Impaired gait constitutes an important functional limitation in children with cerebral palsy (CP). Treadmill training has achieved encouraging results regarding improvements in the gait pattern of this population. Moreover, transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is believed to potentiate the results achieved during the motor rehabilitation process. The aim of the present study was to determine the effect of the administration of tDCS during treadmill training on the gait pattern of children with spastic diparetic CP. A double-blind randomized controlled trial was carried out involving 24 children with CP allocated to either an experimental group (active anodal tDCS [1 mA] over the primary motor cortex of the dominant hemisphere) or control group (placebo tDCS) during ten 20-min sessions of treadmill training. The experimental group exhibited improvements in temporal functional mobility, gait variables (spatiotemporal and kinematics variables). The results were maintained one month after the end of the intervention. There was a significant change in corticospinal excitability as compared to control group. In the present study, the administration of tDCS during treadmill training potentiated the effects of motor training in children with spastic diparetic CP.
Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) often show major deficits in motor and cognitive abilities. Pharmacological treatment is commonly used to reduce ADHD symptoms. However, non-pharmacologic treatment methods would be preferred by parents, children and psychiatrists. Physical activity (PA) has been demonstrated to improve cognitive functioning in healthy populations. It can be hypothesized that there are similar beneficial effects in children with ADHD, however, very little is known about this issue. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether PA improves cognitive performance in children with ADHD. A total of 43 children with ADHD (32 boys and 11 girls) aged between seven and 12 years took part in the study. To investigate whether potential effects on executive functioning depend on the kind of PA, two different 12-week training programs were implemented. The study-design consisted of two experimental groups (EG1, = 13; EG2, = 14) and a wait-list control group (CG, = 16). Participants in EG1 took part in a training which focused on the abilities ball handling, balance and manual dexterity. Participants in EG2 group were trained in sports without a specific focus. The children in the CG group received no intervention. Participants completed assessments of working memory (WM) and motor performance before, immediately after the first training week and one week after the last session. After the 12-week intervention period, several measures of the EG1 and EG2s significantly improved over time. Furthermore, between group comparisons demonstrated significant improvements in both EG1 and EG2 compared to the CG in variables assessing WM performance and motor performance. These findings support the hypothesis that long-term PA has a positive effect on executive functions of children with ADHD, regardless of the specificity of the PA. The outcomes indicated that regular PA can be used as a complementary or alternative non-pharmacologic treatment for ADHD.
Restricted and Repetitive Behaviours (RRBs) are some of the most difficult behaviours to manage in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Although RRBs frequently occur in educational settings, we know little about the way in which teachers understand these behaviours. The study aimed to explore the attributions, emotional response and feelings of confidence held by teachers working in different educational settings when faced with RRBs. A single group survey design using behavioural vignettes was adopted in order to elicit teacher beliefs and ratings. Analysis indicated that there were differences in the attributions and confidence ratings held for different types of RRBs. Significant differences were also observed between teachers working in mainstream and specialist educational settings. Emotional response and confidence scores were often predictive of one another alongside factors related to teaching experience. The findings indicate that teachers from mainstream schools potentially hold less helpful beliefs in response to RRBs and therefore are a professional group who may benefit the most from additional support and training. Further research could consider conducting a qualitative exploration of why teachers hold certain beliefs about RRBs and/or sampling those who are less experienced in working with children with ASD.
Professionals play a key role in supporting children with special educational needs in schools. However, the views of those working with neurodevelopmental disorders are less known. This study examined the views of professionals (including teachers, teaching assistants, educational psychologists, speech and language therapists, physio and occupational therapists etc.) working with children with Williams Syndrome (WS), Down Syndrome (DS) or with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in terms of how informed professionals are about the disorder and their views about the type of support these children need to be receiving. Professionals working with 77 children with ASD, 26 with DS and 38 with WS completed an online questionnaire. Professionals in all three groups highlighted relevant areas of difficulty for these children, but they did not recognise some of the less phenotypical difficulties that children with a specific disorder may experience. In addition, there was a disconnect between the difficulties identified by the professionals and the type of specialist support that may be necessary. Although professionals have a lot of knowledge about the specific neurodevelopmental disorders, further evidence-based training would allow more effective support for children with neurodevelopmental disorders in the classroom but also equip professionals better and raise their confidence in meeting these children’s needs.
