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  1. Another Study Sees No Vaccine-Autism Link

    March 29, 2013- "Another Study Sees No Vaccine-Autism Link"- A new U.S. government study has demonstrated that there is indeed no link between the amount of vaccinations a child receives and autism. The CDC study looked at about 1,000 U.S children with or without autism and found that children with autism and those without had the same total exposure to vaccine antigens.

    • Apr 02 2013 08:41 AM
    • by brian
  2. New Blog Disseminates Current Research on Autis...

    July 11, 2013- "New Blog Disseminates Current Research on Autism Spectrum Disorders"- York psychology Professor Jonathan Weiss has started the “ASD Mental Health” blog to make research more accessible to those who need it. The blog focuses mainly on mental health issues, like depression and anxiety, and ASD. Furthermore, the blog’s demographic is the general public and families yearning to learn more about the disorder.

    • Jul 12 2013 12:37 PM
    • by brian
  3. Guest Blog: Negative Results

    March 22, 2013- "Guest Blog: Negative Results"- This blog post discusses the International Meeting for Autism Research conference, in particular the results relating to a functional connectivity study of adults with autism. This approach examines functional interactions between brain regions by looking at their spontaneous co-activation while participants simply rest inside a magnetic resonance imaging scanner with no explicit task instructions.

    • Mar 25 2013 03:37 PM
    • by brian
  4. Autism gene mutation that slows brain activity...

    November 8, 2016- "Autism gene mutation that slows brain activity uncovered"- Researcher team from McMaster University identified how mutations in a gene called DIXDC1 impaired the growth of synapses impeding brain activity.  It is this impairment that can disrupt normal functioning and lead to developmental and behavioral problems. This gene has been identified in a subset of people with autism. This finding could lead to the development of a drug which could help individuals on the spectrum.

    • Nov 10 2016 11:07 AM
    • by National Autism Network
  5. Introducing Zeno, the Lifelike Robot that is He...

    October 22, 2013- "Introducing Zeno, the Lifelike Robot that is Helping Autistic Children Communicate"- Zeno and his friend Alice are 2 foot tall robots that communicate in ways that human are not always able to. The robots possess the ability to gesture and interact verbally and they can teach in a repeatable way without getting frustrated when kids act up, like some therapists do. Zeno differs from different robots of this nature because of his unique “Frubber” coated face. The patented silicone elastomer is designed to specifically look, move, and feel like human flesh.

    • Oct 23 2013 10:29 AM
    • by brian
  6. Socially-Assistive Robots Help Kids with Autism...

    August 28, 2014- "Socially-Assistive Robots Help Kids with Autism Learn by Providing Personalized Prompts"- Recently, researchers presented findings of a study which examined how children with ASD react to humanoid robots that provide graded cueing, an occupational technique that shapes behavior by providing increasingly specific cues, or prompts, to help a person learn new or lost skills. The researchers divided a group of 12 high-functioning children with ASD into two groups, one experimental and one control. Each child played an imitation game with a Nao robot that sked the child to imitate 25 arm poses. When a child in either group imitated the correct pose, the robot flashed its eyes green, nodded, or said “Good job!” When a child in the control group failed to imitate that pose correctly, the robot simply repeated that command without variation. However, for the experimental group, the Nao robot offered varied prompting when a child did not copy the pose accurately, at first providing only verbal cues and then following up with more detailed instructions and demonstrations of the pose. The study found that children, who received the varied prompting until the correct action was achieved, showed improved of maintained performance, while children who did not receive graded cueing regressed or stayed the same. The preliminary results show promise for the use of the cueing model technique to improve autonomy through robot-mediated intervention.

    • Sep 01 2014 09:29 AM
    • by brian
  7. Doctor Creates Wristband that Predicts Outburst...

