BINGHAMTON, NY – Children with autism spectrum disorder
(ASD) are more likely to experience bullying than children without ASD
and this bullying gets worse with age, according to new research from
Binghamton University, State University of New York.
Morton, a graduate student in the clinical psychology PhD program at
Binghamton University, aimed to conceptualize bullying in children with
ASD in order to specifically identify different bullying and behavior
types. Her research also emphasizes the need to establish better
definitions of bullying behaviors.
“This research is
important because it contributes to our understanding of how bullying is
nuanced,” said Morton. “This variability means it is crucial to
establish a definition for bullying and have standard assessments to
know when and what types of bullying are occurring.”
along with Binghamton psychologists Jennifer Gillis, Richard Mattson
and Raymond Romanczyk, focused this study on teachers and parents of
children with ASD, and community members without an ASD child.
Participants took a survey containing 80 scenarios of interactions
between two school-aged children. The scenarios varied from children
ages four to fifteen. Sixty-four of these scenarios contained a type of
bullying behavior (i.e. physical, verbal, interpersonal and cyber). The
participants were randomly presented with 16 scenarios, and were asked
to rate the severity of the interaction between the two children, as
well as indicate which types of bullying were present.
showed that a child’s increased age predicted higher bullying severity
ratings. The findings also showed that bullying among older children
with ASD is viewed as especially problematic by their parents, and that perceived
bullying severity differed according to the type of bullying behavior
(i.e., physical, verbal, interpersonal, and cyber).
paper emphasizes that bullying is a really broad construct,” said
Morton. “What any two people might be referring to when they use the
term ‘bullying’—regardless if they are parents, teachers, researchers,
etc.— likely differs, and perhaps in subtle ways.”
plans to further her research on this topic by focusing specifically on
the bullying behaviors that children with ASD experience compared to
children without ASD.
This research was conducted
through Binghamton University’s Institute for Child Development, which
offers early intervention services, speech services and more to children
and families in the Binghamton region.
Researchers will look at how CBD might help remedy schizophrenia, rheumatoid arthritis, insomnia, alcohol dependence and anorexia anxiety
The Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR) at University of
California San Diego School of Medicine, the nation’s oldest research
center for scientific inquiry into the safety and efficacy of cannabis,
has announced $3 million in research grants to explore new applications
of cannabis for a number of novel medical applications.
cannabis plant produces a number of compounds called cannabinoids, the
most widely known of which are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), its principle
psychoactive agent, and cannabidiol (CBD), which has been linked to
reduced pain, anxiety and inflammation in previous studies. The five new
studies all focus on CBD.
“Within the medical community, there
is a lot of interest in the role of medical cannabis and CBD,” said Igor
Grant, MD, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and
CMCR director. “There is a hope that it could be yet another useful
agent in some of these conditions, which are difficult to treat or
The five grants are funded by California Proposition
64, which was passed on the November 8, 2016 ballot and legalized
recreational marijuana in the state. The measure allocated tax revenue
for research on potential new drugs, treatment and health and safety
programs related to marijuana and medical cannabis.
marks CMCR’s first such funding. All five grants are for
proof-of-principle studies that would seek to establish the basis for
Effects of Cannabidiol versus Placebo as an Adjunct to Treatment in Early Psychosis
$825,000 grant was awarded to Kristin Cadenhead, MD, professor of
psychiatry at UC San Diego School of Medicine, and colleagues, who will
explore whether medical cannabis could serve as an alternative treatment
for patients facing early psychosis, a time when traditional
treatments, such as antipsychotic medications, are moderately effective
but produce debilitating side effects.
Therapeutic Response of Cannabidiol in Rheumatoid Arthritis
$825,000 grant was awarded to Veena Ranganath, MD, a rheumatologist at
UCLA Medical Center. Ranganath’s research focuses on CBD’s use an
anti-inflammatory agent, an application she hopes to exploit in treating
rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic autoimmune condition that affects an
estimated 1.5 million persons in the United States.
Cannabidol for Sedative/Hypnotic-sparing Management of Insomnia in Adults
$825,000 grant was awarded to Mariana Cherner, PhD, professor of
psychiatry at UC San Diego School of Medicine, and colleagues, who will
investigate whether CBD might be a viable alternative for sleeping pills
among patients with chronic sleep disorders.
are moderately safe but they can also be habit-forming and they do have
side effects, particularly in older people,” said Grant. “So many people
are prescribed sleeping pills so there’s good reason to look for
something that might be safer and not have that side effect profile.”
Cannabidiol as a Strategy to Treat Alcohol Dependence
$300,000 grant was awarded to Giordano de Guglielmo, PhD, assistant
adjunct professor in the UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and
Pharmaceutical Sciences, and colleagues. This study is the only one of
the five using an animal model. It will look at the role CBD might play
in reducing alcohol cravings and withdrawal syndromes among
alcohol-addicted rats, with findings perhaps applicable to future human
The Role of Cannabidiol in Regulating Meal Time Anxiety in Anorexia Nervosa
$300,000 grant was awarded to Emily Gray, MD, associate clinical
professor of psychology at UC San Diego School of Medicine, and
colleagues, who will explore whether CBD can help reduce a core symptom
of anorexia — anxiety about food — and whether or not that reduction
helps patients also reduce their food aversions overall.
A second round of CMCR grants is scheduled for 2020.
Language Skills Can Benefit from Parents’ Early Support, Interactions.
Dr. Meghan Swanson,
assistant professor at The University of Texas at Dallas, is the
corresponding author of the study, published online June 28 in Autism
Research. It is the first to extend research about the relationship
between caregiver speech and infant language development from typically
developing children to those with autism. The findings could inform
guidelines for earlier action in cases of developmental difficulties.