Altered trunk movements during gait in children with CP are considered compensatory due to lower limb impairments, although scientific evidence for this assumption has not yet been provided. This study aimed to study the functional relation between trunk and lower limb movement deficits during gait in children with spastic diplegia. Therefore, the relationship between trunk control in sitting, and trunk and lower limb movements during gait was explored in 20 children with spastic diplegia (age 9.2 ± 3 yrs; GMFCS level I = 10, level II = 10). Trunk control in sitting was assessed with the Trunk Control Measurement Scale (TCMS), a clinical measure that reflects the presence of an underlying trunk control deficit. Trunk movements during gait were measured with a recently developed trunk model including the pelvis, thorax, head, shoulder line and spine. Lower limb movements were assessed with the Plug-in-Gait model (Vicon ). Range of motion (ROM) of the different trunk segments was calculated, as well as the Trunk Profile Score (TPS) and Trunk Variable Scores (TVSs). Similarly, the Gait Profile Score (GPS) and Gait Variable Scores (GVSs) were calculated to describe altered lower limb movements during gait. Correlation analyses were performed between the presence of impaired trunk control in sitting (TCMS) and altered trunk movements during gait (ROM, TPS/TVSs) and between these altered trunk movements and lower limb movements (GPS/GVSs) during gait. A poorer performance on the TCMS correlated with increased ROM and TPS/TVSs, particularly for the thorax, indicating the presence of an underlying trunk control deficit. No significant correlation was found between the TPS and GPS, suggesting that overall trunk and lower limb movement deficits were not strongly associated. Only few correlations between specific lower limb deficits (GVSs for hip ab/adduction, knee flexion/extension and ankle flexion/extension) and TVSs for thorax lateral bending and rotation were found. This study provided first evidence that the altered trunk movements observed during gait should not be solely considered compensatory due to lower limb impairments, but that these may also partially reflect an underlying trunk control deficit. A better understanding of underlying trunk control deficits in children with CP may facilitate targeted therapy planning and ultimately can optimize a child's functionality.
It has been hypothesised that abnormal functioning of the mirror neuron system (MNS) may lead to deficits in imitation and the internal representation of movement, potentially contributing to the motor impairments associated with developmental coordination disorder (DCD). Using fMRI, this study examined brain activation patterns in children with and without DCD on a finger adduction/abduction task during four MNS activation states: observation; motor imagery; execution; and imitation. Nineteen boys (8.25–12.75 years) participated, including 10 children with DCD (≤16th percentile on MABC-2; no ADHD/ASD), and nine typically developing controls (≥25th percentile on MABC-2). Even though children with DCD displayed deficits behaviourally on imitation (Sensory Integration & Praxis Test Subtests) and motor imagery assessments prior to scanning, no differences in MNS activation were seen between the DCD and control groups at a neurological level, with both groups activating mirror regions effectively across conditions. Small clusters of decreased activation during imitation were identified in non-mirror regions in the DCD group, including the thalamus, caudate, and posterior cingulate − regions involved in motor planning and attentional processes. The results of this study do not provide support for the MNS dysfunction theory as a possible causal mechanism for DCD. Further research to explore attentional and motor planning processes and how they may interact at a network level may enhance our understanding of this complex disorder.
