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Special Issue "Mental Healthcare and Autism"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2017)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Andrew Cashin

School of Health and Human Sciences, Southern Cross University, P.O. Box 157, Lismore, NSW 2480, Australia
Website | E-Mail
Interests: mental healthcare for people with autism, over regulated behavior in autism and the impact of this on adaptation in crisis and transitions. Health policy

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are organizing a Special Issue on mental healthcare and autism in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The venue is a peer-reviewed scientific journal that publishes articles and communications in the interdisciplinary area of environmental health sciences and public health. For detailed information on the journal, we refer you to https://www.mdpi.com/journal/ijerph.

Working with people with autism on improving their health and well being is important at the individual level, but also as a public health measure given that a significant proportion, in excess of one percent, of the population has an Autism Spectrum Disorder. People with autism have a markedly different thinking and information processing style than their neurotypical counterparts. The experience of anxiety and depression is common for people with autism and results in behaviours, which impede adaptation and often cause distress for them and those who care for and work with them. People with autism have a relative deficit in recognising, labelling and thinking about feelings, but still experience them and are influenced by them often without making the connection. Mental healthcare is of great importance in this population in order to promote wellbeing and allow full participation in society. As a public health measure this benefits society as people are exposed to a different way of experiencing the world and society as a collective benefits from the optimum productivity of this group of people.

This Special Issue is open to any subject area related to mental healthcare for people with autism and understanding the link between feelings and behaviour in this group of people.

Prof. Dr. Andrew Cashin
Guest Editor

Keywords

  • Autism
  • ASD
  • Psychosis
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Transitions
  • Public health
  • Quality of life
  • Social participation
  • Therapy
  • Health economics

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Impact of Diagnostic Practices on the Self-Reported Health of Mothers of Recently Diagnosed Children with ASD
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(9), 888; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph13090888
Received: 20 June 2016 / Revised: 15 August 2016 / Accepted: 2 September 2016 / Published: 7 September 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (284 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Objectives: Obtaining a diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) for a child is a pivotal point in developing the treatment plan for the child but can also be regarded as highly stressful by parents. The current study examined the impact of [...] Read more.
Objectives: Obtaining a diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) for a child is a pivotal point in developing the treatment plan for the child but can also be regarded as highly stressful by parents. The current study examined the impact of different aspects of the diagnosis process on the self-reported mental health of mothers of children undergoing a diagnosis for ASD in a cross-sectional cohort design. Methods: One-hundred-fifty-eight mothers of consequently diagnosed children with ASD participated. The severity of the children’s ASD and their intellectual functioning was assessed within twelve months of the diagnosis, and the mothers completed a psychometric assessment battery including the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, General Health Questionnaire, and Questionnaire on Resources and Stress. Results: The actual time from first reporting a problem to obtaining a diagnosis, and the speed of the diagnostic process from first to last appointment, were both negatively related to patenting stress. In contrast, mothers’ perceptions of the speed and helpfulness of the process were negatively related to levels of anxiety and depression. The number of professionals involved in the process and the perceived coherence of the diagnosis were also negatively related to aspects of mothers’ functioning. Conclusions: Care is needed to help mothers through the diagnostic process with regard to their own functioning. Providing information and help sources throughout the process, while keeping the number of professionals involved to a minimum, may improve the parent perception of the process and reduce the negative impacts of the diagnosis on the family as a whole. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Healthcare and Autism)
Open AccessArticle Staff Training in Autism: The One-Eyed Wo/Man…
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(7), 716; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph13070716
Received: 5 May 2016 / Revised: 8 July 2016 / Accepted: 12 July 2016 / Published: 16 July 2016
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (892 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Having well-trained staff is key to ensuring good quality autism services, especially since people affected with autism generally tend to have higher support needs than other populations in terms of daily living, as well as their mental and physical health. Poorly-trained staff can [...] Read more.
Having well-trained staff is key to ensuring good quality autism services, especially since people affected with autism generally tend to have higher support needs than other populations in terms of daily living, as well as their mental and physical health. Poorly-trained staff can have detrimental effects on service provision and staff morale and can lead to staff burn-out, as well as increased service user anxiety and stress. This paper reports on a survey with health, social care, and education staff who work within the statutory autism services sector in the UK that explored their knowledge and training with regards to autism. Interview data obtained from staff and service users offer qualitative illustrations of survey findings. Overall, the findings expose an acute lack of autism-specific training that has detrimental impacts. At best, this training was based on brief and very basic awareness raising rather than on in-depth understanding of issues related to autism or skills for evidence-based practice. Service users were concerned with the effects that the lack of staff training had on the services they received. The paper concludes with a discussion of policy routes to achieving quality staff training based on international best practice. The focus is on improving the quality of life and mental health for services users and staff, as well as making potentially significant cost-savings for governments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Healthcare and Autism)
Figures

