Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Autism may be linked to faulty prenatal brain growth in at least some kids, small study says

Autism may be linked to faulty prenatal brain growth in at least some kids, small study says: A small study that examined brains from children who died found abnormal patterns of cell growth in autistic children. The research bolsters evidence that something before birth might cause autism, at least in some cases.

Clusters of disorganized brain cells were discovered in tissue samples from brain regions important for regulating social functioning, emotions and communication — which can all be troublesome for children with autism.

A mother's obesity only weakly linked to autism - UPI.com

A mother's obesity only weakly linked to autism - UPI.com: A father's obesity could be a greater risk factor for autism than maternal obesity an international research team suggest.
Dr. Pal Suren of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the University College London's Institute of Child Health and colleagues at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York, New York State Psychiatric Institute, University of Oslo, University of Bristol, University of Bergen, Lovisenberg Hospital in Oslo analyzed data of 92,909 Norwegian children at ages 3, 5 and 7. By the end of the follow-up period of the study, the 92,909 children were aged 4 to 13.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Electroconvulsive therapy for autism: ECT eases self-injurious behavior.

Electroconvulsive therapy for autism: ECT eases self-injurious behavior.: W
hen I tell people about the electroconvulsive therapy my autistic 15-year-old son Jonah has been getting for the past four years, the response has been ... surprise, certainly. Curiosity. Interest. No horror, no judgment. But that’s to be expected from those close to my family: They know we spent the better part of a decade struggling to manage Jonah’s aggressive and self-injurious behaviors. Countless therapies, behavior plans, medication trials, and even an almost yearlong hospitalization at one of the nation’s premier facilities failed to stop his frequent, intense, and unpredictable rages.

Could ECT be effective in autism? [Med Hypotheses. 2004] - PubMed - NCBI

Could ECT be effective in autism? [Med Hypotheses. 2004] - PubMed - NCBI: Autism is increasingly diagnosed, but therapeutic options are limited in many children. ECT is considered as a safe, effective, and life-saving treatment in people of all ages who suffer from affective disorders, acute psychosis, and, in particular, catatonia. There are recent speculations that certain types of autism may be the earliest expression of catatonia and that both disorders have identical risk factors. Therefore, ECT may improve autism and, if started early enough, may prevent further development of autistic symptoms in some children. The use of ECT in autism has never been systematically assessed. There have been two large ECT studies in children in the 1940s. Autism was not assessed in these studies because the autistic syndrome was just then being recognized as a separate entity. Findings from these studies add little to the hypothesis that ECT may be effective in autistic children, but attest to the safety and feasibility of ECT in children

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

How to Think About the Risk of Autism - NYTimes.com

How to Think About the Risk of Autism - NYTimes.com: MANY known risks for autism occur during late pregnancy and birth. Premature birth is a risk for developmental disability, including autism. Notably, elective cesarean section is associated with an autism risk ratio of 1.9. Since a substantial proportion of early deliveries are elective, without a compelling medical reason, this risk is preventable.

A highly underappreciated prenatal risk is stress. For pregnant women who take the sometimes-wrenching step of emigrating to a new country, for example, the risk ratio is 2.3. In the fifth through ninth months of pregnancy, getting caught in a hurricane strike zone carries a risk ratio of about 3. Maternal post-traumatic stress disorder during pregnancy is associated with a similar effect. These events are likely to trigger the secretion of stress hormones, which can enter the fetus’s bloodstream and affect the developing brain for a lifetime. Stressors may also lead to maternal illness, the immune response to which may interfere with brain development.

Friday, March 28, 2014

U.S. autism rates up 30% in two years; N.J.'s is highest of states studied

U.S. autism rates up 30% in two years; N.J.'s is highest of states studied: Boyle said there also is a need for more research into what causes the disorder, which is thought to result from a combination of genetic and unknown environmental factors.

"More is understood about autism than ever before," she said, "but these numbers are an important reminder of the need for answers."

