Italian journal of clinical and psychoeducational research

Scientific Committee: Michele Zappella
Periodicity: january, may, october

Vol. 16, n. 2, 2018

Table of Contents

Michele Zappella

Editoriale

Ricerca internazionale

Stephen J. Blumberg Benjamin Zablotsky Rosa M. Avila Lisa J. Colpe Beverly A. Pringle Michael D. Kogan

Diagnosis lost: Differences between children who had and who currently have an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis

DOI: 10.14605/AUT1621801

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnoses sometimes change due to misdiagnosis, maturation, or treatment. This study uses a probability-based national survey — the Survey of Pathways to Diagnosis and Services — to compare currently diagnosed (n = 1,420) and previously diagnosed (n = 187) children aged 6-17 years based on retrospective parental reports of early concerns about their children’s development, responses to those concerns by doctors and other health care providers, the type of provider who made the first ASD diagnosis, and the ASD subtype diagnoses received (if any). Propensity score matching was used to control for differences between the groups on children’s current level of functioning and other current characteristics that may have been related to diagnosis loss. Approximately 13% of the children ever diagnosed with ASD were estimated to have lost the diagnosis, and parents of 74% of them believe it was changed due to new information. Previously diagnosed children were less likely to have parents with early concerns about verbal skills, nonverbal communication, learning, and unusual gestures or movements. They were also less likely to have been referred to and diagnosed by a specialist. Previously diagnosed children were less likely to have ever received a diagnosis of Asperger’s disorder or autistic disorder.

Ricerca italiana

Davide Carattino Silvano Solari Mirella Zanobini

Mental state language in autism. Evidence from a drama therapy intervention

DOI: 10.14605/AUT1621802

The IDEAS project was conceived to improve socioemotional functioning in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), through drama therapy. Drama has proved to support the development of their psychological, emotive and communicative skills, particularly those linked to Theory of Mind (TOM). The current study examines the production of mental state language among a sample of 7 boys, 5 with ASD and 2 with autistic traits. The sessions were divided into two situations: an experimental one, composed of drama activities, and a control one, where the boys played some board games. The results evidenced that the participants produced a greater number of mental state terms during the drama activities, with a more sophisticated use of these terms than those pronounced during the control situation.

Ricerca italiana

Martina Pinzino Elisa Santocchi Jessica Barsotti Gloria Scarselli Sara Calderoni Raffaella Tancredi Filippo Muratori Antonio Narzisi

Autism in families: What traits do parents and children share? A research paper in the field of the Broader Autism Phenotype (BAP)

DOI: 10.14605/AUT1621803

The Broader Autism Phenotype (BAP) is a subclinical condition, characterised by behavioural, socio-communicative, cognitive and personality-related aspects, in which individuals exhibit traits associated with the symptomological criteria of Autism Spectrum Disorders. The main aim of our research, carried out with the PAMDPS (Day Service for Pervasive Developmental Disorders) of the IRCCS Fondazione Stella Maris di Calambrone (Pisa, Italy), was to identify and assess the entity of the BAP in a population of Italian parents of children who are aged 4 to 11 and have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), using the self-report version of the psychometric scale Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ) by Baron-Cohen (2001). Results show significant correlations between the parents, mostly the fathers, and their children with ASD. Cognitive level, more than the autism in itself, is a variable that could influence these correlations. In the sub-group of parents with BAP, significant correlations were those between (1) the mother’s age and the severity of their child’s ASD, which was observed using the comparison score of ADOS-2, and (2) between the mother’s Attention to detail scale and their child’s Attention to detail scale on the AQ. The importance of identifying the characteristics of the wide phenotype in parents of children with ASD may be relevant in implementing tailored psycho-educational strategies for parents. Identifying the presence of BAP in parents could therefore prove useful for formulating parent-coaching methodologies which also take into account such similarities between parents and children.

The article presents a motor skills intervention to be implemented in small groups. Particular attention is given to collecting preliminary data in order to obtain important information about the students’ levels of development and on the environmental conditions that enhance the participants’ emission of physical activity. It also emphasises the positive effects that teaching appropriate physical activities can have on the frequency of prosocial behaviours emitted by the students in a setting different from individual intervention. Behavioural strategies such as Functional Analysis, Constant Time Delay, Task Analysis and Total Task Chaining were used to teach target motor skills. The intervention was conducted with three students aged between three and five diagnosed with developmental disorders and showed to be effective in increasing levels of physical activity and frequency of prosocial behaviours emitted by all participants.

Esperienze professionali

Silvia Bagnara Francesca Concato Luciana Brunello

Autism and intellectual disabilities: A survey of people with ASD and autistic traits in adulthood services in the province of Vicenza

DOI: 10.14605/AUT1621805

In 2014 and 2015 the Fondazione Brunello ONLUS in Vicenza, in collaboration with Unità Operativa Disabilità, carried out research in order to identify the number of people with a diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder under the care of institutes for adults with disabilities, and to find out if any specific assistance programmes are in place which take into account the peculiarities linked to the complexity of their disorder. Subsequently, a screening programme was carried out with the aim of understanding how many people with intellectual disabilities attending institutes and programmes also have autistic traits, using the STA-DI evaluation scale. This article describes the research carried out in Vicenza (Italy) and the data collected so as to promote specific training and support methodological reorganisation encouraging the typical functioning of people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.