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Health Awareness Week


World Autism Understanding Day

2 April 2023

April 2, World Autism Awareness Day, has been an officially sanctioned United Nations General Assembly Day of Observance since 2008. The United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared 2 April as World Autism Awareness Day (A/RES/62/139) to highlight the need to help improve the quality of life of those with autism so they can lead full and meaningful lives as an integral part of society. Autism Spectrum Australia



Children and adolescents

Diagnosis and screening











Alexithymia in autism spectrum disorder
Assessing all facets of alexithymia, across both valence domains, may help identify subgroups with particular social and communication difficulties, and in turn, support the development of personalised interventions. Australian psychologist 20 February 2023

A survey of assessment practices among health professionals diagnosing females with autism

  • No previous survey research has examined autism assessment practices for females.
  • Few health professionals received University training in assessing females for autism.
  • Psychologists and speech pathologists lacked confidence in this area post-training.
  • Most reported that they engaged in similar assessment practices across genders.
  • Lack of awareness and/or validation of newer measures may be driving these practices.

Research in developmental disabilities 7 February 2023

Autism spectrum disorder and personality disorders: How do clinicians carry out a differential diagnosis?
Although it is recognised that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and personality disorders (PDs) have a variety of factors in common, the exact nature of the relationship between ASD and the PDs remains unclear. The overlapping symptom profiles and complexities in developmental trajectories in ASD and PDs can lead to diagnostic uncertainty and to challenges in determining differential diagnoses. Autism 28 January 2023

Digital tools for direct assessment of autism risk during early childhood: A systematic review
The purpose of this systematic review is to identify and characterise potentially scalable digital tools for direct assessment of autism spectrum disorder risk in early childhood. Autism 7 November 2022

Identification of subgroups of children in the Australian Autism Biobank using latent class analysis
These findings support the holistic appraisal of support needs for children on the autism spectrum, with assessment of the impact of co-occurring medical and psychiatric conditions in addition to core autism traits, adaptive functioning, and cognitive functioning. Replication of these analysis in other cohorts of children on the autism spectrum is warranted, to assess whether the subgroup structure we identified is applicable in a broader context beyond our specific dataset. Child and adolescent psychiatry and mental health 20 February 2023

Application of symbolic play test in identification of autism spectrum disorder without global developmental delay and developmental language disorder
Symbolic play ability in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) children is worse than that of developmental language disorder (DLD) children at comparable development levels. Symbolic play test (SPT) may be helpful to distinguish ASD without global developmental delay (GDD) from children with DLD. BMC psychiatry 6 March 2023



The well-being and support needs of Australian caregivers of neurodiverse children
Caregivers of children with neurodiverse needs are known to experience challenges and hardship due to the increased needs of the child and the lack of support available. This study aimed to explore the support needs and well-being of caregivers of children with neurodiverse needs in Australia. Journal of developmental and physical disabilities 9 February 2023

Directional Alpha Frontoparietal connectivity and anxiety in autistic boys
This study aimed to identify the neural connectivity patterns between the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and parietal regions in young autistic males, and to determine if Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) was associated with these communication patterns. Journal of developmental and physical disabilities 3 March 2023

Strength-based technology clubs for autistic adolescents: A feasibility study
Strength-based technology clubs are thought to help autistic adolescents transition to adulthood by developing positive traits, enhancing technical skills, and creating supportive networks. A newly developed strength-based technology club was delivered to 25 autistic adolescents, with the feasibility tested via qualitative and quantitative methods. Autistic adolescents, their parents, and club facilitators participated in separate focus groups, with audio data transcribed and thematically analyzed. Quantitative data was collected via adolescent and parent-reported pretest-posttest measures following the 15-week program. Autistic adolescents were highly satisfied with the club (acceptability), the technology club satisfied an unmet need (demand), with the program demonstrating the potential to be integrated into the current therapy system in Australia (integration). Feasibility areas that could be improved in delivering future clubs are discussed. Plos one 3 February 2023

Variable patterns of daily activity participation across settings in autistic youth: A latent profile transition analysis
Participation in daily activities is often linked to functional independence and well-being, yet individual variability in participation and factors associated with that variation have rarely been examined among autistic youth. The authors applied latent profile analysis to identify subgroups of youth based on parent-reported activity participation frequency at home, school and community, as well as associations with youth characteristics, family demographics and environmental supportiveness among 158 autistic youth (aged 11–14 years at baseline). Autism 28 February 2023

