ASfAR wishes to recognise our former Executive Committee member Professor Sylvia Rodger for her many achievements, including her appointment to Membership of the Order of Australia on Australia Day, 2017. Sylvia was generous in support of Autism research, broader developmental research, occupational therapy, assisted many children, and improved their quality of life. The ASfAR Committee is deeply grateful that Sylvia lent her considerable scholarship and skill to ASfAR. With her passing in 2017, Sylvia will be sorely missed by all who were involved with her.
Research summary: Prenatal testosterone and language development
Today we have our first research summary from a student member of ASfAR! Lauren Hollier is a PhD student at the Telethon Institute/University Western Australia (@childhealthnews).
Lauren recently published a paper on the links between prenatal testosterone levels and language development in typically-developing children, to begin exploring why some children develop language impairments. Below is the link to the article (full text isn’t freely available, I’m sorry to say!)
Autism is among the most severe, prevalent and heritable of all neurodevelopmental disorders. However, the factors causing autism are still unclear.Baron-Cohen (2002) proposed that exposure to higher levels of prenatal testosterone, may play a casual role in the development of autism. However, research in this area has been limited by indirect measures of testosterone and small unrepresentative samples. Using the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study, we were able to investigate the relationship between prenatal testosterone exposure and language development in early childhood. Umbilical cord blood was collected at birth to measure testosterone, and vocabulary was measured at 2 years of age. We found that for boys, higher levels of prenatal testosterone were related to a reduced vocabulary at 2 years of age. No relationship was observed in girls. These findings suggest that in typically developing children, higher levels of fetal testosterone may be related to reduced language development in boys.
A Review of the Research to Identify the Most Effective Models of Practice in Early Intervention for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
The Federal Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) requested ASFAR carry out an updated review of early intervention for ASD, based on the literature from 2006 to the present. It was an update of the earlier review of Roberts and Prior published in 2006.
Four representatives from ASFAR, Margot Prior, Jacqui Roberts, Sylvia Rodger, and Katrina Williams, formed the working party. They completed the review with the support of three part time Research Assistants.
The review can now be downloaded from the FaHCSIA website: PDF
In a second step Prior and Roberts wrote a revision of the ‘Guidelines for Best Practice’ Booklet. This will also appear on the FaHCSIA web site very shortly.
Prof Margot Prior