Special Issue "Research on Autism Spectrum Disorders"

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Lei-Shih Chen
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Health and Kinesiology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843, USA
Interests: health education; health disparities; autism spectrum disorders; genomics and precision health
Dr. Shixi Zhao
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Health, Exercise & Sports Sciences, the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA
Interests: health education; autism spectrum disorders; genomics and precision health

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a serious public health issue. The estimated prevalence of ASD is 18.5 per 1000 (1 in 54) 8-year-old children in the United States. This Special Issue of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJERPH) focuses on ASD and public health. We will accept manuscripts from different disciplines inside and outside public health as long as the studies can demonstrate the impact of their ASD research on public health.

Here are some examples of areas of interest that could be addressed in this Special Issue: epidemiology, education, services research, intervention studies, health policy, genetic and genomic research, maternal and child health, health education and behavior, screening, early identification, and diagnosis. In addition to these examples, we are also open to other topics. Original research, review articles, secondary data analysis studies, and perspectives, opinions, and commentaries are welcome for this issue.

Dr. Lei-Shih Chen
Dr. Shixi Zhao
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Genetics
  • Genomics
  • Epidemiology
  • Education
  • Intervention
  • Services
  • Public health
  • Health education
  • Health policy
  • Autism spectrum disorder

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Article
Implication of the Sensory Environment in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Perspectives from School
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(14), 7670; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18147670 - 19 Jul 2021
Viewed by 365
Abstract
(1) Background: Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) frequently have difficulties in processing sensory information, which is a limitation when participating in different contexts, such as school. The objective of the present study was to compare the sensory processing characteristics of children with [...] Read more.
(1) Background: Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) frequently have difficulties in processing sensory information, which is a limitation when participating in different contexts, such as school. The objective of the present study was to compare the sensory processing characteristics of children with ASD in the natural context of school through the perception of professionals in the field of education, in comparison with neurodevelopmental children (2) Methods: A cross-sectional descriptive study as conducted with study population consisting of children between three and ten years old, 36 of whom were diagnosed with ASD and attended the Autismo Burgos association; the remaining 24 had neurotypical development. The degree of response of the children to sensory stimuli at school was evaluated using the Sensory Profile-2 (SP-2) questionnaire in its school version, answered by the teachers. (3) Results: Statistically significant differences were found in sensory processing patterns (p = 0.001), in sensory systems (p = 0.001) and in school factors (p = 0.001). Children with ASD who obtained worse results. (4) Conclusions: Children with ASD are prone to present sensory alterations in different contexts, giving nonadapted behavioral and learning responses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Research on Autism Spectrum Disorders)
Article
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the Family Inclusive Airport Design Experience
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(13), 7206; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18137206 - 05 Jul 2021
Viewed by 680
Abstract
The literature on air travellers with psychiatric disorders is limited. This perspective article highlights various travel-related aspects of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The airport experience can be stressful for families of children with autism spectrum disorder (FwASDs). The aim of this study was [...] Read more.
The literature on air travellers with psychiatric disorders is limited. This perspective article highlights various travel-related aspects of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The airport experience can be stressful for families of children with autism spectrum disorder (FwASDs). The aim of this study was to explore the airport experience of FwASDs using the value co-creation process approach to assist airport managers in designing improved experiences for this specific passenger segment. This study responds to the current climate in which airports are developing awareness programmes in relation to children who require special assistance at airports. The prevalence of children with ASD is 1/68. While a number of airports throughout the world have adopted procedures addressing the needs of those with cognitive impairment, these advances are far from universal. As part of an academic–industry collaboration between Vueling airlines and the Spanish airport operator Aena, 25 FwASDs took part in an inclusive airport research project in the city of Barcelona from November 2015 to April 2016. Employing a qualitative methodology that incorporated focus groups, ethnographic techniques, and post-experience surveys, the study contributes to extending the body of knowledge on the management of the value co-creation process for challenging passenger segments within the airport context. The study explains how ensuring adequate resource allocation to this passenger segment can improve the family-inclusive design of the airport experience and offers managerial recommendations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Research on Autism Spectrum Disorders)
