Special Issue "Screening, Diagnosis and Early Intervention in Toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorders"

A special issue of Children (ISSN 2227-9067).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Francisco Alcantud-Marín
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Psychology, University of Valencia, Blasco Ibañez Avenue 21, 46010 Valencia, Spain
Interests: neurodevelopmental disorders; autism spectrum disorders ASD detection; ASD diagnosis; ASD early intervention; etiology of nerodevelopmental disorders; epidemiology of neurodevelopmental disorders
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Yurena Alonso-Esteban
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Educational Psychology, (UNED) National University of Distance Education, Casa de la Misericòrdia 34, 46014 València, Spain
Interests: developmental delay; autism spectrum disorders; early intervention; training of parents and caregivers; screening tools
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear colleagues,

According to the latest data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of ASD in the USA is 1/68. At the international level, both the WHO and the UN have described the increase in the prevalence of ASD as a public health problem.

Today, the causes of ASD are still unknown. Although much work is being done to determine some biological markers or consistent neurological imaging patterns, today the disorder is still diagnosed or detected using psychometric tools based on behavioral observation.

The importance of early detection (before three years of age) is due to the possibility of initiating an early intervention, which can result in an attenuation of the severity of the symptoms of ASD, and as a consequence ensure better school and social integration, decreasing the family and social cost of the disorder.

If neuropsychological development is determined by interaction with the environment, and ASDs are characterized by deficits in communication and social interaction, among other symptoms, communication patterns and social interaction with parents are affected by stress and can consequently cause negative effects in terms of the neuropsychological development of the child, producing a cascade effect. An early intervention with the appropriate scaffolding for the parents and the child would allow an attenuation of these cascade effects, allowing the development of the ASD child to more closely resemble typical development, since it benefits from the greater cerebral plasticity of very young children.

The necessary work to evaluate new tools or methods of detection and early intervention must necessarily be developed in interdisciplinary teams (involving pediatricians, psychologists, engineers, educators and many other professionals). The development of new knowledge around ASD requires a large amount of resources, so international collaboration is more necessary than ever.

Fortunately, considerable advances have been made in recent years in screening, diagnosis and ASD intervention around the globe. This Special Issue, “Screening, Diagnosis and Intervention in ASD”, is dedicated to describing the existing gaps and highlighting the achievements made in research, clinical care to toddlers and your fathers, professional training of clinical and teacher, etc... Both reviews and original research will be considered for publication.

We are looking forward to receiving your contributions.

Prof. Francisco Alcantud Marín
Prof. Yurena Alonso-Esteban
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Children is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • neuropsychology of ASD
  • screening ASD
  • diagnosis criteria
  • early intervention method (ABA method, Denver, DIR Floor-time)
  • parent training

