Publications by authors named "Leann Smith DaWalt"

25 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Change in Behavior Problems from Childhood Through Adolescence for Children with Fragile X Syndrome.

J Autism Dev Disord 2021 Sep 18. Epub 2021 Sep 18.

University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USA.

In this study, we examined trajectories of specific domains of behavior problems (i.e., attention problems, depression/anxiety, and aggressive behavior) from age 6 to 18 in a sample of 55 children with fragile X syndrome. We also examined autism status and early parenting as predictors of subsequent behavioral trajectories. We found that attention problems and aggressive behavior declined steadily from childhood through adolescence whereas anxious/depressed behavior demonstrated relative stability over the same period. Youth with highly flexible mothers displayed more optional trajectories of improvement in attention problems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10803-021-05270-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8449523PMC
September 2021

Development, Feasibility, and Acceptability of a Nationally Relevant Parent Training to Improve Service Access During the Transition to Adulthood for Youth with ASD.

J Autism Dev Disord 2021 Jul 7. Epub 2021 Jul 7.

Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, USA.

Many youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) face challenges accessing needed services as they transition to adulthood. The present study describes the development, feasibility and acceptability of a new intervention designed to teach parents of transition-aged youth with ASD about the adult service system and the most effective ways to access services and supports. As part of a randomized-controlled trial, the intervention-named ASSIST-was delivered to 91 participants in three states in the U.S. Results suggested that ASSIST is feasible and acceptable to participants. Though intended to be an in-person group-based program, due to COVID-19 restrictions ASSIST was primarily delivered online. Results and discussion explore the trade-offs and implications of these different treatment delivery modalities in relation to ASSIST.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10803-021-05128-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8262127PMC
July 2021

Health profiles of adults with autism spectrum disorder: Differences between women and men.

Autism Res 2021 Sep 2;14(9):1896-1904. Epub 2021 Jul 2.

Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.

The purpose of the present study was to investigate the hypothesis that women with autism have poorer health compared with men with autism, and compared with women without autism. Utilizing electronic health records drawn from a single health care system serving over 2 million individuals, 2119 adults with diagnosed autism spectrum disorders were compared with age- and sex-matched controls. When considering health care utilization, we found evidence of multiplicative risk for conditions within some domains (i.e., nutrition conditions, neurologic disease, psychiatric conditions, and sleep disorders) such that women with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experienced double jeopardy-meaning they had greater rates of health care utilization within a domain than what would separately be expected by virtue of being a woman and having ASD. For other domains (i.e., endocrine disorders, gastrointestinal disorders), the risk was additive such that being a female and having ASD were both associated with higher health care utilization, but there were no significant interaction effects. It was only with respect to one domain (cardiovascular) that rates of health care utilization were reflective of neither ASD diagnosis nor sex. Overall, our findings suggest that women with ASD are a vulnerable subgroup with high levels of health care utilization. LAY SUMMARY: This study asked whether women with autism have poorer health compared with men with autism, and compared with women without autism. To answer this question, we used data from electronic health records. We found that women with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) were at the greatest risk for health problems such as nutrition conditions, neurologic disease, psychiatric conditions, and sleep disorders. More research on health of women with ASD is needed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/aur.2563DOI Listing
September 2021

Verbal Ability, Behavior Problems, and Mother-Child Relationship Quality in Autism Spectrum Disorder.

J Autism Dev Disord 2021 Jun 15. Epub 2021 Jun 15.

Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, USA.

This study examined differences in mother-child relationship quality and parent-rated child behavior problems based on child verbal status (i.e., minimally verbal versus verbal) in mothers and their adolescent and adult children with autism spectrum disorder (n = 219 dyads; child M = 25.38 years, SD = 10.22). Relationship quality was assessed via parent-reported maternal burden and mother-child closeness, and coded speech samples ascertaining maternal critical and positive remarks regarding the child. Groups did not differ in relationship quality. The verbal group was more likely to display disruptive and socially inappropriate behaviors, but otherwise the groups did not differ in behavior problems. Verbal status moderated the relationship between behavior problems and negative (maternal burden, critical remarks) but not positive (mother-child closeness, positive remarks) aspects of relationship quality.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10803-021-05133-2DOI Listing
June 2021

Stress and genetics influence hair cortisol in FMR1 premutation carrier mothers of children with fragile X syndrome.