Studies have shown that stigmatization is linked to lower quality of life; however, only scant research has examined the association between family caregivers’ internalization of stigma (affiliate stigma) and their subjective quality of life (subjective well-being, SWB). Furthermore, studies have rarely examined this association via comparison between caregivers of individuals with different developmental disabilities in addition to examining the influence of psychosocial protective factors. These were the aims of the current study. Family caregivers ( = 176) of individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), intellectual disabilities (ID), and physical disabilities (PD) completed a self-report structured questionnaire including scales measuring SWB, affiliate stigma, burden, positive meaning in caregiving, social support and self-esteem. Results showed that SWB of family caregivers was below the average normative level and especially low for caregivers of individuals with ASD. The strongest predictors of SWB were caregivers’ self-esteem, social support, positive meaning in caregiving, and affiliate stigma. Furthermore, an interaction was found between affiliate stigma and diagnosis, showing that among caregivers of individuals with ASD, greater levels of stigma were associated with lower ratings of SWB, whereas such an association was not found among caregivers of individuals with ID or PD. Findings from this study point to the importance of supporting caregivers across the life-span in order to decrease stigma, improve social support and self-esteem and improve SWB. Further, findings point to the need to respond differentially to the various developmental disabilities.
The general developmental as well as the disability specific literature has stressed the crucial influence of parents on their child’s social-emotional development. Attachment theory provides a framework to describe parental roles within the parent-child attachment relationship. The current study explored parents’ perspectives on their role as attachment figure and the preconditions they consider necessary to establish secure attachment in children with severe or profound intellectual disability (ID). Semi-structured interviews with 54 parents on their child’s social-emotional development, attachment behaviour and the parent-child attachment bond were analysed using the Framework Method. All children were between 15 months and seven years old and had a severe or profound ID. Parents reported their child’s clear preference towards them and acknowledged the role they fulfil as stress regulator. Children differed in the extent to which they use their parent to explore new environments. Overall, parents described the attachment relationship with their child as positive but challenging. Parents acknowledged the roles they fulfil both as a safe haven for their child, and (to a lesser extent) as a secure base. Clinical practice could benefit from a parental perspective to identify particular challenges parents encounter in building a secure attachment relationship.
► Children with learning disabilities had poorer gross motor skills than typically developing peers. ► A specific relationship was found between reading and locomotor skills. ► A trend was found for a relation between mathematics and object-control skills. ► The larger children's learning lag, the poorer their motor skill scores. The present study compared the gross motor skills of 7- to 12-year-old children with learning disabilities ( = 104) with those of age-matched typically developing children ( = 104) using the Test of Gross Motor Development-2. Additionally, the specific relationships between subsets of gross motor skills and academic performance in reading, spelling, and mathematics were examined in children with learning disabilities. As expected, the children with learning disabilities scored poorer on both the locomotor and object-control subtests than their typically developing peers. Furthermore, in children with learning disabilities a specific relationship was observed between reading and locomotor skills and a trend was found for a relationship between mathematics and object-control skills: the larger children's learning lag, the poorer their motor skill scores. This study stresses the importance of specific interventions facilitating both motor and academic abilities.
Anxiety and depression co-occur in 50–70% of adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) but treatment methods for these comorbid problems have not been systematically studied. Recently, two ASD-tailored protocols were published: mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). We wanted to investigate if both methods are equally effective in reducing anxiety and depression symptoms among adults with ASD. 59 adults with ASD and anxiety or depression scores above 7 on the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, gave informed consent to participate; 27 followed the CBT protocol, and 32 the MBSR treatment protocol. Anxiety and depression scores, autism symptoms, rumination, and global mood were registered at the start, at the end of the 13-week treatment period, and at 3-months follow-up. Irrational beliefs and mindful attention awareness were used as process measures during treatment and at follow-up. Results indicate that both MBSR and CBT are associated with a reduction in anxiety and depressive symptoms among adults with ASD, with a sustained effect at follow-up, but without a main effect for treatment group. A similar pattern was seen for the reduction of autistic symptoms, rumination and the improvement in global mood. There are some indications that MBSR may be preferred over CBT with respect to the treatment effect on anxiety when the scores on measures of irrational beliefs or positive global mood at baseline are high. Mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapies are both promising treatment methods for reducing comorbid anxiety and depression in adults with ASD.