The rates rose 30 percent between 2008 and 2010. They have more than doubled both nationwide and in New Jersey since the first report was done in 2000. The CDC estimates that 1.2 million people under the age of 21 are on the autism spectrum.

New study sheds more light on when — and where — autism develops in the brain | Deseret News

New study sheds more light on when — and where — autism develops in the brain | Deseret News: A small exploratory study of the brains of children who have autism has shown that some abnormalities appear to form early in fetal development. The differences are seen in certain brain layers.

The research, led by Eric Courchesne and Rich Stoner from the University of California San Diego Autism Center of Excellence, is published in the March 27 New England Journal of Medicine.

CDC: Autism rate increases 30 percent between 2008 and 2010 | www.ajc.com

CDC: Autism rate increases 30 percent between 2008 and 2010 | www.ajc.com: The CDC report has some interesting data about how autism affects certain demographics. Boys are about five times more likely to be diagnosed than girls. One in 42 boys were diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, compared to only 1 in 182 girls. The number of children identified ranged widely from 1 in 175 in parts of Alabama to 1 in 45 in areas of New Jersey.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Trained in calmness, dogs help autistic kids

Trained in calmness, dogs help autistic kids: The two Labrador retrievers are weeks away from officially graduating as Heeling Autism dogs, having successfully shown that nothing — not ear or tail pulling, chairs sailing over their heads, screaming, kicking meltdowns or inquisitive pokes at their toenails — will do more than elicit a doggy grin and a wag.

"They're really amazing with the kids. These dogs are so calm," said Michelle Rose, who teaches a self-contained special education BOCES class at Mahopac's Fulmar School, where the two dogs have visited every other Friday since January. "They will be in homes where they have to be used to unexplained things, very loud things. It's a win-win for both of us."

Monday, March 17, 2014

First preliminary results of an observation of ... [J Diet Suppl. 2009] - PubMed - NCBI

First preliminary results of an observation of ... [J Diet Suppl. 2009] - PubMed - NCBI: Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder, with impairments in reciprocal social interaction and verbal and nonverbal communication. There is often the need of psychopharmacological intervention in addition to psychobehavioral therapies, but benefits are limited by adverse side effects. For that reason, Panax ginseng, which is comparable with Piracetam, a substance effective in the treatment of autism, was investigated for possible improvement of autistic symptoms. There was some improvement, which suggests some benefits of Panax ginseng, at least as an add-on therapy.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Teaching independence to adolescents with autism can boost chances for success after high school

Teaching independence to adolescents with autism can boost chances for success after high school: "We explored many factors that contribute to the poor outcomes people with autism often experience," said Kara Hume, co-principal investigator of FPG's Center on Secondary Education for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (CSESA). "It's clear that teaching independence to students with autism should be a central focus of their activities in high school."

According to Hume, independence is the biggest indicator of which students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are likely to live on their own, have a job, and participate in their communities after high school. "However, adolescents with ASD have trouble observing their peers and picking up on skills important for developing independence," she said.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Gene Study Offers Clues to Why Autism Strikes More Males – WebMD

Gene Study Offers Clues to Why Autism Strikes More Males – WebMD: It turns out that girls tend not to develop autism when only mild genetic abnormalities exist, the researchers said. But when they are diagnosed with the disorder, they are more likely to have more extreme genetic mutations than boys who show the same symptoms.

"Girls tolerate neurodevelopmental mutations more than boys do. This is really what the study shows," said study author Sebastien Jacquemont, an assistant professor of genetic medicine at the University Hospital of Lausanne, in Switzerland.

"To push a girl over the threshold for autism or any of these neurodevelopmental disorders, it takes more of these mutations," Jacquemont added. "It's about resilience to genetic insult."