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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Article
Capacity of the CCC-2 to Discriminate ASD from Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Children 2021, 8(8), 640; https://doi.org/10.3390/children8080640 - 27 Jul 2021
Viewed by 330
Abstract
The Children’s Communication Checklist (CCC-2) has demonstrated its usefulness as an instrument to assess discrepancies between the use of structural dimensions of language and the pragmatic and sociointeractive uses of language. The aims of the present paper are: (1) to test the capacity [...] Read more.
The Children’s Communication Checklist (CCC-2) has demonstrated its usefulness as an instrument to assess discrepancies between the use of structural dimensions of language and the pragmatic and sociointeractive uses of language. The aims of the present paper are: (1) to test the capacity of the Galician adaptation of the CCC-2 to discriminate the linguistic profiles of children with different disorders and (2) to test whether the capacity of the CCC-2 to discriminate the linguistic abilities of children with different disorders is the same at different ages: earlier development and later development. The sample is of 117 children previously diagnosed with different disorders: autism spectrum disorder (ASD), developmental language disorder (DLD), attention deficit with hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Down syndrome children (DS) and typically developing children (TD). The children were divided into two different age groups: from 4 to 6 and from 7 to 16 years of age. The results indicate that the Galician CCC-2 (1) accurately identified children with and without communicative impairments, (2) distinguished between profiles with a predominance of pragmatic (ASD and ADHD) and structural disorders (DS and DLD) and (3) distinguished between different profiles of pragmatic impairment. The CCC-2 equally identified these profiles at both earlier and later ages. The Galician CCC-2 seems to be a useful instrument for differentiating among different clinical groups and for assessing pragmatic disorders from an early age, which can be valuable for planning early intervention. Full article
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Article
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Self Compassion (SC) Training for Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Pilot Trial in Community Services in Spain
Children 2021, 8(5), 316; https://doi.org/10.3390/children8050316 - 21 Apr 2021
Viewed by 809
Abstract
This study aims to develop a clinical trial to test the efficacy of a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and self-compassion (SC) program on self-reported values of anxiety, depression, and stress in parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in primary school, in [...] Read more.
This study aims to develop a clinical trial to test the efficacy of a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and self-compassion (SC) program on self-reported values of anxiety, depression, and stress in parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in primary school, in order to assess their integration into the framework of community intervention programs in Spain. Methods: A brief 8-week training program using mindfulness-based intervention (MBSR) and self-compassion (SC) has been applied to twelve Valencian ASD parents, ten of whom completed the program. Participants were assigned to two groups; both groups received the same treatment but at two different measurement moments. Depression, anxiety, stress, satisfaction with life and mindful attention awareness measurements were performed, in all participants, in three testing stages. Results: Analysis of variance results suggested that MBSR and SC training reduces stress and anxiety and increases mindful attention awareness. No significant changes were found in life satisfaction measurements. Conclusions: The small number of participants prevents us from generalizing the results found. More MBSR and SC clinical trials are needed in parents of ASD with results on anxiety, depression and stress in order to demonstrate the relevance of the inclusion of these programs in community-based early intervention services. Full article
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Review