    September 23, 2015- "Doctor Creates Wristband that Predicts Outbursts in Individuals with Autism"-  Dr. Matthew Gordon of Northeastern University has developed a biosensor wristband that should be available to individuals with autism in two to five years’ time. The wristband is capable of measuring its wearer’s surface skin temperature, heart rate, as well as sweat levels to detect drastic change in mood and allow treatment providers to monitor the physiological signals that may be indicative of an impending meltdown. The wristband is also capable of sharing data it gathers to a secure server, where caregivers can later on retrieve and examine how the user responds to different situations by studying their physiological data.

    • Sep 25 2015 09:19 AM
    • by brian
  8. Scientists Hopeful Suramin can Reverse Symptoms...

    March 14, 2013- "Scientists Hopeful Suramin can Reverse Symptoms of Autism"- Suramin, a drug that has been used to treat African Sleeping Sickness for nearly a century, may provide beneficial effects for individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Researchers in the United States have found that the drug corrected 17 types of abnormalities linked to autism in genetically modified mice, including social behavior problems.

    • Mar 15 2013 08:46 AM
    • by brian
  9. Graduation Rates Fall Short for Students with D...

    April 29, 2014- "Graduation Rates Fall Short for Students with Disabilities"- Nationally, 80 percent of public high school students graduated on time during the 2011-2012 year, according to data released from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. These numbers indicate that more children are graduating high school than ever before, but those students with disabilities only had a graduation rate of 61 percent. Furthermore, the graduation rates for students with disabilities vary greatly by state. For example, Montana boasts an 81 percent graduation rate for individuals with disabilities while Nevada’s is an abysmal 24 percent.

    • Apr 30 2014 03:40 PM
    • by brian
  10. Year in Review: Top Accomplishments of 2013 for...

    Year in Review: Top Accomplishments of 2013 for the Autism Community

    A lot has transpired throughout the nation’s autism community in 2013. Over the course of the year, the autism community witnessed important events, published groundbreaking research studies, developed and released new autism-related technologies, and its members accomplish great feats, which inspired us all. Autism awareness has led to greater acceptance of people with autism and more education about the disorder throughout the nation. In 2013, the U.S. government pledged millions to autism-related research, autism awareness fundraisers across the nation set new records in participation and money pledged, and societal inclusion of individuals on the spectrum is becoming more of the norm as oppose to the exception. The National Autism Network launched our site in March of 2013, the Social Networking component of our community in November, and we have since witnessed our community grow to over 5,000+ members in less than six months. In our “Year in Review,” we invite you to look back at some of this year’s major events, research findings, tales of human interest, and technological innovations that took place in 2013.
    • Major Events - This past year was a significant one for the autism community. Between the new research claims linking everything from traffic pollution to grandfather’s age as a cause of autism to the release of new diagnostic criteria for the disorder, individuals in the autism community have had a lot to absorb and process. The National Autism Network has decided to highlight some of the major events in 2013 that will continue to have an impact on the autism community for years to come.
    • Important Research - Important research studies conducted in 2013 unveiled a number of revelations about the disorder. These discoveries demonstrate that individuals can indeed recover from autism, the environment can interact with an individual’s genes to cause autism, and there are potential clues for the disorder visible in infants as young as 2 to 6 months of age.  
    • Human Interest News - A lot of individuals made an impact on the autism community in 2013. There are some individuals whose autism allows them to achieve the unbelievable and there are others who have overcome their diagnosis to achieve greatness. This section will highlight some of the 2013 accomplishments of the young and old on the autism spectrum.
    • Technological Innovations - This section of the National Autism Network’s Year in Review will focus on technological innovations that have assisted researchers and educators working with individuals on the spectrum. Technological innovations for the autism community can be incredibly hi-tech and expensive, such as robotics, or overly simplistic and ingenious, such as a cooking system designed specifically for people with autism.
    With all that the community accomplished in 2013, we look forward to what 2014 has in store for us.

    • Dec 27 2013 01:00 PM
    • by National Autism Network
  11. Study Finds Sensory Therapy has Merit for Kids...