Scientists Uncover Trigger for Most Common Form of Intellectual Disability and Autism | Weill Cornell Newsroom | Weill Cornell Medical College

Scientists Uncover Trigger for Most Common Form of Intellectual Disability and Autism | Weill Cornell Newsroom | Weill Cornell Medical College: Fragile X syndrome occurs mostly in boys, causing intellectual disability as well as telltale physical, behavioral and emotional traits. While researchers have known for more than two decades that the culprit behind the disease is an unusual mutation characterized by the excess repetition of a particular segment of the genetic code, they weren't sure why the presence of a large number of these repetitions — 200 or more — sets the disease process in motion.

Using stem cells from donated human embryos that tested positive for fragile X syndrome, the scientists discovered that early on in fetal development, messenger RNA — a template for protein production — begins sticking itself onto the fragile X syndrome gene's DNA. This binding appears to gum up the gene, making it inactive and unable to produce a protein crucial to the transmission of signals between brain cells.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Drug shows promise in kids with autism, researchers say

Drug shows promise in kids with autism, researchers say: Building on what they hope will be an important insight into the cause of autism, French researchers are testing a high blood pressure medication on dozens of European children with autism.

The team, which has a financial stake in the drug, has tried it on 30 children with autism; now they are testing it in more, hoping to improve core characteristics of autism for the first time.

Serotonin may be autism key - SFGate

Serotonin may be autism key - SFGate: The hormone that comes from vitamin D affects two genes that control levels of serotonin in the brain and in the gut, and improving consumption of the nutrient could help prevent autism or improve behavioral symptoms of the disorder, according to scientists at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Asthma as a risk factor for autism?

Asthma as a risk factor for autism?: The results reported by Po-Hsin Tsai and colleagues* detailing the presence of asthma as a potential risk factor for a subsequent diagnosis of autism provide some food for thought. Based on the examination of a large health insurance database based in Taiwan, researchers identified over 2000 preschool children diagnosed with asthma – a chronic inflammatory disease affecting the airways – and compared them with a non-asthmatic control group, looking for any subsequent evidence of a psychiatrist diagnosed autism spectrum disorder label (based on ICD-9 criteria) up to 8 years later.

Monday, March 3, 2014

PsychiatryOnline | Psychiatric Services | STRoNG Intervention for Military Families With Young Children

PsychiatryOnline | Psychiatric Services | STRoNG Intervention for Military Families With Young Children: Military families face unique challenges. Although many exhibit remarkable resilience in the face of hardship, a steep rise in rates of divorce, child behavior problems, and parental mental illness during and after deployment highlights the need for family support. Approximately 40% of children in military families are under age five. Separation from one parent, coupled with heightened distress of the parent left behind, places young children at risk. Reunification poses challenges as well, including the need to reestablish relationships, roles, and routines and to accommodate combat-related injuries or illness. As one father in our program shared, “He was born, and I was deployed before he was walking. And when I came back, he was standing, gripping onto (his mother’s) leg—looking at me like, ‘That’s who?’ She had to tell him, ‘That’s Daddy.’ ” Another father commented, “When I came back, it was difficult . . . trying to find that closeness and trying to find that reconnect.” Thus the challenges faced by military families during this unique period require special attention and support.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Effects of a Brief Early Start Denver Model (ESDM)–Based Parent Intervention on Toddlers at Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Effects of a Brief Early Start Denver Model (ESDM)–Based Parent Intervention on Toddlers at Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Randomized Controlled Trial: There was no effect of group assignment on parent–child interaction characteristics or on any child outcomes. Both groups of parents improved interaction skills, and both groups of children demonstrated progress. Parents receiving P-ESDM demonstrated significantly stronger working alliances with their therapists than did the community group. Children in the community group received significantly more intervention hours than those in the P-ESDM group. For the group as a whole, both younger child age at the start of intervention and a greater number of intervention hours were positively related to the degree of improvement in children's behavior for most variables.

