THE AUTISM PROJECT
Communication Deficits in Autism: A GeneticaLens Database Participants:
Catherine McClain, MD, MPT, Developmental Pediatrician, Director
of the CDD Associate Professor, UNM Department of Pediatrics; Chief
of Development and Disability, UNM Department of Pediatrics; Medical
Director of the Autism Diagnostic Clinic, The Center for Development
and Disability, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque,
NM. Pat Osbourn, MA, CCC, CED, Director, CDD Neurodevelopmental
Division; Director, CDD Autism Diagnostic Clinic, The Center for
Development and Disability, University of New Mexico School of Medicine,
Albuquerque, NM and Louise Tiranoff Productions, Brooklyn, New York.
Background: While there is agreement on the general terms
used to describe the behavioral differences in autism, unless one
has worked with many children with this diagnosis, understanding
the behavioral manifestation of specific terms is difficult. Observational
data on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) would be a useful teaching
tool because of the broad range of behaviors seen in this disorder.
GeneticaLens, a comprehensive database of video, textual, and photographic
data, will greatly facilitate the diagnosis of, and improve the
understanding of communication deficits seen in ASD. As an information
system, GeneticaLens links text description of behaviors to motion
pictures. The visual database developed through this project will
aid educators in teaching others about the various communication
behaviors seen in children with ASD.
Aims: The specific aims of this project are 1) to establish
a CD-ROM, video database of observable communicative behaviors in
children with ASD and to compare these behaviors with age matched
children with typical development, Down syndrome, Angelman syndrome
and other communication disorders and 2) to field test the use of
the video database in teaching professionals such as pediatricians,
speech-language pathologists, psychologists and others to recognize
observable communicative behaviors in children with ASD and to be
able to distinguish them from other disorders.
Activities: While there is much written on the communication
behaviors in people with autism, there is little available that
connects these text descriptions with the visually observable expression
of these behaviors. We propose to address this by filming individuals
with ASD of different ages and backgrounds in a wide range of settings
and contexts. These films will then be catalogued, sorted and edited
according to the GeneticaLens "template" established in the making
of The Angelman Project, so that there is clear understanding of
the relationship of the motion picture to a set of descriptive terms,
on which experts in ASD agree. Through the use of moving images,
The Angelman Project demonstrated many aspects of communication
such as "receptive communication skills", that are difficult, if
not impossible, to explain with the use of text alone. (See examples)
Long Term Goal: This pilot project will be part of a much
larger project. The long term goal is to provide a significant decision
support tool for healthcare professionals, researchers, and therapists
by developing a web-based, easily accessible, video database addressing
issues in ASD ranging from diagnosis, intervention and educational
strategies to integration into the community.
Funding: We have applied to the National Alliance for Autism
Research (NAAR) for funding. As yet, no funding has been received.
Last Updated August 20, 2002.
If you are interested in getting involved in this project or would
like to find out more, Contact Us
Also, read about our Pilot Study Initiated To Create the Groundwork
for an Angelman profile within the Autism assessment using "GeneticaLens."