    December 9, 2013- "Study Finds Sensory Therapy has Merit for Kids with Autism"- A recent study tested the efficacy of sensory integration therapy for children with autism spectrum disorder. The small study suggests that the therapy can lead to meaningful gains in significantly less time than 40 hours per week. In the study, occupational therapists worked with the kids receiving the sensory integration therapy to address specific goals like learning to play with a peer for ten minutes or taking a shower without feeling agitated. The therapists would assess the child’s sensory experiences and work to change how sensations are processed and integrated by the brain. After the therapy sessions concluded, both groups of kids were given standardized assessments. Those who participated in the sensory integration therapy scored higher on the “goal attainment” scale and needed less help from their parents with self care and socialization compared to the control group.

    • Dec 11 2013 10:24 AM
    • by brian
  12. Scientists Develop a Robot that can Express its...

    February 8, 2014- "Scientists Develop a Robot that can Express its Feelings"- While it may not be much to look at, an innovative robot called ERWIN (Emotional Robot with Intelligent Network) is being used as a part of a study to find out how come of the human-like though biases in robot characteristics affect the human-robot relationship. The research will not only help scientists to understand and develop better, more realistic relationships between humans and ‘companion’ robots, but it could also help to inform how relationships are formed by children with autism. ERWIN has the ability to express five basic emotions while interacting with a human.  

    • Feb 10 2014 03:28 PM
    • by brian
  13. Sweeping Study Underscores Autism's Overlap...

    December 3, 2015- "Sweeping Study Underscores Autism's Overlap with Obsessions"- According to a recent study, compared with their typical peers, people with autism are twice as likely to receive a diagnosis of OCD and people with OCD are four times as likely to also have autism. The Danish study included more than 850,000 people. The study also found a connection at the familial level as OCD was common in families also affected by autism. The disproportionate number of autism diagnoses among the children of people with OCD supports the idea that the two conditions share a genetic predisposition. The study’s results suggest that clinicians should look carefully for signs of autism in individuals who have OCD and vice versa as this information could inform treatment choices.

    • Dec 07 2015 12:11 PM
    • by brian
  14. Toe Walking and Autism

    June 4, 2013- "Toe Walking and Autism"- This article discusses “toe walking” and the research affiliated with toe walking and autism. The article provides some helpful links to research conducted on the topic and even includes a link to a discussion about toe-walking being a possible red flag for the disorder.

    • Jun 05 2013 10:47 AM
    • by brian
  15. Tablet Technology to Help Children with Autism

    July 6, 2015- "Tablet Technology to Help Children with Autism"- Researchers have developed the world’s first tablet technology designed to assist children with developmental disabilities such as autism. The technology aims to help children stay focused as a means of facilitating learning and inclusion within the school environment. In a randomized trial of 77 children with developmental disabilities, the intervention group with the tablet technology showed improved core cognitive attention skills, which were maintained after a three month checkup, and numeracy abilities.  

    • Jul 07 2015 09:48 AM
    • by brian
  16. CDC Expands National Autism Monitoring to Inclu...

    January 5, 2015- "CDC Expands National Autism Monitoring to Include Preschoolers"- The CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, the research organization that determines the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders in the United States, has announced its expanding its national monitoring to include preschoolers. The network will continue monitoring rate among grade-schoolers, but will focus on possible changes resulting for the recent overhaul of the ASD criteria. Over the next four years, the CDC hopes to produce the first clear estimate of autism diagnosis and services among 4-year-olds. To meet this goal, the CDC will invest over $20 million over four years to enhance tracking at eight sites and launch two new sites in the ADDM.

    • Jan 06 2015 10:06 AM
    • by brian
  17. Words say little about cognitive abilities in a...

    September 6, 2016- "Words say little about cognitive abilities in autism"- Study published in the  Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry reveals that children with autism who speak few or have no words have cognitive abilities that far exceed their verbal skills.

