at 8:30 am and end at 4:30 pm. The Symposium will be held at:

Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center
Stanford University
326 Galvez St.
Stanford, CA 94305-6105

To register and learn more please go to the autism update event homepage, call us at (650) 721-6327, or email chatwell@stanford.edu

other events

Autism Parent Support Group

Parents of children with autism face a unique set of challenges. Connecting with other families can be a valuable form of support. Topics for discussion will include:
  • Advocating for your child
  • Dealing with impact on family
  • Navigating school and learning issues
  • Investigating treatment options and resources

  • Upcoming meetings:
  • May 9, 2013
  • June 13, 2013

  • For the latest information please go to http://childpsychiatry.stanford.edu/autism.html



    Visit our website and "like us" on facebook! The website and group page on facebook contain important information about our research program and staff, details and descriptions on the wide number of research studies currently underway, information on how to participate in our studies, and links to other organizations and resources.

    Issue 12, May 2013


    Optimal outcome in individuals with a history of autism (Fein et al., 2013; University of Connecticut).

    Although autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are generally thought to persist throughout life, some evidence suggests that some individuals with ASD will lose their diagnosis. However, questions remain about the occurrence, frequency, and explanation of this phenomenon: were these individuals diagnosed accurately initially?; how common is the loss of diagnosis?; and are these individuals, after losing their diagnosis, still suffering from social and communication impairments? This study, authored by Fein et al., follows 34 of these ‘optimal outcome’ individuals (OO group) by comparing their functioning on standardized measures to two other groups of similar ages, gender ratio, and nonverbal IQ scores: 44 people diagnosed with high-functioning autism (HFA group) and 34 typically developing individuals (TD group). For this study, 'optimal outcome' is defined as when a person with ASD loses all symptoms of the disorder, as well as the diagnosis, and is found to function within the non-autistic range of social interaction and communication. The authors explored many factors including language, face recognition, socialization, communication, and autism symptoms. OO and TD groups' mean scores on socialization, communication, face recognition, or most language subscales were the same. However, three OO individuals performed below average on face recognition. In comparison with the HFA group, the OO group showed milder symptoms in the social domain but had equally severe difficulties with communication and repetitive behaviors. Possible deficits in more subtle aspects of social interaction or cognition should not be ruled out, but the results substantiate the possibility of an optimal outcome in individuals with autism spectrum disorders that includes overall functioning within normal limits.

    Psychiatric Comorbidity in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Comparison with Children with ADHD (Van Steensel et al., 2013; University of Amsterdam).

    There is a high rate of comorbid psychiatric symptoms in children diagnosed with autism including anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity. Recently, Van Steensel et al. (2013) published a study examining comorbid psychiatric disorders in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in comparison to those in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The investigators assessed 40 children with ASD and 40 with ADHD between the ages of 7-18 years. All diagnoses were based on DSM-IV classifications for the respective primary diagnosis (ASD/ADHD). Comorbid psychiatric disorders were assessed using a structured diagnostic interview, the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV, Childhood Diagnoses (KID-SCID). The authors found that more children with ASD (n= 23; 57.5%) had at least one comorbid disorder than children with ADHD (n= 16; 40%). There was no group difference with regard to the comorbidity rate of externalizing disorders such as oppositional defiant disorder and/or conduct disorder.

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    Below we have highlighted just a few of our studies that we are recruiting for. For a complete list of all currently recruiting research studies please visit our new website at autismdd.stanford.edu

    Oxytocin treatment trial for social deficits in children with autism

    Stanford University researchers are currently recruiting children with autism to participate in a research study which tests the effects of intranasal oxytocin on social functioning.
    In order to participate in this research study your child must:
    • Be diagnosed with autistic disorder.
    • Be between the ages of 6 and 12 years.
    • Be willing to take an oxytocin nasal spray for at least 4 weeks and provide blood samples.
    • Be willing to participate in behavioral and cognitive testing.
    • Have no serious medical problems.

    You will also receive generalized results regarding your child's cognitive and behavioral assessments. Please contact us at (650) 736-1235 if you are interested.

    Sleep Study in Children with Autism, Developmental Delay, or in Typically Developing Children

    Be part of a study investigating the type, severity and impact of sleep disorders in autism spectrum disorders.

    To be eligible for this study you must:
    • Be between the ages of 3 and 18.
    • Have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, developmental delay or are typically developing and in good medical health.
    • Be willing to wear equipment in the home to measure sleep.
    • Perform up to four hours of behavioral testing

    You will receive $100 upon completion of the sleep study and behavioral assessments. Please contact us at (650) 736-1235 if you are interested.

    Children and Adolescents are Needed to Participate in Research Studies

    We are actively recruiting children who are typically developing or who have one of several neuropsychiatric diagnoses for many of our studies. We are looking for individuals who are or who have one of the following:

    • Typically Developing
    • Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis
    • Developmental Disability diagnosis
    • ADHD diagnosis
    • Same-Sex Twins
    • Born Prematurely

    Please contact us at (650) 736-1235 if you are interested.

    ICATS - Imaging California Autism Twins Study

    This study compares twins with Autism Spectrum Disorder to typically developing twins.
    Subjects must be a same-sex twin pair:
    • Where one or both have been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
    • Where both are typically developing and in good medical health.
    • Between ages 3-14 years old.
    • Willing to complete behavioral testing and a brain-imaging scan.

    Each twin will receive $100 for completion. Please contact us at (650) 723-7809 if you are interested.

    Emotional Reactivity and Regulation in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders

    This study looks at how youth with autism experience their emotions, and to what extent they use emotion regulation strategies to change specific emotions and thus alter the way they feel about a given situation. We hope that our research will lead to changes in increasing the effectiveness of current autism therapies.

    In order to participate in this research study your child must:

    • Between the ages of 8-21 years old in good medical health with or without an ASD diagnosis
    • Be willing to participate in psycholophysiological and neuroimaging experiments
    • Be willing to come to Stanford Hospital and Psychophysiology Lab up to four times

    Each participant will be paid $30 for each completed session. For more information please call (650) 353-5777

    Editorial Staff:
    Sean Berquist, BS
    Antonio Hardan, MD

    Let us know what you think!
    Comments and suggestions are welcome. 

    Send feedback to autismdd@stanford.edu.

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    Autism & Developmental Disabilities
    Research Program
    Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
    401 Quarry Rd., Stanford, CA | 94305-5719
    Website: autismdd.stanford.edu Email: autismdd@stanford.edu
    Research: 650-736-1235 | Clinical Services: 650-723-5511