The Impact of Parent-Delivered Intervention on Parents of Very Young Children with Autism - Springer

The Impact of Parent-Delivered Intervention on Parents of Very Young Children with Autism - Springer: This study investigated the impact of a parent-coaching intervention based on the Early Start Denver Model (P-ESDM) on parenting-related stress and sense of competence. This was part of a multisite, randomized trial comparing P-ESDM (n = 49) with community intervention (n = 49) for children aged 12 and 24 months. The P-ESDM group reported no increase in parenting stress, whereas the Community group experienced an increase over the same 3-month period. Parental sense of competence did not differ. Number of negative life events was a significant predictor of parenting stress and sense of competence across both groups. This suggests that a parent-coaching intervention may help maintain parental adjustment directly after a child is diagnosed with ASD.

A Systematic Review of Early Intensive Intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorders

A Systematic Review of Early Intensive Intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorders: Studies of Lovaas-based approaches and early intensive behavioral intervention variants and the Early Start Denver Model resulted in some improvements in cognitive performance, language skills, and adaptive behavior skills in some young children with ASDs, although the literature is limited by methodologic concerns.

Parent and Family Impact of Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Review and Proposed Model for Intervention Evaluation - Springer

Parent and Family Impact of Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Review and Proposed Model for Intervention Evaluation - Springer: Raising a child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be an overwhelming experience for parents and families. The pervasive and severe deficits often present in children with ASD are associated with a plethora of difficulties in caregivers, including decreased parenting efficacy, increased parenting stress, and an increase in mental and physical health problems compared with parents of both typically developing children and children with other developmental disorders. In addition to significant financial strain and time pressures, high rates of divorce and lower overall family well-being highlight the burden that having a child with an ASD can place on families. These parent and family effects reciprocally and negatively impact the diagnosed child and can even serve to diminish the positive effects of intervention. However, most interventions for ASD are evaluated only in terms of child outcomes, ignoring parent and family factors that may have an influence on both the immediate and long-term effects of therapy. It cannot be assumed that even significant improvements in the diagnosed child will ameliorate the parent and family distress already present, especially as the time and expense of intervention can add further family disruption. Thus, a new model of intervention evaluation is proposed, which incorporates these factors and better captures the transactional nature of these relationships.

Impact of a Contextual Intervention on Child Participation and Parent Competence Among Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Pretest–Posttest Repeated-Measures Design

Impact of a Contextual Intervention on Child Participation and Parent Competence Among Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Pretest–Posttest Repeated-Measures Design: Results indicated that parents felt more competent and children significantly increased participation in everyday life, suggesting that this approach is an effective occupational therapy intervention.

A randomised group comparison controlled trial of ‘preschoolers with autism’: A parent education and skills training intervention for young children with autistic disorder

A randomised group comparison controlled trial of ‘preschoolers with autism’: A parent education and skills training intervention for young children with autistic disorder: Parent education and behaviour management resulted in significant improvement in adaptive behaviour and autism symptoms at 6 months follow-up for children with greater delays in adaptive behaviour. Parent education and behaviour management was superior to parent education and counselling. We conclude that a 20-week parent education programme including skills training for parents of young children with autistic disorder provides significant improvements in child adaptive behaviour and symptoms of autism for low-functioning children.

A Parent-Mediated Intervention to Increase Responsive Parental Behaviors and Child Communication in Children with ASD: A Randomized Clinical Trial - Springer

A Parent-Mediated Intervention to Increase Responsive Parental Behaviors and Child Communication in Children with ASD: A Randomized Clinical Trial - Springer: Longitudinal research has demonstrated that responsive parental behaviors reliably predict subsequent language gains in children with autism spectrum disorder. To investigate the underlying causal mechanisms, we conducted a randomized clinical trial of an experimental intervention (Focused Playtime Intervention, FPI) that aims to enhance responsive parental communication (N = 70). Results showed a significant treatment effect of FPI on responsive parental behaviors. Findings also revealed a conditional effect of FPI on children’s expressive language outcomes at 12-month follow up, suggesting that children with baseline language skills below 12 months (n = 24) are most likely to benefit from FPI. Parents of children with more advanced language skills may require intervention strategies that go beyond FPI’s focus on responsive communication.