    • Sep 08 2016 08:47 AM
    • by National Autism Network
  18. 2015 Year in Review: Top Accomplishments for th...

    December 30, 2015 - '2015 Year in Review: Top Accomplishments for the Autism Community'

    A lot of significant events transpired in 2015 that affected the autism community. Over the course of 2015, we witnessed important autism-related events, were introduced to groundbreaking research studies, witnessed the development and release of new autism-related technologies, and members of the autism community accomplished great feats, which inspired us all. We see legislation from the previous year begin to take hold in the form of the ABLE Act, promising new autism research partnerships come together, and were privy to a number of stories highlighting just how far society has come in their acceptance of people with autism. In our “2015 Year in Review,” we invite you to look back at some of this year’s major events, research findings, stories of human interest, and technology-related stories that impacted that autism community this past year.

    • Major Events - This past year was a significant one for the autism community. Between the announcement of a 1 in 45 autism prevalence rate and Sesame Street’s announcement of a new character with autism, individuals in the autism community have had a lot to absorb and process. The National Autism Network has decided to highlight some of the major events in 2015 that we hope will have an impact on the autism community for years to come.
    • Important Research - Important research studies conducted in 2015 unveiled a number of revelations about the disorder. Some newsworthy research studies published this year concern autism-linked genes, antidepressant use during pregnancy, and a particularly ironic study funded by an anti-vaxxer group which found there to be no connection between vaccines and autism (again!).
    • Human Interest News- A lot of individuals made an impact on the autism community in 2015. These individuals were often told by others that their diagnosis would prevent them from achieving anything. Instead, they went ahead and went on to achieve something worth reading about. We hope you agree as this section highlights some of the 2015’s most impressive accomplishments from people on the autism spectrum.
    • Technological Innovations - This section of the National Autism Network’s Year End Review focuses on the technological innovations that have assisted researchers and educators working with individuals on the spectrum. This year’s stories focus on how technology has impacted the autism community and run the gamut from apps that allow individual’s with autism to voice their opinions to affect real change to a local narrative exploring how the galaxy’s favorite droid is teaching children with autism social skills.
    With all that the community accomplished in 2015, we look forward to what 2016 has in store for us.

    • Dec 30 2015 11:14 AM
    • by National Autism Network
  19. Year in Review: Major Autism Research of 2013