Psychoneuroendocrinology 2021 Jul 13;129:105266. Epub 2021 May 13.

Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States.

To investigate genetic and environmental influences on cortisol levels, mothers of children with fragile X syndrome (FXS) were studied four times over a 7.5-year period. All participants (n = 84) were carriers of the FMR1 "premutation", a genetic condition associated with impaired HPA axis functioning. Genetic variation was indicated by expansions in the number of CGG (cytosine-guanine-guanine) repeats in the FMR1 gene (67-138 repeats in the present sample). The environmental factor was cumulative exposure to adverse life events during the study period. Cortisol was measured at the beginning of the study via saliva samples and at the end of the study via hair samples; hormone values from these two specimen types were significantly correlated. The interactions between CGG repeat number and adverse life events significantly predicted hair cortisol concentration, including after accounting for the initial salivary cortisol level. For those with fewer CGG repeats, stress exposure was associated with elevated cortisol, the expected response to stress, although women with a higher number of CGGs had a reduced cortisol response to adverse events, which might be related to HPA dysfunction. These results indicate that both exogenous and endogenous factors affect HPA functioning in this population of women.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2021.105266DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8217368PMC
July 2021

Artificial intelligence-assisted phenotype discovery of fragile X syndrome in a population-based sample.

Genet Med 2021 07 26;23(7):1273-1280. Epub 2021 Mar 26.

Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA.

Purpose: Fragile X syndrome (FXS), the most prevalent inherited cause of intellectual disability, remains underdiagnosed in the general population. Clinical studies have shown that individuals with FXS have a complex health profile leading to unique clinical needs. However, the full impact of this X-linked disorder on the health of affected individuals is unclear and the prevalence of co-occurring conditions is unknown.

Methods: We mined the longitudinal electronic health records from more than one million individuals to investigate the health characteristics of patients who have been clinically diagnosed with FXS. Additionally, using machine-learning approaches, we created predictive models to identify individuals with FXS in the general population.

Results: Our discovery-oriented approach identified the associations of FXS with a wide range of medical conditions including circulatory, endocrine, digestive, and genitourinary, in addition to mental and neurological disorders. We successfully created predictive models to identify cases five years prior to clinical diagnosis of FXS without relying on any genetic or familial data.

Conclusion: Although FXS is often thought of primarily as a neurological disorder, it is in fact a multisystem syndrome involving many co-occurring conditions, some primary and some secondary, and they are associated with a considerable burden on patients and their families.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41436-021-01144-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8257481PMC
July 2021

Brief Report: Socioeconomic Factors Associated with Minimally Verbal Status in Individuals with ASD.

J Autism Dev Disord 2021 Jun;51(6):2139-2145

Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1500 Highland Ave., Madison, WI, 53705, USA.

About 30% of adults with autism are minimally verbal. Past research suggested that after age five, few gain verbal fluency, but studies have rarely investigated whether family environmental factors contribute to the acquisition of verbal fluency. The present study utilized data from the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised to compare changes in verbal fluency for 404 individuals with autism from childhood to adolescence and adulthood. Socioeconomic factors were examined across fluency groups (i.e., those who did/did not achieve verbal fluency). Findings indicated that fully 60% of those who were minimally verbal in early childhood acquired verbal fluency in adolescence and adulthood. Parent socioeconomic status differed across fluency groups, suggesting the importance of environmental factors for individual development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10803-020-04646-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7943642PMC
June 2021

Sex Differences in Social Participation of High School Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Autism Res 2020 12 2;13(12):2155-2163. Epub 2020 Sep 2.

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.

There is lack of consensus in the literature regarding sex differences in social outcomes for individuals on the autism spectrum. Furthermore, little research has focused on the social experiences of high school students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) during the school day. Using a large racially/ethnically diverse sample of high school students with ASD receiving special education services (n = 547; 76 females, 471 males), we examined sex differences in social interactions of youth both during and after school. We also tested for sex differences in background and phenotypic characteristics including autism severity, IQ, adaptive behavior, and mental health. Results indicated few statistically significant differences between males and females in social interactions and phenotypic characteristics (including raw scores of autism symptom severity). However, analysis of standardized scores of autism symptoms suggested that symptom scores for females with ASD diverged more from same-sex peers in the normed sample than scores of males with ASD. Lack of sex difference in social participation for youth with ASD in this study stands in contrast to patterns of sex differences in the general population. Findings suggest that few differences between males and females with ASD, both in social participation and autism symptom severity, might result in females with ASD being more dissimilar to their same-sex peers than males with ASD. Implications of findings for understanding sex differences in ASD across the life course are discussed. LAY SUMMARY: The present study examined sex differences in social participation in a large, diverse sample of high school students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Males and females were very similar in their social interactions both at school and outside of school, based on reports by teachers and parents. Level of autism symptoms was also similar for males and females. However, standardized scores of autism symptoms, which take into account age and sex specific norms, suggested that females with ASD may have behaviors that are more divergent from their same-sex peers than males with ASD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/aur.2348DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7749043PMC
December 2020