Intervention targeting development of socially synchronous engagement in toddlers with autism spectrum disorder: a randomized controlled trial - Landa - 2010 - Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry - Wiley Online Library

Intervention targeting development of socially synchronous engagement in toddlers with autism spectrum disorder: a randomized controlled trial - Landa - 2010 - Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry - Wiley Online Library: A significant treatment effect was found for socially engaged imitation (p = .02), with more than doubling (17% to 42%) of imitated acts paired with eye contact in the Interpersonal Synchrony group after the intervention. This skill was generalized to unfamiliar contexts and maintained through follow-up. Similar gains were observed for initiation of joint attention and shared positive affect, but between-group differences did not reach statistical significance. A significant time effect was found for all outcomes (p < .001); greatest change occurred during the intervention period, particularly in the Interpersonal Synchrony group.

The effects of a parent-focused intervention for children with a recent diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder on parenting stress and competence

The effects of a parent-focused intervention for children with a recent diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder on parenting stress and competence: This paper reports on the effects of two types of parent-focused intervention, for parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) aged 2–4 years and within 6 months of diagnosis, on parent's perceptions of stress and competence. Interventions aimed to decrease parenting stress and increase parenting competence by embedding empirically supported parenting strategies within family routines. Families were assigned to a professionally supported intervention that included a workshop and 10 home-visits (n = 17) or to a self-directed video based intervention (n = 22). Development in social communication was greater for children of families receiving professional support as measured by a caregiver questionnaire but not on a clinically measured behavior sample. Improvements in adaptive behavior were greater for children in the professionally supported intervention when relatively low adaptive behavior scores had been demonstrated at pre-intervention. The professionally supported intervention resulted in reduced child-related parenting stress and increased parenting self-efficacy relative to the self-directed intervention. The findings support the importance of providing individualized information and professional support around the time of diagnosis for families who have a child with ASD.

A pilot randomized controlled trial of DIR/Floortime™ parent training intervention for pre-school children with autistic spectrum disorders

A pilot randomized controlled trial of DIR/Floortime™ parent training intervention for pre-school children with autistic spectrum disorders: This pilot study was designed to test the efficacy of adding home-based Developmental, Individual-Difference, Relationship-Based (DIR)/Floortime™ intervention to the routine care of preschool children with autistic spectrum disorder. Measures of functional emotional development and symptom severity were taken. It was found that after the parents added home-based DIR/Floortime™ intervention at an average of 15.2 hours/week for three months, the intervention group made significantly greater gains in all three measures employed in the study: Functional Emotional Assessment Scale (FEAS) (F = 5.1, p = .031), Childhood Autism Rating Scale (F = 2.1, p = .002), and the Functional Emotional Questionnaires (F = 6.8, p = .006). This study confirms the positive results obtained by a previous DIR pilot study (Solomon et al., 2007).

An Early Social Engagement Intervention for Young Children with Autism and their Parents - Springer

An Early Social Engagement Intervention for Young Children with Autism and their Parents - Springer: The social vulnerabilities associated with young children with autism are recognized as important intervention targets due to their influence on subsequent development. Current research suggests that interventions that combine motivational and social components can create meaningful changes in social functioning. Simultaneously, it is hypothesized that parent delivery of such strategies can invoke increases in these core social behaviors and parent engagement. This study examined the effects of teaching parents to implement a social engagement intervention with their children. The results indicated that the use of this parent-delivered social intervention led to (a) increases in their children’s use of eye contact, directed positive affect, and verbal initiations, (b) increases in parent positive affect and synchronous engagement, and (c) generalized increases in parent and child behaviors.