Health checks for people with intellectual disabilities have been recommended as one component of international health policy responses to the poorer health of people with intellectual disabilities. This review updates a previously published review summarising evidence on the impact of health checks on the health and well-being of people with intellectual disabilities. Electronic literature searches and email contacts were used to identify literature relevant to the impact of health checks for people with intellectual disabilities published from 1989 to 2013. Forty-eight publications were identified, of which eight articles and two reports were newly identified and not included in the previous review. These involved checking the health of people with intellectual disabilities from a range of countries including a full range of people with intellectual disabilities. Health checks consistently led to detection of unmet health needs and targeted actions to address health needs. Health checks also had the potential to increase knowledge of the health needs of people with intellectual disabilities amongst health professionals and support staff, and to identify gaps in health services. Health checks are effective in identifying previously unrecognised health needs, including life threatening conditions. Future research should consider strategies for optimising the cost effectiveness or efficiency of health checks.
Problem or challenging behaviors are highly prevalent among persons with autism and bring along major risks for the individual with autism and his/her family. In order to reduce the problem behavior, several behavioral interventions are used. We conducted a quantitative synthesis of single-subject studies to examine the efficacy of behavioral interventions for reducing problem behavior in persons with autism. Two hundred and thirteen studies representing 358 persons with autism met the inclusion criteria and were included in the statistical analyses. Overall, we found that behavioral interventions were on average effective in reducing problem behavior in individuals with autism, but some interventions were significantly more effective than others. The results further showed that the use of positive (nonaversive) behavioral interventions was increasing over time. The behavioral interventions were on average equally effective regardless of the type of problem behavior that was targeted. Interventions preceded by a functional analysis reduced problem behavior significantly more than interventions not preceded by a functional analysis. Finally, treatment and experimental characteristics, but not participant characteristics, were statistically significant moderators of the behavioral treatment effectiveness.
In this study we describe by use of accelerometers the total physical activity (PA), intensity pattern and walking capacity in 87 persons age 16–45 years with Down syndrome (DS), Williams syndrome (WS) and Prader–Willi syndrome (PWS). Participants were recruited from all over Norway, and lived either with their parents or in community residences with support. On average the participants generated 294 counts per minute (cpm) or 6712 steps per day, with most of the day spent in sedentary activity, 522 min/day, followed by 212 min/day in light PA, 71 min/day in lifestyle activity and 27 min/day in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Inactivity was prevalent, as only 12% meet the current Nordic recommendations for PA. When compared, no differences for total physical activity or time in MVPA were observed between the three groups. However, participant with DS spent a mean of 73 min/day less and 43 min/day less in sedentary activities compared to participants with PWS and WS, respectively, ( = 0.011, 95% CI: −10.9; −80.1). In addition the DS-group spent a mean of 66 min/day more in light PA than the PWS-group and 41 min/day more than the WS-group, ( < 0.001, 95% CI: 29.3; 79.7). Participants with PWS spent on average 30 min/day less in lifestyle activities compared to both participants with DS and WS, ( < 0.001, 95% CI: −14.2; −45.4). No association between total PA and BMI were observed. Males were more active than females across all diagnoses. Males accumulated on average 85 counts per minutes more than females, ( = 0.002, 95% CI: 33.3; 136.7), 2137 more steps per day, ( = 0.002, 95% CI: 778; 3496). The mean walking capacity during six-minutes was 507 m (SD 112 m) for males and 466 m (SD 88 m) for females. Distance walked during testing decreased with 33.6 m when comparing normal or underweight participants to overweight participants, and 78.1 m when comparing overweight to obese participants ( < 0.001 95% CI: −40.4; −85.8). When adjusted for BMI no differences in walking capacity between the three genetic conditions were observed.
