December 2013



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Archive for December 11th, 2013

Man on top of mountain with big rock


Dec. 11, 2013 — Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have developed a new screening tool to facilitate the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder in adults. The test is presented in the scientific journal Molecular Autism and is unique in that researchers have, as part of their evaluation, compared the group diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder with psychiatric patients.


Autism Spectrum Disorder is a collective term that embraces autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. The disorder causes major problems in communicating and interacting with other people, and can lead to compulsive routines and interests. In adults, distinguishing Autism Spectrum Disorder from other psychiatric conditions can be a problem, as their symptoms often overlap or are similar to those in schizophrenia, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or severe personality disorders.


The screening methods used today for making a correct diagnosis are time-consuming and require considerable expertise. Research specialists at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience have, under the leadership of Dr Susanne Bejerot, refined and simplified an existing American test, RAADS-R (Ritvo Autism and Asperger Diagnostic Scale-Revised). The new test is a questionnaire with 14 self-screening questions. It is therefore known as RAADS-14 Screen. The scale includes three sub-scales that measure mentalisation difficulties, social anxiety and sensory oversensitivity — all common symptoms in autism. The answers are categorised on the basis of whether the symptoms appeared in childhood or developed later in life.


The newly presented evaluation included 135 adults of normal intelligence with Autism Spectrum Disorder and 508 control subjects with some form of psychiatric disorder but not ASD. 590 healthy control subjects were also included in the study. The results showed that it is possible to clearly differentiate the autism spectrum group from patients with ADHD or schizophrenia, for example. The median value in the test for Autism Spectrum Disorder sufferers was 32 points (out of a total of 42), compared with 15 for ADHD patients, 11 for those other psychiatric disorders and 3 for healthy control subjects. By drawing a line at 14 points, 97 percent of the participants with Autism Spectrum Disorder could be identified.


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Today, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network is proud to announce the release of “The Transition to Adulthood for Youth with ID/DD: A review of research, policy and next steps”. This policy brief (found here) analyzes the challenges faced by youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) in moving from pediatric to adult health care systems, accessing specialized health care, obtaining supports, and developing self-advocacy skills.


More than a third of young people in the U.S. who have special health care needs have been diagnosed with a behavioral or developmental disability. All of them face their own sets of challenges and obstacles in their lives. But there is one thing they hold in common — the need for continued support and health care as they transition from adolescence to adulthood. Typically, by the age of 26 young people age out of the medical coverage they may have had as children. In fact, over 75% of uninsured young adults have reported forgoing necessary medical care because of cost.


When children become adults, they start needing to self-direct their care: managing their own health care needs, including making their own doctor’s appointments and managing their own treatments. However, young people with disabilities often have a much greater difficulty with this. It is important that young people with I/DD are taught how to, and encouraged to, take their well-being into their own hands. Lack of access to support with managing health conditions may lead to serious adverse health outcomes, especially for young adults with complex medical needs.


To help combat the issues young people with I/DD face in entering the world of adult health care, our policy brief recommends specific next steps in research, program development and public policy to enable youth with I/DD to get the support and coverage they need. We hope you find it useful. Please feel free to share it broadly with your networks. As always, Nothing About Us, Without Us!


Read more here!