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Article
Perceptions of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Etiology among Parents of Children with ASD
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(13), 6774; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18136774 - 24 Jun 2021
Viewed by 445
Abstract
Background: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by social communication deficits and restricted or repetitive behaviors. Parental perceptions of the etiology of their child’s ASD can affect provider–client relationships, bonding between parents and their children, and the prognosis, treatment, and [...] Read more.
Background: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by social communication deficits and restricted or repetitive behaviors. Parental perceptions of the etiology of their child’s ASD can affect provider–client relationships, bonding between parents and their children, and the prognosis, treatment, and management of children with ASD. Thus, this study sought to examine the perceptions of ASD etiology of parents of children with ASD. Methods: Forty-two parents of children diagnosed with ASD were recruited across Texas. Semi-structured interviews were conducted individually. All interviews were recorded and later transcribed verbatim for content analysis utilizing NVivo 12.0 (QSR International, Doncaster, Australia). Results: The content analysis identified the following themes regarding parental perceptions of ASD etiology: Genetic factors (40.5%), environmental factors (31.0%), problems that occurred during pregnancy or delivery (23.8%), vaccinations (16.7%), other health problems (7.1%), parental age at the time of pregnancy (4.8%), and spiritual or religious factors (2.4%). Conclusions: The parental perceptions of ASD etiology were diverse, but several views, such as vaccinations and spiritual or religious factors, were not based on scientific evidence. Health professionals and researchers can use these findings to develop and provide targeted education to parents who have children with ASD. Our findings also support policymakers in developing campaigns designed to increase parental ASD awareness and knowledge. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Research on Autism Spectrum Disorders)
Article
Online Attitudes and Information-Seeking Behavior on Autism, Asperger Syndrome, and Greta Thunberg
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(9), 4981; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18094981 - 07 May 2021
Viewed by 1039
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to examine Internet trends data and sentiment in tweets mentioning autism, Asperger syndrome, and Greta Thunberg during 2019. We used mixed methods in analyzing sentiment and attitudes in viral tweets and collected 1074 viral tweets on autism [...] Read more.
The purpose of this study was to examine Internet trends data and sentiment in tweets mentioning autism, Asperger syndrome, and Greta Thunberg during 2019. We used mixed methods in analyzing sentiment and attitudes in viral tweets and collected 1074 viral tweets on autism that were published in 2019 (tweets that got more than 100 likes). The sample from Twitter was compared with search patterns on Google. In 2019, Asperger syndrome was closely connected to Greta Thunberg, as of the tweets specifically mentioning Asperger (from the total sample of viral tweets mentioning autism), 83% also mentioned Thunberg. In the sample of tweets about Thunberg, the positive sentiment expressed that Greta Thunberg was a role model, whereas the tweets that expressed the most negativity used her diagnosis against her and could be considered as cyberbullying. The Google Trends data also showed that Thunberg was closely connected to search patterns on Asperger syndrome in 2019. The study showed that being open about health information while being an active participant in controversial debates might be used against you but also help break stigmas and stereotypes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Research on Autism Spectrum Disorders)
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Article
Psychometric Properties of the POAGTS: A Tool for Understanding Parents’ Perceptions Regarding Autism Spectrum Disorder Genetic Testing
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(6), 3323; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18063323 - 23 Mar 2021
Viewed by 794
Abstract
Due to the increased prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), more children with ASD may be referred for genetic testing. It is important to develop a tool to help parents consider the benefits and drawbacks of genetic testing for ASD before pursuing genetic [...] Read more.
Due to the increased prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), more children with ASD may be referred for genetic testing. It is important to develop a tool to help parents consider the benefits and drawbacks of genetic testing for ASD before pursuing genetic testing for children with ASD. We developed the first theory-based survey—Perceptions of ASD Genetic Testing Survey (POAGTS), as a tool to assist healthcare providers to better understand parents’ perceptions and concerns regarding ASD genetic testing. The psychometric properties of POAGTS were first pre-tested and then formally tested with 308 parents of children with ASD who had not decided whether to pursue genetic testing for their children diagnosed with ASD. Findings suggest that the eight scales of the POAGTS were psychometrically sound, and had acceptable data reliability and validity. Additional research with various samples, such as parents of children with ASD who belong to diverse racial/ethnic and socioeconomic groups, is warranted in the future to determine whether the POAGTS is applicable to these particular groups. Condensing and refining this tool to a shorter, more user-friendly version is also recommended for future research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Research on Autism Spectrum Disorders)