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Open AccessArticle Simultaneous Training for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Their Parents with a Focus on Social Skills Enhancement
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(6), 590; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph13060590
Received: 8 February 2016 / Revised: 27 May 2016 / Accepted: 7 June 2016 / Published: 14 June 2016
PDF Full-text (1579 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The objective of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of simultaneous training for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their parents, with a focus on social skills enhancement (STSSE) by evaluating behavioral changes in children with ASD and changes in family [...] Read more.
The objective of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of simultaneous training for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their parents, with a focus on social skills enhancement (STSSE) by evaluating behavioral changes in children with ASD and changes in family functioning. STSSE was conducted on 17 children of elementary school age with ASD and their parents. Changes in scores on the social skills scale for education (SS-scale), the child behavior checklist, the Feetham Family Functioning Survey (FFFS), and the confidence degree questionnaire for families (CDQ) were used to assess the effectiveness of STSSE. Improvements were seen for “Communication Skills” on the children’s SS-scale (p = 0.029). Significant improvements were seen in the mothers’ FFFS scores for “The 4th factor: illness and worries” (p = 0.016) and in the median CDQ scores for one of 18 items after STSSE (p = 0.01). Although additional studies with larger sample sizes will be necessary before these findings are generalizable, the positive changes seen in both parents and children as a result of STSSE are promising. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Healthcare and Autism)
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Figure 1

Open AccessArticle An Autistic Endophenotype and Testosterone Are Involved in an Atypical Decline in Selective Attention and Visuospatial Processing in Middle-Aged Women
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(12), 15960-15966; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph121215033
Received: 21 October 2015 / Revised: 3 December 2015 / Accepted: 11 December 2015 / Published: 15 December 2015
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (183 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Mothers of offspring with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) could present mild forms of their children’s cognitive characteristics, resulting from prenatal brain exposure and sensitivity to testosterone (T). Indeed, their cognition is frequently characterized by hyper-systemizing, outperforming in tests that assess cognitive domains such [...] Read more.
Mothers of offspring with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) could present mild forms of their children’s cognitive characteristics, resulting from prenatal brain exposure and sensitivity to testosterone (T). Indeed, their cognition is frequently characterized by hyper-systemizing, outperforming in tests that assess cognitive domains such as selective attention, and fine motor and visuospatial skills. In the general population, all these start to decline around the mid-forties. This study aimed to characterize whether middle-aged women who are biological mothers of individuals with ASD had better performance in the aforementioned cognitive skills than mothers of normative children (in both groups n = 22; mean age = 45), using the standardized Stroop and mirror-drawing tests. We also examined the role of T in their performance in the aforementioned tests. ASD mothers outperformed controls in both tests, giving more correct answers and making fewer mistakes. In addition, they presented higher T levels, which have been associated with better cognitive performance. Cognitive decline in specific skills with aging could be delayed in these middle-aged women, corresponding to a cognitive endophenotype, T playing an important role in this process. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Healthcare and Autism)
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health EISSN 1660-4601 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
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