    Year in Review: Major Autism Research of 2013

    Important research studies conducted in 2013 unveiled a number of revelations about the disorder. These discoveries demonstrate that individuals can indeed recover from autism, the environment can interact with an individual’s genes to cause autism, and there are potential clues for the disorder visible in infants as young as 2 to 6 months of age. The list below will discuss some of the major research findings of the 2013 calendar year:
    • Autism May have many 'Lost Girls'- This study suggests that autism may be underdiagnosed in girls because they are not as hyperactive and typically display less problem behaviors than boys. There are no known biological differences between boys and girls with autism, and the lack of identification of these girls causes researchers to wonder if they are receiving the necessary supports in school. The difference in how girls display autistic traits may account for why boys outnumber girls on the spectrum at a rate greater than 4 to 1.
    • Whole-Genome Sequencing Unearths New Autism Mutations- The first sizable study to use whole-genome sequencing to investigate autism, known as the Autism Genome 10K, released its first results in 2013. The researchers collected complete genome data on 32 children with autism and their families. The researchers detected harmful de novo mutations in 15 of the children with autism. They determined that these mutations may contribute to autism symptoms in six of the children, or 19 percent, which is twice the proportion that other methods have turned up. In the process of discovering new genes linked to ASD, the investigators uncovered important medical information for several families. For example, two of the newly identified autism genes were associated with difficult to diagnose syndromes that also affect multiple organ systems.
    • Air Pollution and Genetics Combine to Increase Risk for Autism- According to newly published research, exposure to air pollution appears to increase the risk for autism among people who carry a genetic disposition for the neurodevelopmental disorder. The MET gene variant, which has been associated with autism in multiple studies, controls expression of MET protein in both the brain and the immune system and predicts altered brain structure and function. The study suggests that air pollution exposure and the genetic variant interact to augment the risk of ASD. Although gene-environment interactions are thought to be common in the development of the disorder, this study is the first demonstration of a specific interaction between a well-established genetic risk factor and an environmental risk factor that independently contribute to autism rick, according the study’s senior author Daniel B. Campbell, Ph.D.
    • Recovery is Possible- For Some- This study, led by Deborah Fein, Ph.D., found that children who had been accurately diagnosed with autism early in life lost their autism symptoms as they grew older. This report is the first to acknowledge that recovery from autism is possible, but researchers do not understand why and how some individuals recover and why some do not.
    • LEAP/TEACCH vs. Non-Specific Pre-School Model- This study found that preschoolers with ASD improve developmentally when high-quality early intervention is delivered – regardless of the treatment model used. This is the first study to compare long-standing comprehensive treatment models for young children with ASD. The study found that children maintain gains over the school year regardless of the classroom’s use of LEAP, TEACCH or no specific comprehensive model.
    • 'Love Hormone' Shows Promise for Kids with Autism- New evidence suggests that a nasal spray of a naturally occurring hormone, call oxytocin, may help improve socialization among children with autism. The findings come from a study in which 17 children ages 8 to 16 with the developmental disorder who were randomly given a nasal spray containing the hormone or a placebo. The kids were then asked to complete a social task – identifying a person’s mental state by looking at picture of their eyes—and a non-social task—categorizing pictures of cars. Researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, to assess the children’s brain responses during the activities. This is the first study to assess the impact of oxytocin on the brain function in children with autism. The researchers found that brain centers associated with reward and motion recognition responded more during social tasks when children received oxytocin instead of the placebo. However, Dr. Paul Wang, senior vice president for medical research at Autism Speaks, believes that much more evidence must be gathered before oxytocin—or any drug—can be safely delivered to individuals with autism. Fortunately, longer studies are soon to commence that will test the efficacy of the drug on a larger sample size and test for lingering effects of the hormone after long-term use.
    • Are Babies’ Eyes the Window to Autism Diagnosis?- An interesting and potentially revolutionary study found that baby boys who will later be diagnosed with autism show a loss of interest in other people’s eyes between 2 and 6 months of age. This is the earliest behavioral marker of autism found to date. The researchers found that the steeper the decline in eye fixation over the first two years of life, the greater the level of social and communication impairment at 2 years old. Clinicians could potentially use this information to diagnose babies at this young age, allowing for them to receive proper interventions, thereby increasing the likelihood that they will gain functioning independence later in life.
    • Training Program Helps Students with Autism Land Jobs- This Virginia Commonwealth study had a control group of high school seniors with autism remain in their regular schools, receiving their typical individualized education programs, while a treatment group spent the year in an intensive, custom-designed study and job-training program at a suburban hospital. Upon graduation, 87% of the treatment group landed hospital jobs such as pharmacy assistance or teacher’s aide that paid above the minimum wage. Only 6% of the control group found jobs. A researcher in the study says a key to their success was discovering each student’s unique set of skills. This study demonstrates that when individuals on the autism spectrum are offered the right supports, they can excel in a career of their choosing.
    • Federal Aid for Autism Redundant- This is not a research study on autism, but the article highlights the wasteful spending by the federal government, who are using autism research dollars to conduct repetitive research. One of the key problems is that departments involved in research aren’t communicating well enough with each other. One example highlights five departments awarded roughly $15.2 million for 20 research projects that all had the same intervention, services, and support in diverse community settings goals. While this represents an egregious waste of federal tax dollars, it is also concerning for the autism community as the federal government is likely only focused on a few subject areas, causing many potential research subjects to be left unexplored.

    • Dec 26 2013 02:42 PM
    • by National Autism Network
  20. New Meta-analysis Confirms: No Association betw...