A Pilot Study of Parent Training in Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Disruptive Behavior - Springer

A Pilot Study of Parent Training in Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Disruptive Behavior - Springer: Guidance on effective interventions for disruptive behavior in young children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) is limited. We present feasibility and initial efficacy data on a structured parent training program for 16 children (ages 3–6) with ASD and disruptive behavior. The 6-month intervention included 11 Core and up to 2 Optional sessions. The program was acceptable to parents as evidenced by an attendance rate of 84 % for Core sessions. Fourteen of 16 families completed the treatment. An independent clinician rated 14 of 16 subjects as much improved or very much improved at Week 24. Using last observation carried forward, the parent-rated Aberrant Behavior Checklist-Irritability subscale decreased 54 % from 16.00 (SD = 9.21) to 7.38 (SD = 6.15).

Issues and Theoretical Constructs Regarding Parent Education for Autism Spectrum Disorders - Springer

Issues and Theoretical Constructs Regarding Parent Education for Autism Spectrum Disorders - Springer: Participation of parents of children with autism is commonplace in most comprehensive intervention programs, yet, there is limited research relating to the best practices in this area. This article provides an overview of parent education programs for young children with autism and details data-driven procedures which are associated with improved parent and child outcomes. In addition, we provide a troubleshooting guide based on the literature for professionals regarding a variety of complex issues which may arise during parent education.

UC Davis MIND Institute Helps Parents Find Right Treatments For Autism « CBS Sacramento

UC Davis MIND Institute Helps Parents Find Right Treatments For Autism « CBS Sacramento: But the therapy given to each of their children is very different. Both incorporate play and parent interaction, but the techniques have separate foundations.

Jackson Vestal’s mother started with the well-known and scientifically studied method of applied behavior analysis. It focuses on rewarding her 7-year-old’s good behavior.

“We tried ABA for four years,” she said, “and I’m not saying it didn’t help. It did help to a certain point, and then we got stuck.”

Is The CDC Hiding Data About Mercury, Vaccines, And Autism? - Forbes

Is The CDC Hiding Data About Mercury, Vaccines, And Autism? - Forbes: You know the rule. The answer is, “No.” But the assertion has gone viral on social media thanks to the zombie-like resurrection of a long-told, oft-debunked story that the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is hiding its own data linking autism and mercury in vaccines. If you see such assertions in your timelines and newsfeeds (sample headline: “CDC Caught Hiding Data Showing Mercury in Vaccines Linked to Autism”), send the disseminators here. Why? Read on.

Risk for Psychiatric Issues in Children with Older Fathers - Kansas City infoZine

Risk for Psychiatric Issues in Children with Older Fathers - Kansas City infoZine: The authors studied people born in Sweden from 1973 to 2001 and estimated the risk of psychiatric problems (autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, psychosis, bipolar disorder, suicide attempt and substance abuse) and academic trouble (failing grades and low educational attainment of 10 years of less in school) using siblings, cousins and first-born cousins.



Siblings born to fathers 45 years and older were at higher risk for autism, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, psychosis, bipolar disorder, suicide attempts, substance abuse, failing a grade and low educational attainment compared with siblings born to fathers 20 to 24 years old, the authors found.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Researchers verify link between vitamin D and potential autism cure - The Daily Californian

Researchers verify link between vitamin D and potential autism cure - The Daily Californian: Though scientists have previously noted the relationship between vitamin D and autism, the new research, published Feb. 20, highlighted the link between vitamin D and serotonin, thus confirming and explaining what were first only speculations as to the causes of the disorder.