Student, Educator, and Parent Perspectives of Self-Determination in High School Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Autism Res 2020 12 2;13(12):2164-2176. Epub 2020 Aug 2.

Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.

Self-determination refers to an individual being a causal agent in their daily activities, including the ability to express their own needs, interests, and wants, make choices, and set goals. Self-determination is critical during adolescence and has been linked to positive educational outcomes in individuals with disabilities. Few studies have characterized the measurement of self-determination in adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The purpose of the current study was to (a) examine the agreement across the American Institutes for Research Self-Determination Scale (Wolman et al., AIR Self-determination scale and user guide. Palo Alto, CA: American Institute for Research, 1994) student, educator, and parent forms for high school students with ASD, and (b) examine student and family predictors of self-determination. Participants included adolescents with ASD (N = 547, mean chronological age = 16.1 years, SD = 1.4 years), their parents, and educators. Student reports did not correspond to parent or educator reports, and parent and educator reports were in moderate agreement. Adaptive behavior was a significant predictor of self-determination across reporters, highlighting the significance of adaptive behavior skills during high school. In addition to promoting adaptive behavior, supporting family empowerment, and reducing family burden may help to increase self-determination in high school students with ASD. LAY SUMMARY: Self-determination refers to the abilities and opportunities for students to make choices, plans, and set goals. The current study examined self-determination from multiple perspectives in a large, diverse sample of high school students with ASD. Students, parents, and their teachers each completed a questionnaire on self-determination and had little to some agreement across reporters. Providing support to families and help for students to increase independent skills may promote self-determination.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/aur.2337DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7781162PMC
December 2020

Low Zone CGG Repeats: Phenotypic Associations in the Context of Parenting Stress.

Front Pediatr 2020 14;8:223. Epub 2020 May 14.

Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, United States.

The gene on the X chromosome has varying numbers of CGG repeats. The modal number is 30, and expansion to >200 results in fragile X syndrome, but the copy number extends down to 6. Past research suggests that individuals whose CGGs are in the "low zone" (LZ; defined here as ≤ 25 CGGs) may be more environmentally-reactive than those with normal range repeats (26-40 CGGs)-a gene x environment interaction. Using a population-based DNA biobank, in our primary analysis we compared 96 mothers with LZ CGG repeats on both alleles to 280 mothers who had CGG repeats in the normal range. Secondarily, we conducted parallel analyses on fathers. We investigated how parents in these two CGG repeat categories differentially responded to stress, defined as parenting a child with disabilities. Significant gene x environment interactions indicated that LZ mothers who had children with disabilities had greater limitations (in executive functioning, depression, anxiety, daily health symptoms, and balance) than LZ mothers whose children did not have disabilities. In contrast, mothers with normal-range CGG repeats did not differ based on stress exposure. For fathers, a similar pattern was evident for one phenotype only (hand tremors). Although on average LZ CGGs are not associated with compromised functioning, the average masks differential response to the environment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fped.2020.00223DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7240007PMC
May 2020

Data-driven phenotype discovery of premutation carriers in a population-based sample.

Sci Adv 2019 08 21;5(8):eaaw7195. Epub 2019 Aug 21.

Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA.

The impact of the premutation on human health is the subject of considerable controversy. A fundamental unanswered question is whether carrying the premutation allele is directly correlated with clinical phenotypes. A challenging problem in past genotype-phenotype studies of the premutation is ascertainment bias, which could lead to invalid research conclusions and negatively affect clinical practice. Here, we created the first population-based -informed biobank to find the pattern of health characteristics in premutation carriers. Our extensive phenotyping shows that premutation carriers experience a clinical profile that is significantly different from controls and is evident throughout adulthood. Comprehensive understanding of the clinical risk associated with this genetic variant is critical for premutation carriers, their families, and clinicians and has important implications for public health.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aaw7195DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6703870PMC
August 2019

Conversational Language Is a Predictor of Vocational Independence and Friendships in Adults with ASD.