A new language-skills study that included infants later diagnosed with autism suggests that all children can benefit from exposure to more speech from their caregivers.
can diagnose autism at 24 months at the earliest; most people are
diagnosed much later. Early intervention, from birth to age 3, has shown
to be effective at supporting development in various cohorts of
children,” said Swanson, who joined the School of Behavioral and Brain
Sciences in January as the director of the Infant Neurodevelopment &
Language Research Lab, known as the Baby Brain Lab.
there has been a push to identify autism earlier or demonstrate that the
same techniques that help most children develop language skills also
benefit those eventually diagnosed with autism.
The study involved
96 babies, 60 of whom had an older sibling with autism. Swanson said
that this “baby-sibling” research design was necessary.
you study autism in infancy when you can’t diagnose it until the kids
are age 2 at least?” she asked. “The answer relies on the fact that
autism tends to run in families. These younger siblings have about a 20%
chance of being diagnosed eventually with autism.”
Indeed, 14 children from the high-risk subset of 60 were diagnosed with autism at 24 months.
study results directly tied the number of words an infant hears, as
well as the conversational turns he or she takes, to the performance on
the 24-month language evaluation — both for typical children and those
“One conclusion we’ve come to is that parents should
be persistent in talking with their babies even if they aren’t getting
responses,” Swanson said.
Swanson emphasized how important large,
longitudinal studies — tracking the same individuals across an extended
period — like this one are in her field.
“You have to follow the
same children for years to learn anything conclusive about development,”
she said. “You can’t simply shift from a group of 2-year-olds to a
different group of 3-year-olds and so on.”
misunderstanding of parents’ influence in autism has been a gradual
fight against outdated conceptions, Swanson said.
receive an autism diagnosis for a child, some might wonder, ‘What could I
have done differently?’” she said. “There is no scientific backing for
them to think in these terms. But there is a dark history in autism
where parents were wrongly blamed, which reinforced these thoughts. To
do research involving mothers as we have, you must approach that topic
with sensitivity but also firmly reinforce that the logic that parenting
style can cause autism is flawed.”
The children’s interactions
with caregivers were recorded over two days — once at nine months and
again at 15 months — via a LENA (Language Environment Analysis) audio
recorder. The children’s language skills were then assessed at 24
“The LENA software counts conversational turns anytime an
adult vocalizes and the infant responds, or vice versa,” Swanson said.
“The definition is not related to the content of the speech, just that
the conversation partner responds. We believe that responding to infants
when they talk supports infant development, regardless of eventual
The project was undertaken by the Infant Brain
Imaging Study (IBIS) network, a consortium of eight universities in the
United States and Canada funded by the National Institutes of Health as
an Autism Center of Excellence. Before joining UT Dallas, Swanson was a
postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
one of IBIS’ study sites. The other study sites are Children’s Hospital
of Philadelphia, Washington University in St. Louis, the University of
Washington in Seattle and the University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Dr. Joseph Piven, the IBIS network’s principal
investigator, is the director of the Carolina Institute for
Developmental Disabilities at UNC-Chapel Hill. For parents, the results
should highlight the long-term effect of initiating conversations from
an early age, he said.
“Talking to your kids makes a big
difference,” Piven said. “Any impact on early language skills will
almost certainly have an impact on a wide range of later abilities in
school-age children and significantly enhance their probability of
Swanson said the most important takeaway from this work
is that parents can make a significant difference in language
development, even in children who are eventually diagnosed with autism.
can be amazing agents of change in their infants’ lives from as early
as 9 months old,” she said. “If we teach parents how to provide their
children with a rich communication environment, it helps support their
children’s development. I find that incredibly hopeful — the power that
parents have to be these positive role models.”
In addition to UT
Dallas and the IBIS study sites, researchers from Temple University,
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, McGill
University and the University of Alberta contributed to this study. The
Simons Foundation also supported the research.
Teens who experience cyber bullying are more likely to suffer from poor sleep, which in turn raises levels of depression, found a University at Buffalo study.
Although research has
examined the relationship between online bullying and depression, the UB
study is one of few to explore the connection between cyber
victimization and sleep quality.
The study surveyed more than 800 adolescents for sleep quality, cyber aggression and depression.
will be presented by Misol Kwon, first author and doctoral student in
the UB School of Nursing, at SLEEP 2019, the 33rd annual meeting of the
Associated Professional Sleep Societies in San Antonio, Texas from June
“Cyber victimization on the internet and social media is a
unique form of peer victimization and an emerging mental health concern
among teens who are digital natives,” said Kwon. “Understanding these
associations supports the need to provide sleep hygiene education and
risk prevention and interventions to mistreated kids who show signs and
symptoms of depression.”
Nearly one third of teens have
experienced symptoms of depression, which, in addition to changes in
sleep pattern, include persistent irritability, anger and social
withdrawal, according to the U.S. Office of Adolescent Health.
nearly 15 percent of U.S. high school students report being bullied
electronically, says Kwon. At severe levels, depression may lead to
disrupted school performance, harmed relationships or suicide.
risks of allowing depression to worsen highlight the need for
researchers and clinicians to understand and target sleep quality and
other risk factors that have the potential to exacerbate the disorder.
research was supported by a $1.8 million grant from the National
Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in the National Institutes of
Health awarded to Jennifer Livingston, PhD, principal investigator and
associate professor in the UB School of Nursing.
School of Nursing investigators include Suzanne Dickerson, DNS,
professor and chair of the Department of Biobehavioral Health and
Clinical Sciences; and Eunhee Park, PhD, assistant professor. Young Seo,
doctoral candidate in the UB Graduate School of Education, is also an