“The more we dug, the more we were sure our theory was right, because it explained so much,” Ames said.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Air pollution exposure may increase risk of autism, schizophrenia | Fox News

Air pollution exposure may increase risk of autism, schizophrenia | Fox News: Researchers at the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS) annual meeting in Chicago recently detailed the impact that constant exposure to air pollution may have on the developing brain. According to the panel, a series of mouse models have suggested that constant inhalation of air pollution may lead to enlargement of the brain’s ventricles – a hallmark of neurodevelopmental disorders such as schizophrenia and autism

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Synesthesia Linked to Autism | Psych Central News

Synesthesia Linked to Autism | Psych Central News: New findings suggest that people with autism have a higher than average chance of also having synesthesia, the condition in which the senses are mixed.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Early Warning Signs of Autism In Toddlers - Oneindia Boldsky

Early Warning Signs of Autism In Toddlers - Oneindia Boldsky: The moment you realise that your little one has autism, you may feel like you world has come crashing down. But it is important to move on with confidence to raise your dear one by providing all the support and care he/she needs. Diagnosing autism at an early stage has great importance in deciding the future of your toddler. The effect of autism differs in toddlers, some may have mild problems, while some others will have to struggle a bit more. Whatever it is, early intervention and treatment will make a positive difference to your toddler’s development.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

6-month-old infants later diagnosed with autism divert gaze from facial features

6-month-old infants later diagnosed with autism divert gaze from facial features: From birth, infants naturally show a preference for human contact and interaction, including faces and voices. These basic predispositions to social stimuli are altered in individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

A new study published in Biological Psychiatry this week, from researchers at the Yale University School of Medicine, now reports that 6-month-old infants later diagnosed with autism divert their gaze from facial features when that face is speaking.

Clinical research: Birth complications increase autism risk — SFARI.org - Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative

Clinical research: Birth complications increase autism risk — SFARI.org - Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative: In premature infants, bleeding inside the skull and respiratory distress requiring a certain type of ventilator may each contribute to an increased risk of autism, suggests a large study published in the January issue of The Journal of Pediatrics1.

Gene that influences receptive joint attention in chimpanzees gives insight into autism

Gene that influences receptive joint attention in chimpanzees gives insight into autism: Following another's gaze or looking in the direction someone is pointing, two examples of receptive joint attention, is significantly heritable according to new study results from researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University. Determining such communicative cues are significantly heritable means variation in this ability has a genetic basis, which led the researchers to the vasopressin receptor gene, known for its role in social bonding.

AUTISM CURE: Beware of Junk Science and Wild Speculation

There are many remedies for autism touted as a cure all or panacea for many things and sometimes even everything related to the disorder. Many of these remedies, which often prey on desperate parents who want the best for their child, are promoted by both the well intentioned yet poor scientists, and those seeking monetary gain and/or fame.



When Deborah Fein <  http://today.uconn.edu/blog/2010/09/recovery-from-autism/ > and others published Can Children with Autism Recover? If So How? < http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19009353  >; in 2008 she believed that with the right intervention at the right time 10-20 % of children with autism or ASD symptoms could recover, or have their symptoms significantly ameliorated. Additional research into new therapies aligned with behavioral (such as ABA) or developmental (such as DIR Floortime) or a combination (such as the Denver Model) have improved outcomes for many children since then.

It is however; crucial for any parent to understand that autism really is a spectrum of disorders with common symptoms but an extremely wide variety of causes to include many interacting risk factors and casual events. There is no one cure because there is not just one singular homogeneous disorder.

What appears to work for one child could easily be more of a coincidence than a cause and effect resulting from the touted cure. Even when you have scientific replication of a particular intervention or treatment and a subsequent cure or significant amelioration, you may have only found something that works for one particular subgroup of the disorder. For example, research at the UC Davis Mind Institute has found a particular biological intervention which brings about significant amelioration in about 1% of children and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). For anyone to tout this as a cure all (which UC Davis does not do) for ASD would be incredibly irresponsible.

We do know that a large percentage of children with ASD also have co-occurring gastrointestinal problems which are alleviated through nutrition; though, this is rarely a complete cure for their ASD. We also know that good nutrition in general benefits everyone.