Little is currently known about borderline intellectual functioning (BIF), a condition characterized by an intelligence quotient between one and two standard deviations below the average, that affects about 14% of the population. The present study aimed to analyze the intellectual profile of school-aged children with BIF. The WISC-IV was administered to 204 children with BIF attending Italian primary and lower secondary school, and their profile was compared with that of a control group of typically developing (TD) children. The WISC-IV profile of the children with BIF differed from that of the TD children, and the former’s performance was worse than the latter’s in all the measures considered. The children with BIF also showed significant differences between the four main factor indices, scoring lowest for working memory, while the TD control group’s profile was flat (as expected on the grounds of standardization criteria). No differences were found between the profiles of children with versus without a comorbid neurodevelopmental disorder. Our results support the hypothesis that individuals with BIF have a characteristic profile with specific weaknesses.
We studied visually impaired and blind children to investigate the effects of visual damage on time perception. Sixty-three children (11 blind, 16 visually impaired, 20 sighted and 16 sighted but blindfolded) performed a temporal bisection task, which consisted of judging different temporal intervals presented in the auditory modality. The visually impaired children showed lower constant error than sighted children but higher variability (Weber ratio). The blindfolded children had a temporal estimation comparable to the clinical groups and time sensitivity comparable to the controls. These findings are interpreted in the light of inter-modality interference, assuming that the coexistence of both sensory modalities, present only in controls, leads to a trade-off between the two senses with an indirect contribution of sight, which does not happen either in the clinical groups or in the blindfolded children, despite the single sensory task.
World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule 2.0 (WHODAS 2.0) provided a standardized method for measuring the health and disability and the traditional Chinese version has not been developed. To describe the process of developing the traditional Chinese version of the WHODAS 2.0 36-item version and to evaluate the concurrent validity and test–retest reliability of this instrument. The study was conducted in two phases. Phase I was the process of translation of WHODAS 2.0 36-item version. Phase II was a cross-sectional study. The participants were 307 adults who were tested the validity and reliability of draft traditional Chinese version. The reliability of Cronbach's α and ICC in the WHODAS 2.0 traditional Chinese version were 0.73–0.99 and 0.8–089, respectively. The content validity was good ( = 0.7–0.76), and the concurrent validity was excellent in comparison with the WHOQOL-BREF ( < 0.5). The construct validity, the model was explained total variance was 67.26% by the exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and the confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) illustrated the traditional Chinese version was good to assess disability. There was a valid and reliable measurement scales for evaluating functioning and disability status. For disability eligibility system of Taiwan government to measure the disability, the traditional Chinese version of the WHODAS 2.0 provided valuable evidence to design the assessment instrument.
► We did a survey of older adults with intellectual disabilities (ID) who do not have Down syndrome. ► We found increased dementia incidence rates compared to the general population. ► This has implications for screening and resource planning for an ageing population with ID. Dementia may be more common in older adults with intellectual disability (ID) than in the general population. The increased risk for Alzheimer's disease in people with Down syndrome (DS) is well established, but much less is known about dementia in adults with ID who do not have DS. We estimated incidence rates from a longitudinal study of dementia in older adults with ID without DS and compared them to general population rates. 222 participants with ID without DS aged 60 years and older were followed up an average of 2.9 years later to identify those who had declined in functional or cognitive abilities. Those who screened positive had a comprehensive assessment for dementia, diagnosed using ICD 10 and DSM IV criteria. 134 participants who did not have dementia at initial assessment were alive and interviewed at follow up; 21 (15.7%) were diagnosed with dementia. Overall incidence rate for those aged ≥60 was 54.6/1000 person years (95% CI 34.1–82.3). The highest incidence rate (97.8/1000 person years) was in the age group 70–74. Standardised incidence ratio for those aged ≥65 was 4.98 (95% CI 1.62–11.67). Incidence of dementia in older people with intellectual disabilities are up to five times higher than older adults in the general population. Screening may be useful in this population given the high incident rates, particularly as more effective treatments become available. Studies to explore the underlying aetiological factors for dementia associated with intellectual disability could help to identify novel protective and risk factors.