J Autism Dev Disord 2019 Oct;49(10):4294-4305

Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, 53705, USA.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder, impacting social communication and in some individuals, aspects of language such as vocabulary diversity. However, we have only a limited understanding of the verbal language abilities of adults with ASD. The present longitudinal study examined conversational language and its impact on vocational independence and friendship status measured 5 years later in a sample of 84 adults with ASD. After controlling for IQ and childhood language, vocabulary diversity (a measure of structural language) predicted vocational independence and having friendships, while topic maintenance (a measure of social communication) predicted friendships. These findings highlight the importance of adult conversational language abilities for adult outcomes and quality of life.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10803-019-04147-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7011355PMC
October 2019

The Cultural Adaptation of a Transition Program for Latino Families of Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Fam Process 2020 06 7;59(2):477-491. Epub 2019 Mar 7.

University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI.

During the transition to adulthood, effective and culturally relevant supports are critical for families of youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). There is a dearth of documented program development and research on supports for Spanish-speaking Latino families during this life stage. The present work describes the cultural adaptation process of an evidence-based transition program for Latino families of youth with ASD. A model of the actions necessary to meaningfully conduct a cultural adaptation in this context is described. After implementing the culturally adapted program titled Juntos en la Transición with five Spanish-speaking families, parents reported high social validity of the program through surveys and interviews. The cultural adaptation process followed in this work is important for the further development of programs that address the transition needs of Latino youth with ASD and their families. Our impressions may also be useful to those who aim to develop culturally sensitive and ecologically valid multifamily group intervention programs for families from cultural and linguistic minority groups.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/famp.12439DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7191653PMC
June 2020

Mortality in individuals with autism spectrum disorder: Predictors over a 20-year period.

Autism 2019 10 28;23(7):1732-1739. Epub 2019 Feb 28.

University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.

Research has shown that individuals with autism spectrum disorder have higher rates of health problems throughout childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, and that this may result in elevated risk of early mortality. This study reported the rate, timing, and causes of death in a large community-based cohort of adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorder ( = 406) over a 20-year period (1998-2018) and identified predictors of mortality. Over this period, 6.4% of individuals died at an average age of 39 years. Causes of death included chronic conditions (such as cancer and heart disease), accidents (such as choking on food and accidental poisoning), and health complications due to medication side effects. Even after controlling for age and health status, significant predictors of mortality were early childhood levels of impairments in social reciprocity and high levels of functional impairments at the start of the study period. The results suggest the importance of social engagement and functional self-sufficiency across the life course, as well as adequate access to health care for individuals with autism spectrum disorder.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1362361319827412DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6713622PMC
October 2019

Sex differences in employment and supports for adults with autism spectrum disorder.

Autism 2019 10 7;23(7):1711-1719. Epub 2019 Feb 7.

3 Kennedy Krieger Institute, USA.

This study explored sex differences in employment, reasons for unemployment, benefits, and supports among a large, international sample of adults with autism spectrum disorder. The sample included 443 adults with autism spectrum disorder (60% female; 74% residing in the United States) who consented to be part of an autism research registry and completed an Internet survey. Outcome variables included current employment status, number of hours working, number of jobs in the past 5 years, reasons for unemployment, as well as the number of benefits received and the amount of financial support currently being received from families of origin. Using multiple regression models, we found that males and females were working at similar rates. Females were more likely than males to say that their unemployment was a result of choosing to withdraw from the labor market. Similar percentages of males and females reported receiving some form of benefits or family support, but of those receiving benefits/family support, males received more than females. These results are consistent with other studies finding subtle, but potentially important sex differences in life-course outcomes of individuals with autism spectrum disorder.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1362361319827417DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6685759PMC
October 2019

Growth mixture models of adaptive behavior in adolescents with autism spectrum disorder.

Autism 2019 08 7;23(6):1472-1484. Epub 2018 Dec 7.

1 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA.