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Review
Symbolic Play among Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Scoping Review
Children 2021, 8(9), 801; https://doi.org/10.3390/children8090801 - 12 Sep 2021
Viewed by 401
Abstract
Symbolic play is considered an early indicator in the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and its assessment. The objective of this study was to analyze the difficulties in symbolic play experienced by children with ASD and to determine the existence of differences [...] Read more.
Symbolic play is considered an early indicator in the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and its assessment. The objective of this study was to analyze the difficulties in symbolic play experienced by children with ASD and to determine the existence of differences in symbolic play among children with ASD, children with other neurodevelopmental disorders and children with typical development. A scoping review was carried out in the Web of Science (WoS), Scopus, ERIC, and PsycInfo databases, following the extension for scoping reviews of the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement. The number of papers included in the review was 22. The results confirm that children with ASD have greater difficulties with symbolic play than children with other neurodevelopmental disorders and children with typical development, even when controlling for their verbal age. Difficulties are greater in situations of free or spontaneous play. Results evidenced that the absence or deficiency in the symbolic play can serve as an early indicator of ASD between the first and second year of life, the developmental moment in which this type of play begins. Full article
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Review
Diagnostic Tools for Autism Spectrum Disorders by Gender: Analysis of Current Status and Future Lines
Children 2021, 8(4), 262; https://doi.org/10.3390/children8040262 - 29 Mar 2021
Viewed by 874
Abstract
Studies on the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders have shown gender disproportion. In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in this investigation area. There are two main research lines; the first is focused mostly on gender-related biological reasons that could account [...] Read more.
Studies on the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders have shown gender disproportion. In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in this investigation area. There are two main research lines; the first is focused mostly on gender-related biological reasons that could account for low ASD prevalence in women (i.e., related to some protective factors related to hormones or the immune system, among others), and the second research line studies possible diagnostic biases. In the present study, a review of the latter line of research is made based on two main objectives: (a) analysis of possible biases in diagnostic tools and (b) other nonbiological ASD prevalence explained by gender differences. As a result of our theoretical review, we found that the articles reviewed showed contradictory results and possible diagnostic biases, not only in their design but also in their assessment standards. We concluded that specific or complementary diagnostic tools and procedures differentiated by gender should be developed in order to reduce these biases. Full article
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Review
Detection of Early Warning Signs in Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Systematic Review
Children 2021, 8(2), 164; https://doi.org/10.3390/children8020164 - 22 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 964
Abstract
Due to the exponential increase of autism spectrum disorders’ prevalence in Western countries, it is necessary to improve early detection and intervention to enhance developmental milestones. This systematic review identified the most effective screening instrument, which can be used at an early age [...] Read more.
Due to the exponential increase of autism spectrum disorders’ prevalence in Western countries, it is necessary to improve early detection and intervention to enhance developmental milestones. This systematic review identified the most effective screening instrument, which can be used at an early age and which identifies the maximum number of autism cases. We identified several instruments with adequate predictive properties—the Autism Parent Screen for Infants (APSI), Battelle Development Inventory, second edition (BDI-2); Brief Infant-Toddler Social and Emotional Assessment (BITSEA); First Year Inventory (FYI); Infant-Toddler Checklist/Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales Developmental Profile (ITC/CSBS-DP); Program of Research and Studies on AUTISM (PREAUT-Grid); Checklist for Early Signs of Developmental Disorders (CESDD); Social Attention and Communication Study (SACS); and the Screening Tool for Autism in Toddlers and Young Children (STAT)—that can be applied from 12 months of age in Western countries. The ITC/CSBS-DP has been proposed for universal screening from 12 months of age onwards, complemented by the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers, Revised/Revised with Follow-Up (M-CHAT-R/F), which can be used from 15 months of age onwards. This strategy could improve early detection in at-risk children within the current health system, thus allowing for early intervention. Full article
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Review
Information and Communication Technologies to Support Early Screening of Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Systematic Review
Children 2021, 8(2), 93; https://doi.org/10.3390/children8020093 - 01 Feb 2021
Viewed by 817
Abstract
The aim of this systematic review is to identify recent digital technologies used to detect early signs of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in preschool children (i.e., up to six years of age). A systematic literature search was performed for English language articles and [...] Read more.
The aim of this systematic review is to identify recent digital technologies used to detect early signs of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in preschool children (i.e., up to six years of age). A systematic literature search was performed for English language articles and conference papers indexed in Pubmed, PsycInfo, ERIC, CINAHL, WoS, IEEE, and ACM digital libraries up until January 2020. A follow-up search was conducted to cover the literature published until December 2020 for the usefulness and interest in this area of research during the Covid-19 emergency. In total, 2427 articles were initially retrieved from databases search. Additional 481 articles were retrieved from follow-up search. Finally, 28 articles met the inclusion criteria and were included in the review. The studies included involved four main interface modalities: Natural User Interface (e.g., eye trackers), PC or mobile, Wearable, and Robotics. Most of the papers included (n = 20) involved the use of Level 1 screening tools. Notwithstanding the variability of the solutions identified, psychometric information points to considering available technologies as promising supports in clinical practice to detect early sign of ASD in young children. Further research is needed to understand the acceptability and increase use rates of technology-based screenings in clinical settings. Full article
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Review
Early Intervention with Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Review of Programs
Children 2020, 7(12), 294; https://doi.org/10.3390/children7120294 - 15 Dec 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1530
Abstract
The aim of this article was to analyze the evidence regarding the effectiveness of intervention programs for children with autism based on the participation of their parents. To obtain the data, a systematic search was carried out in four databases (PsycARTICLES (ProQuest), ERIC [...] Read more.
The aim of this article was to analyze the evidence regarding the effectiveness of intervention programs for children with autism based on the participation of their parents. To obtain the data, a systematic search was carried out in four databases (PsycARTICLES (ProQuest), ERIC (ProQuest), PubMed (ProQuest), and Scopus). The retrieved documents were refined under the inclusion/exclusion criteria, and a total of 51 empirical studies were selected. These studies were first classified according to the function of the intervention objective and, later, by the methodology applied (19 studies were based on comprehensive interventions, 11 focused on the nuclear symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), 12 focused on the promotion of positive parenting, and nine interactions focused on child play). Once all of the documents had been analyzed, the evidence indicated scientific efficacy in most studies, mainly in those based on child development and the application of behavioral analysis principles. Moreover, the positive influence of parent participation in such programs was demonstrated. Full article
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