► Psychological distress was inversely related to perceived social support. ► Inverse association between physical health complaints and perceived social support. ► More adaptive waking cortisol response in caregivers that reported greater social support. Elevated psychological distress and concomitant dysregulation of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis has been implicated as one pathway that links the stress of caregiving with adverse health outcomes. This study assessed whether perceived social support might mitigate the psychological, endocrine and health consequences of caregiver stress in parents of children with autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Parental caregivers completed measures of psychological distress, perceived availability of social support and physical health complaints. To capture important parameters of the basal diurnal cortisol pattern, caregivers collected salivary cortisol at waking, 30 min post waking, 1200 h and 2200 h on two consecutive weekdays. Psychological distress and self reported physical health complaints were inversely related to scores on all support subscales: tangible, belonging, self esteem and appraisal. Results further revealed a significant, positive association between magnitude of the cortisol awakening response (CAR) and caregivers’ self esteem. As a buffer between the stress of caregiving and adverse physical health outcomes, social support acts to reduce stress appraisals and mitigate disturbances of the HPA axis. Moving forward, intervention programmes might seek to increase caregivers’ perceived availability of social resources.
It is well established that prenatal exposure to alcohol causes damage to the developing fetus, resulting in a spectrum of disorders known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). Although our understanding of the deficits and disturbances associated with FASDs is far from complete, there are consistent findings indicating these are serious, lifelong disabilities—especially when these disabilities result from central nervous system damage. Until recently, information and strategies for interventions specific to individuals with FASDs have been gleaned from interventions used with people with other disabilities and from the practical wisdom gained by parents and clinicians through trial and error or shared through informal networks. Although informative to a limited degree, such interventions have been implemented without being evaluated systematically or scientifically. The purpose of this article is to provide a brief overview of a general intervention framework developed for individuals with FASDs and the methods and general findings of five specific intervention research studies conducted within this framework. The studies evaluated five different interventions in five diverse locations in the United States, with different segments of the FASD population. Nonetheless, all participants showed improvement in the target behaviors or skills, with four studies achieving statistical significance in treatment outcomes. Important lessons emerged from these five interventions that may explain success: including parent education or training, teaching children specific skills they would usually learn by observation or abstraction, and integration into existing systems of treatment. A major implication of these research studies for families dealing with FASDs is that there are now interventions available that can address their children's needs and that can be presented as scientifically validated and efficacious to intervention agents such as schools, social services, and mental health providers. In the field of FASD research and clinical service, a common theme reported by families has been that clinicians and professionals have been reluctant to diagnose their children because there were no known effective treatments. Results of these five studies dispel that concern by demonstrating several interventions that have been shown to improve the lives of individuals with FASDs and their families.
Methodological rigor is a fundamental factor in the validity and credibility of the results of a meta-analysis. Following an increasing interest in single-case experimental design (SCED) meta-analyses, the current study investigates the methodological quality of SCED meta-analyses. We assessed the methodological quality of 178 SCED meta-analyses published between 1985 and 2015 through the modified Revised-Assessment of Multiple Systematic Reviews (R-AMSTAR) checklist. The main finding of the current review is that the methodological quality of the SCED meta-analyses has increased over time, but is still low according to the R-AMSTAR checklist. A remarkable percentage of the studies (93.80% of the included SCED meta-analyses) did not even reach the midpoint score (22, on a scale of 0–44). The mean and median methodological quality scores were 15.57 and 16, respectively. Relatively high scores were observed for “providing the characteristics of the included studies” and “doing comprehensive literature search”. The key areas of deficiency were “reporting an assessment of the likelihood of publication bias” and “using the methods appropriately to combine the findings of studies”. Although the results of the current review reveal that the methodological quality of the SCED meta-analyses has increased over time, still more efforts are needed to improve their methodological quality.