Representation of autism in fictional media: A systematic review of media content and its impact on viewer knowledge and understanding of autism
Media depictions of autism have the potential to have either positive or detrimental impacts on the lives of autistic people. This systematic review aimed to examine (1) the accuracy and authenticity of fictional media portrayals of autism (Part A) and (2) the impact of viewing such portrayals on knowledge about autism and attitudes towards autistic people (Part B). Autism 19 February 2023

Sex differences in the course of autistic and co-occurring psychopathological symptoms in adolescents with and without autism spectrum disorder
There is an ongoing debate as to whether autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is expressed differently in women than men. It is unclear whether differences found are specific to autism or merely reflecting normative development. In this study, the authors compared sex differences in developmental trajectories of autistic and co-occurring psychopathological symptoms in adolescents with milder forms of autism to those in a normative group matched for intelligence quotient (IQ) and socioeconomic status. Autism 21 January 2023

Are autistic people disadvantaged by the criminal justice system? A case comparison
The authors conclude that there are inequalities that autistic people face when navigating the criminal justice system and the degree to which they can participate effectively in the justice process. This has an impact on their mental health. Policy recommendations are discussed based on this evidence. Autism 21 December 2022

Dental procedures in children with or without intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder in a hospital setting
This study indicates a need for further improvements in access to dental services and the quality of care provided in hospitals for children with ID/ASD. There is also concern that more vulnerable Indigenous and all disadvantaged children are receiving an inadequate level of dental services resulting in more emergency dental hospitalization and invasive treatment. Australian dental journal 19 June 2022

Sex differences in neurodevelopmental trajectories in children with different levels of autistic traits
Females and males with higher autistic traits than their same-sex peers, independent of clinical diagnosis, may have different phenotypes in certain neurodevelopmental domains during infancy and early childhood. Psychiatry and clinical neurosciences 9 January 2023

Exploring the routine vaccination experience of Australian autistic children and their families: A qualitative study

  • Recommendations to adapt vaccination services for autistic children.
  • Families seek accessible vaccine information to make informed decisions.
  • Parents want to communicate their child's needs to support vaccination experiences.
  • Managing anxiety related to vaccinations is essential to routine care.
  • Each autistic child requires a personalised approach to care.

SSM - Qualitative research in health 11 December 2022



A bibliometric analysis of global research status and trends in neuromodulation techniques in the treatment of autism spectrum disorder
The application of neuromodulation techniques for ASD has attracted the attention of researchers worldwide. Restoring the social ability and improving the comorbid symptoms in autistic children and adults have always been the focus of research. Neuromodulation techniques have demonstrated significant advantages and effects on these issues. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) are new therapeutic methods introduced in recent years, and are also directions for further exploration. BMC psychiatry 20 March 2023

Group versus individual occupational therapy for toddlers with autism as a means to improve access to public health-care services. Randomised controlled pilot study
In this pilot study, the group DIR-based occupational therapy for toddlers with autism improved access to services and allowed earlier interventions, with no clinical inferiority to individual therapy. Further research is required to examine group clinical therapy benefit. Australian occupational therapy journal 20 February 2023

Development of stigma-related support for autistic adults: Insights from the autism community
Many autistic adults experience public stigma and some internalise this stigma with negative effects on their mental health. While efforts to reduce public stigma are paramount, change can be slow, and interventions to prevent internalised stigma may also be needed. Using a mixed methods online survey, the authors gathered the views of 144 autistic adults and parents/caregivers of autistic people in the United Kingdom on whether a stigma-related support programme for autistic adults is needed and, if so, what it should ‘look’ like. Autism 4 January 2023

Acceptance and commitment therapy for autistic adults: A randomized controlled pilot study in a psychiatric outpatient setting
Autistic adults are at risk of stress-related psychiatric disorders and reduced life quality due to social, cognitive, and perceptual challenges. Mental health interventions adapted to autistic adults are scarce. Acceptance and commitment therapy has preliminarily indicated health benefits in autistic adults, although it has not been robustly evaluated. Autism 13 December 2022 



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