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Dallas, TX, United States

Ranatunga I.,University of Texas at Arlington | Beltran M.,University of Texas at Arlington | Torres N.A.,University of Texas at Arlington | Bugnariu N.,University of North Texas Health Science Center | And 3 more authors.
Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics) | Year: 2013

In this paper we combine robot control and data analysis techniques into a system aimed at early detection and treatment of autism. A humanoid robot - Zeno is used to perform interactive upper body gestures which the human subject can imitate or initiate. The result of interaction is recorded using a motion capture system, and the similarity of gestures performed by human and robot is measured using the Dynamic Time Warping algorithm. This measurement is proposed as a quantitative similarity measure to objectively analyze the quality of the imitation interaction between the human and the robot. In turn, the clinical hypothesis is that this will serve as a consistent quantitative measurement, and can be used to obtain information about the condition and possible improvement of children with autism spectrum disorders. Experimental results with a small set of child subjects are presented to illustrate our approach. © Springer International Publishing 2013.

Kern J.K.,Autism Treatment Center | Kern J.K.,University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center | Geier D.A.,Commonwealth Edison | Geier D.A.,Institute of Chronic Illnesses Inc | And 2 more authors.
BioMetals | Year: 2010

The study purpose was to compare the quantitative results from tests for urinary porphyrins, where some of these porphyrins are known biomarkers of heavy metal toxicity, to the independent assessments from a recognized quantitative measurement, the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC), of specific domains of autistic disorders symptoms (Speech/Language, Sociability, Sensory/Cognitive Awareness, and Health/Physical/Behavior) in a group of children having a clinical diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). After a Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) evaluation to assess the development of each child in this study and aid in confirming their classification, and an ATEC was completed by a parent, a urinary porphyrin profile sample was collected and sent out for blinded analysis. Urinary porphyrins from twenty-four children, 2-13 years of age, diagnosed with autism or PDD-NOS were compared to their ATEC scores as well as their scores in the specific domains (Speech/Language, Sociability, Sensory/Cognitive Awareness, and Health/Physical/Behavior) assessed by ATEC. Their urinary porphyrin samples were evaluated at Laboratoire Philippe Auguste (which is an ISO-approved clinical laboratory). The results of the study indicated that the participants' overall ATEC scores and their scores on each of the ATEC subscales (Speech/Language, Sociability, Sensory/Cognitive Awareness, and Health/Physical/Behavior) were linearly related to urinary porphyrins associated with mercury toxicity. The results show an association between the apparent level of mercury toxicity as measured by recognized urinary porphyrin biomarkers of mercury toxicity and the magnitude of the specific hallmark features of autism as assessed by ATEC. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

Kern J.K.,Genetic Consultants of Dallas | Kern J.K.,Autism Treatment Center | Kern J.K.,University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center | Geier D.A.,Commonwealth Edison | And 4 more authors.
Toxicological and Environmental Chemistry | Year: 2011

The purpose of this blinded study was to evaluate potential environmental toxicity in a cohort of neurotypical children (n = 28) living in a suburban area of north-central Texas in the United States (US) with a comparable age- and gender-matched cohort of neurotypical children (n = 8) living in a suburban area of southeastern France using urinary porphyrin testing: uroporphyrin (uP), heptacarboxyporphyrin (7cxP), hexacarboxyporphyrin (6cxP), pentacarboxypor-phyrin (5cxP), precoproporphyrin (prcP), and coproporphyrin (cP). Results showed significantly elevated 6cxP, prcP (an atypical, mercury-specific porphy-rin), and cP levels, and increasing trends in 5cxP levels, among neurotypical children in the USA compared to children in France. Data suggest that in US neurotypical children, there is a significantly increased body-burden of mercury (Hg) compared to the body-burden of Hg in the matched neurotypical children in France. The presence of lead contributing to the higher levels of cP also needs to be considered. Further, other factors including genetics can not be completely ruled out. © 2011 Taylor & Francis.

Kern J.K.,Genetic Consultants of Dallas Centers | Kern J.K.,Autism Treatment Center | Kern J.K.,University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center | Geier D.A.,Commonwealth Edison | And 5 more authors.
Pediatrics International | Year: 2011

Background: Recent studies suggest that children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have significantly increased levels of urinary porphyrins associated with mercury (Hg) toxicity, including pentacarboxyporphyrin (5cxP), precoproporphyrin (prcP), and coproporphyrin (cP), compared to typically developing controls. However, these initial studies were criticized because the controls were not age- and gender-matched to the children diagnosed with an ASD. Methods: Urinary porphyrin biomarkers in a group of children (2-13 years of age) diagnosed with an ASD (n= 20) were compared to matched (age, gender, race, location, and year tested) group of typically developing controls (n= 20). Results: Participants diagnosed with an ASD had significantly increased levels of 5cxP, prcP, and cP in comparison to controls. No significant differences were found in non-Hg associated urinary porphyrins (uroporphyrins, hexacarboxyporphyrin, and heptacarboxyporphyrin). There was a significantly increased odds ratio for an ASD diagnosis relative to controls among study participants with precoproporphyrin (odds ratio = 15.5, P < 0.01) and coproporphyrin (odds ratio = 15.5, P < 0.01) levels in the second through fourth quartiles in comparison to the first quartile. Conclusion: These results suggest that the levels of Hg-toxicity-associated porphyrins are higher in children with an ASD diagnosis than controls. Although the pattern seen (increased 5cxP, prcP, and cP) is characteristic of Hg toxicity, the influence of other factors, such as genetics and other metals cannot be completely ruled out. © 2011 The Authors.

Kern J.K.,Autism Treatment Center | Kern J.K.,Institute of Chronic Illnesses | Kern J.K.,University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center | Graver C.R.,Autism Treatment Center | And 6 more authors.
Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine | Year: 2013

The purpose of the study was to explore a low-cost intervention that targets an increasingly common developmental disorder. The study was a blinded, exploratory evaluation of the PlayWisely program on autism symptoms and essential learning foundation skills (attention, recognition, and memory skills) in children with a diagnosis of autism, autism spectrum disorder (ASD†), pervasive developmental disorder - not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome (AS). Eighteen children, 1 to 10 years of age, were evaluated using the Childhood Autism Rating Scale, Second Edition (CARS2); the PlayWisely Interactive Test of Attention, Recognition, and Memory Skills; Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC), and the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT). There were significant treatment effects for the PlayWisely measure on the yellow Sets that examine recognition; Purple Sets that examine brain region agility and early memory skills; Blue Sets that examine phonemic awareness and recognition; and for the Total Sets, with a similar trend toward improvement in the green Sets that examine perception and Red Sets that examine attention. No other measures reached statistical significance. The results suggest that PlayWisely can improve recognition, brain region agility, phonemic awareness, letter recognition, and early memory skills in ASD. It was observed by the parents, coaches, and study investigators that the children who were less than 3 years of age showed improvements in autism symptoms; however, the group was too small to reach statistical significance. Future studies are needed to see if this intervention can mitigate autism symptoms in very young children with ASD. © 2013.

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