One of the manifestations of poor science and wild speculation which is prevalent in the ASD world but has probably been around since soon after the beginning of mankind is the tendency to jump to unfounded and unproven connections. Some of these speculations are as wild as saying that since medication A helps a particular person with heart disease it will also help someone with lung cancer because the two organs are housed closely together in the body. Though sometimes science has found another benefit for a particular medication, such a wild leap of speculation could be extremely dangerous without rigorous scientific examination.
As a youth I have a vivid memory of my parents sitting in the living room of our home with friends discussing medications which seemed to help them and offering to share those medications so another could try it out. At the time I had the thought, ‘no wonder kids have drug problems.’ There is sometimes a fairly cavalier attitude about medication, interventions, and even some supplements, which can be understandably caused by desperation on the part of some and laziness on the part of others. The use of good Critical Thinking <; http://criticalthinkinginfoanddiscussion.blogspot.com/ >; skills as well as asking for feedback from a wide variety of professionals in the field can be helpful in understanding the difference between junk science and wild speculative claims and solid research.



Are there interventions which can significantly improve the symptoms of ASD for many children? Yes.

Are there interventions which can significantly improve the root causes of a few with ASD? Possibly.

Are there interventions which can significantly improve behavioral issues for most children with ASD? Yes.

However; remember ASD is not one singular homogeneous disorder and any claim to cure or significantly ameliorate the root causes should be viewed with extreme caution.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Study finds association between bacterial infections during pregnancy, autism | Pensacola News Journal | pnj.com

Study finds association between bacterial infections during pregnancy, autism | Pensacola News Journal | pnj.com: Pregnant women who have a bacterial infection that's diagnosed during hospitalization may be at greater risk of delivering a child with autism, a new study suggests.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Hospital infection in pregnancy tied to higher risk of autism - Medical News Today

Hospital infection in pregnancy tied to higher risk of autism - Medical News Today: A new study finds that hospital-diagnosed bacterial infections in pregnancy are associated with a higher risk of autism spectrum disorders.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

M-CHATTM Diana L. Robins, Ph.D.

M-CHATTM Diana L. Robins, Ph.D.: M-CHATTM

Diana L. Robins, Ph.D.

New Autism Checklist More Accurate, Says NIH | WebProNews

New Autism Checklist More Accurate, Says NIH | WebProNews: When it comes to autism, diagnostic speed is key. Treatments for the condition rely on early intervention therapies and the sooner in the life of a child with autism they begin, the better.

Revised autism screening tool offers more precise assessment

Revised autism screening tool offers more precise assessment: An updated screening tool that physicians administer to parents to help determine if a very young child has autism has been shown to be much more accurate than earlier versions at identifying children who could benefit from further evaluation, according to researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Antidepressant Use During Pregnancy Not Linked to Autism – WebMD

Antidepressant Use During Pregnancy Not Linked to Autism – WebMD: Despite some concerns to the contrary, children whose moms used antidepressants during pregnancy do not appear to be at increased risk of autism, a large new Danish study suggests.

The results, published Dec. 19 in the New England Journal of Medicine, offer some reassurance, experts said.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Oxytocin nasal spray may improve brain activity in autistic children | Fox News

Oxytocin nasal spray may improve brain activity in autistic children | Fox News: In a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, children who received a single dose of an oxytocin-based nasal spray experienced enhanced activity in regions of the brain regulating social behavior.

Genes and air pollution combine to increase autism risk - Medical News Today

Genes and air pollution combine to increase autism risk - Medical News Today: Drawing on results of previous studies that have shown associations between air pollution and autism, and between autism and the MET gene, the researchers say their new study reveals that the combination of these factors increases the risk of autism.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Oxytocin And Autism: How The ‘Love Hormone’ Temporarily Improves Brain Function In Children

Oxytocin And Autism: How The ‘Love Hormone’ Temporarily Improves Brain Function In Children: A single dose of oxytocin – commonly known as the" love hormone" – delivered via nasal spray, has improved brain function among children with autism who display deficits in processing social information, according to a new Yale University study.