    May 19, 2014- "New Meta-analysis Confirms: No Association between Vaccines and Autism"-  A meta-analysis of ten studies involving more than 1.2 million children reaffirms that vaccines don’t cause autism. If anything, immunization was associated with decreased risk that children would develop autism, a possibility that’s strongest with the MMR vaccine. The results are from the University of Sidney and one of the three authors of the study wrote an epilogue to the report discussing the importance of and the potential risk involved with vaccinations, although the researcher recommends the inoculations.

    • May 19 2014 03:47 PM
    • by brian
  21. Boosting Social Skills in Autistic Kids With Drama

    June 1, 2016- "Boosting Social Skills in Autistic Kids With Drama"- This extensive article focuses on how schools are turning to the arts to teach high-functioning students with autism social skills. New research from Vanderbilt suggests that drama classes are particularly useful for improving these skills. Other research has shown that drama programs can help improve children’s facial recognition ability, their ability to play cooperatively, share, speak with respect, regulate anxiety, and more. Researchers plan to extend the research to a larger sample of students and to compare the benefits of drama therapy supplemented with other forms of therapy.

    • Jun 01 2016 09:10 AM
    • by brian
  22. Autism Researchers Looking at Baby Teeth to Ide...

    September 21, 2016- "Autism Researchers Looking at Baby Teeth to Identify Risk Factors"- A research team out of the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, is hoping to examine whether environmental factors play a role in a child's risk for autism by using shed baby teeth. Through the use of a new technology, they believe baby teeth can reveal a child's risk for developing autism based on their chemical exposure in the womb.

    • Sep 22 2016 09:44 AM
    • by National Autism Network
  23. DSM-5 Criteria 'at odds' with Early Aut...

    May 29, 2013- "DSM-5 Criteria 'at odds' with Early Autism Diagnosis"- Recently, the new DSM-5 was released by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and it included new criteria for an autism diagnosis. A retroactive analysis of the new criteria compared to that of the DSM-IV indicates that only 35% of a sample of children diagnosed with ASD before the age of 3 would retain their diagnosis under the new criteria. The children whose diagnosis was retained using the DSM-5 criteria showed greater signs of social impairment and were scored as having an IQ less than 70 at a ratio of nearly 3 to 1.

    • May 30 2013 09:54 AM
    • by brian
  24. Estimated Prevalence of Autism and Other Develo...

    November 13, 2015- "Estimated Prevalence of Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities Following Questionnaire Changes in the 2014 National Health Interview Survey"- The estimated prevalence data recently released by the CDC based upon recent parental survey results indicates a 2.24% prevalence rate for ASD, which is a significant increase from the 1.25% found based on 2011-2013 data. In the National Health Interview Survey, one child is selected randomly from each family to be the subject of detailed questions on health conditions, functional limitations, and health care utilization. Prevalence estimates of ASD, intellectual disability, and other developmental disabilities for children aged 3 to 17 years were calculated using data collect in 2011-2014. The survey included over 12,000 respondents and brings the prevalence rate from 1 in 68 to 1 in 45. However, as the Autism Society points out, the new figure of 1 in 45 does not replace the official estimate of 1 in 68 released by the CDC in March of 2014 due to the methodology used to arrive at the respective figures.

    • Nov 16 2015 11:18 AM
    • by brian
  25. Autism 2013: Communication Breakdown

    December 31, 2013- "Autism 2013: Communication Breakdown"- This post discusses some of the recent public backlash Autism Speaks has experienced due to their views of autism causing fissures in the family fabric and equating the disorder as being an overwhelming burden. This article uses Autism Speaks’ recent list of the “Top Ten Advances in Autism Research” to highlight just how out of touch with the autism community the organization appears to be. In response, the article includes a list of scientific article ranked by how important the author wishes people would find them.

    • Jan 06 2014 10:07 AM
    • by brian