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Article
Effects of a Therapeutic Horseback Riding Program on Social Interaction and Communication in Children with Autism
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(5), 2656; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18052656 - 06 Mar 2021
Viewed by 1214
Abstract
Various therapeutic interventions have been studied and found to be effective in reducing the stereotypical behaviors of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). There has been increasing interest in using animal-assisted interventions (AAIs) as an alternative approach to therapeutic rehabilitation for children with [...] Read more.
Various therapeutic interventions have been studied and found to be effective in reducing the stereotypical behaviors of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). There has been increasing interest in using animal-assisted interventions (AAIs) as an alternative approach to therapeutic rehabilitation for children with ASD, and many studies have reported that AAI has significant benefits for the cognitive, psychological, and social behavior of children with ASD. The present study was designed to examine the effects of a 16 weeks therapeutic horseback riding program on social interaction and communication skills in children with autism. Eighty-four children diagnosed with ASD, aged between 6 and 12 years old, were recruited for this study. All selected participants met the DSM-V criteria, and a total of sixty-one participants (N = 61) completed the study. A quasi-experimental design with an experimental group and control group was implemented for this study, taking measurements at pre-test, interim-test, and post-test to monitor the behavior changes in social and communication throughout the 16-week intervention. Repeated measures ANOVA and the independent sample t-test were used for data analysis, to assess the difference between the experimental group and control group. The results indicated that the THR program had positive influences on overall social skills and communication, based on the SSIS and the ABLLS-R scores, compared to the control group (p < 0.05). A notable improvement in the overall social interaction score was observed from the interim-testing point to post-test. In addition, participants in the therapeutic horseback riding (THR) group achieved significant improvements on six out of seven items in their communication evaluations. In conclusion, after 16 weeks of intervention, the THR program significantly enhanced the subdomains of social and communication skills in the areas of social interaction, communication, responsibility, and self-control, compared to the control group. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Research on Autism Spectrum Disorders)
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Article
A Mixed-Methods Evaluation of Parent-Assisted Children’s Friendship Training to Improve Social Skills and Friendship Quality in Children with Autism in Malaysia
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(5), 2566; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18052566 - 04 Mar 2021
Viewed by 904
Abstract
Background: This study evaluates the effectiveness of parent-assisted children’s friendship training intervention for enhancing friendship quality and social skills among children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). We conducted a quasi-experimental study to investigate the effective outcomes of social skills and friendship quality [...] Read more.
Background: This study evaluates the effectiveness of parent-assisted children’s friendship training intervention for enhancing friendship quality and social skills among children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). We conducted a quasi-experimental study to investigate the effective outcomes of social skills and friendship quality in the pre-and post-parent-assisted CFT intervention phases; Methods: to conduct a 12-week field session, 30 children with their parents were selected. The Social Skills Improvement System Rating Scales and the Quality of Play Questionnaire-Parent were used to assess the effectiveness of the parent-assisted children’s friendship training during pre-and post-intervention. A semi-structured interview with parents was conducted at the end of the session; Results: findings revealed that intervention improved the social skills of these children. Additionally, the friendship quality of children with ASD improved before and after the intervention, however, engagement remained unchanged. Parents also showed some sort of improvement after the session as they reported a heightened sense of fear and resistance, awareness, learning and adjustment, change is not easy, and identifying support; Conclusions: there was clear evidence that children with ASD benefitted from parent-assisted CFTs in terms of social skills and friendship quality. However, larger and controlled studies are required to draw firm conclusions about this kind of intervention. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Research on Autism Spectrum Disorders)
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