This study examined growth trajectories of teacher-reported adaptive behavior in a diverse sample of adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. The participants were 244 adolescents between the ages of 14 and 21 years who were assessed at up to four time points across two and a half years of high school. Demographic variables (age, sex, race, maternal education), phenotypic characteristics (intelligence quotient, autism severity) and school factors (location of the school, school quality) were collected. Growth mixture modeling was used to identify distinct classes of growth trajectories in communication, daily living skills, and socialization domains of adaptive behavior. Two distinct classes were identified for each domain. The first class had moderately low adaptive behavior scores and demonstrated growth of adaptive behavior over time and the second class had low adaptive behavior scores and did not demonstrate change over time. Adolescents within the moderately low adaptive behavior classes were younger at enrollment in the study, had higher IQs, and lower autism symptom severity. Logistic regressions were performed, and aspects of school quality predicted the likelihood of being in the moderately low classes above and beyond autism symptoms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1362361318815645DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6711369PMC
August 2019

Reflections From Co-Researchers With Intellectual Disability: Benefits to Inclusion in a Research Study Team.

Intellect Dev Disabil 2018 08;56(4):251-262

Karla K. Ausderau, University of Wisconsin - Madison, Department of Kinesiology, Occupational Therapy Program and University of Wisconsin - Madison Waisman Center.

Participatory action research methodologies may empower and protect marginalized individuals; however, they remain underutilized. Limited studies have investigated the impact of participatory action research, specifically on individuals with intellectual disability (ID). This study examines (1) the perspectives of co-researchers with ID on their involvement in the research process and (2) the feasibility of their inclusion based on perspectives of research staff (academic faculty and graduate students without ID). Three co-researchers with ID were interviewed regarding their research participation. Thematic analysis of interviews identified four themes: (1) Shared Experience of Disability, (2) Teaching and Guidance, (3) Acquisition of Skills and Knowledge, and (4) Value of Participation. Research staff reviewed field notes and identified benefits and challenges to feasibility of including co-researchers with ID. Inclusion of co-researchers with ID was found to be both meaningful and feasible.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1352/1934-9556-56.5.251DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6348152PMC
August 2018

Friendships and social participation as markers of quality of life of adolescents and adults with fragile X syndrome and autism.

Autism 2019 02 12;23(2):383-393. Epub 2017 Dec 12.

University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.

Friendships and social participation are key domains of quality of life for individuals with intellectual disabilities. This study examined the friendships, social and recreational activities, and family social networks of individuals with intellectual disabilities from two distinct diagnostic groups: individuals diagnosed with fragile X syndrome (n = 81) compared with those diagnosed with autistic disorder (n = 226). Within each diagnostic group, individuals in two developmental stages were compared: adolescence and adulthood. Quality of life in friendships and social participation domains was notably low for individuals with fragile X and those with autism. Individuals with fragile X had more friendships and a less negative social impact on the family than individuals with autism. Across both groups, adolescents spent less time with friends and neighbors, and more time in exercising, than did adults.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1362361317709202DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7062207PMC
February 2019

Brief Report: Mapping Systems of Support and Psychological Well-Being of Mothers of Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

J Autism Dev Disord 2018 03;48(3):940-946

University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, USA.

Parents of children with autism spectrum disorders are generally known to experience elevated levels of stress and poorer psychological well-being. To provide treatments and resources that most effectively support parent mental health, it is critical to understand how parents' connections with various networks and systems impact their well-being. This study examined the relationship between the psychological well-being of mothers of adolescents with ASD (n = 20) and their systems of support from an ecological systems theoretical framework. Findings indicated that most connections across mothers' ecosystems were strong in nature. However, the presence of strong connections was not significantly related to psychological well-being. In contrast, stressful/weak connections were significantly related to elevated levels of depressive symptoms, perceived stress, and sense of burden.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10803-017-3381-0DOI Listing
March 2018

Transitioning Together: A Multi-family Group Psychoeducation Program for Adolescents with ASD and Their Parents.

J Autism Dev Disord 2018 01;48(1):251-263

Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1500 Highland Ave, Madison, WI, 53705, USA.

Currently there are few evidence-based programs available for families of individuals with ASD during the transition to adulthood. The present study provided a preliminary evaluation of a multi-family group psychoeducation intervention using a randomized waitlist control design (n = 41). Families in the intervention condition participated in Transitioning Together, an 8-week program designed to reduce family distress and improve social functioning for adolescents. Findings indicated significant improvements in parental depressive symptoms and problem solving from pre- to post-intervention for parents in the intervention condition but not for parents in the control condition. Social interactions also improved for youth in the intervention condition relative to controls. Parents reported satisfaction with the program and particularly valued the opportunity to interact with other families.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10803-017-3307-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5762411PMC
January 2018

Brief Report: Postsecondary Work and Educational Disruptions for Youth on the Autism Spectrum.

