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Helping Autistic Children Manage the School Christmas Play

Christmas time in school can be difficult for children with additional needs, changes in routine and new experiences can be hard to manage. Here is some advice from Its a Tink Thing with ideas for helping autistic children to be included in the Christmas play.

Christmas photo 1495318_541193059305224_1470605699_o

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Research Update: Early alterations of social brain networks in young children with autism

In this study, the researchers were able to suggest that there are “frequency specific alterations in the driving of information flow from brain areas implicated in social information processing during the viewing of naturalistic dynamic social images in toddlers and preschool with ASD” and that these occur in the early stages of ASD. These findings support the clinical experience of OT’s and others doing ASI with this client group, that early intervention is critical. The study continues to recommend further studies into social orienting skills as a way of perhaps remediating social brain development while neural plasticity is most optimal.

Wouldn’t it be great if the results we see in clinical practice of ASI, helping children better orientate, attend and respond to sensory input including social cues, studied as a possible intervention in response to this study?

Here is a copy of the abstract and link to the full article.

Social impairments are a hallmark of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), but empirical evidence for early brain network alterations in response to social stimuli is scant in ASD. We recorded the gaze patterns and brain activity of toddlers with ASD and their typically developing peers while they explored dynamic social scenes. Directed functional connectivity analyses based on electrical source imaging revealed frequency specific network atypicalities in the theta and alpha frequency bands, manifesting as alterations in both the driving and the connections from key nodes of the social brain associated with autism. Analyses of brain-behavioural relationships within the ASD group suggested that compensatory mechanisms from dorsomedial frontal, inferior temporal and insular cortical regions were associated with less atypical gaze patterns and lower clinical impairment. Our results provide strong evidence that directed functional connectivity alterations of social brain networks is a core component of atypical brain development at early stages of ASD.

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Dyslexia and Sensory Processing, is there a link?

Dyslexics show a difference in sensory processing

In 2016 Neuroscientists discovered that a basic mechanism underlying sensory perception is deficient in individuals with dyslexia. The brain typically adapts rapidly to sensory input, such as the sound of a person’s voice or images of faces and objects, as a way to make processing more efficient. But for individuals with dyslexia, the researchers found that adaptation was on average about half that of those without the disorder.
“Dysfunction of Rapid Neural Adaptation in Dyslexia” by Tyler K. Perrachione, Stephanie N. Del Tufo, Rebecca Winter, Jack Murtagh, Abigail Cyr, Patricia Chang, Kelly Halverson, Satrajit S. Ghosh, Joanna A. Christodoulou, and John D.E. Gabrieli was published in Neuron online December 21 2016 doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2016.11.020
Another study by Jaffe-Dax, Frenkel & Ahissar was published in 2017 in eLife6, e20557. ; “Dyslexics’ faster decay of implicit memory for sounds and words is manifested in their shorter neural adaptation”.
Dyslexia is a reading disability, although why it happens is still not understood.  In the 2017 study, they studied if neural mechanisms underlying dyslexia could be explored using a simple frequency-discrimination task. Participants were asked to compare two tones in each trial – and the study was devised to explore if implicit memory of previous trials affected their responses. They had hypothesized that implicit memory decays faster among dyslexics.
People with dyslexia showed a faster decay of implicit memory effects. They discovered that faster decay of implicit memory also characterised the impact of sound regularities in benefitting dyslexics’ oral reading rate. The study suggests that people with dyslexia had a shorter neural adaptation, with is in contrast to their longer reading times. They hypothesised this is because it reduces their temporal window of integration of past stimuli, resulting in noisier and less reliable predictions for both simple and complex stimuli.