J Autism Dev Disord 2017 Dec;47(12):4025-4031

Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA.

This study examined vocational/educational disruption in the 2-3 years after high school for 36 youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Data were collected three times from parents: during youth's last year of high school and two times after high school exit. Data were coded into categories indicating any versus no disruptions in postsecondary vocation/education, and group differences in individual (behavior problems, IQ, adaptive behavior, autism severity, stress reactivity) and family (parent depression, anxiety, quality of life; family income and climate) factors were examined. One-half of youth had experienced a postsecondary vocational/educational disruption; parents of those with a disruption had more depressive and anxiety symptoms and lower quality of life while their son/daughter was still in high school.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10803-017-3305-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5677531PMC
December 2017

FMR1 genotype interacts with parenting stress to shape health and functional abilities in older age.

Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet 2017 Jun 13;174(4):399-412. Epub 2017 Apr 13.

Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin.

This study investigated the association of genotype (CGG repeats in FMR1) and the health and well-being of 5,628 aging adults (mean age = 71) in a population-based study. Two groups were contrasted: aging parents who had adult children with developmental or mental health disabilities (n = 785; the high-stress parenting group) and aging parents of healthy children who did not have disabilities (n = 4843; the low-stress parenting group). There were significant curvilinear interaction effects between parenting stress group and CGG repeats for body mass index and indicators of health and functional limitations, and the results were suggestive of interactions for limitations in cognitive functioning. Parents who had adult children with disabilities and whose genotype was two standard deviations above or below the mean numbers of CGGs had poorer health and functional outcomes at age 71 than parents with average numbers of CGGs. In contrast, parents who had healthy adult children and who had similarly high or low numbers of CGG repeats had better health and functional outcomes than parents with average numbers of CGGs. This pattern of gene by environment interactions was consistent with differential susceptibility or the flip-flop phenomenon. This study illustrates how research that begins with a rare genetic condition (such as fragile X syndrome) can lead to insights about the general population and contributes to understanding of how genetic differences shape the way people respond to environments. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajmg.b.32529DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5435525PMC
June 2017

Daily Couple Experiences and Parent Affect in Families of Children with Versus Without Autism.

J Autism Dev Disord 2017 06;47(6):1645-1658

Department of Educational Psychology and Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA.

We examined daily couple experiences in 174 couples who had a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) relative to 179 couples who had a child without disabilities and their same-day association with parent affect. Parents completed a 14-day daily diary in which they reported time with partner, partner support, partner closeness, and positive and negative couple interactions and level of positive and negative affect. One-way multivariate analyses of covariance and dyadic multilevel models were conducted. Parents of children with ASD reported less time with partner, lower partner closeness, and fewer positive couple interactions than the comparison group. Daily couple experiences were more strongly associated with parent affect in the ASD than comparison group. Findings have implications for programs and supports.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10803-017-3088-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5433904PMC
June 2017

Participation in recreational activities buffers the impact of perceived stress on quality of life in adults with autism spectrum disorder.

Autism Res 2017 May 28;10(5):973-982. Epub 2017 Feb 28.

Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin.

As the number of adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) grows, the need to identify modifiable correlates of positive outcomes and quality of life (QoL) gains in importance. Research indicates that perceived stress is significantly correlated with QoL in adults with ASD. Studies in the general population of individuals without disabilities indicate that greater participation in social and recreational activities may lessen the negative impact of perceived stress on well-being, and this association may also hold among adults with ASD. We hypothesized that: (1) perceived stress would be negatively associated with QoL; and (2) higher frequency of participation in social activities and recreational activities would moderate the relationship between perceived stress and QoL. We used data collected from 60 adults with ASD aged 24-55 and their mothers to address our hypotheses. Findings indicate that adults with ASD with higher perceived stress are likely to have poorer QoL. Furthermore, greater participation in recreational activities buffers the impact of perceived stress on QoL, but no buffering effect was observed for participation in social activities. These findings suggest that interventions and services that provide supports and opportunities for participation in recreational activities may help adults with ASD manage their stress and lead to better QoL. Autism Res 2017, 10: 973-982. © 2017 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/aur.1753DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5588899PMC
May 2017
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