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  1. 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
  2. Molecular 'Swiss Army Knife' Can Alter...

    September 23, 2015- "Molecular 'Swiss Army Knife' Can Alter or Turn on Genes"- CRISPR, the popular gene-editing tool, uses a scissor-like enzyme called CAS9 to cut DNA at precise locations in the genome. A new version of the tool makes CAS9 more like a Swiss army knife, capable of both editing and activating genes.  The new version will allow researchers to more efficiently engineer animals or cell lines to study genetically complex diseases such as autism.

    • Sep 24 2015 10:43 AM
    • by brian
  3. Questions for James McPartland: Biomarkers for...

    September 22, 2015- "Questions for James McPartland: Biomarkers for Better Trials"- Since most measures used for assessing social skills in people with autism are highly subjective, multiple government and nonprofit groups recently launched the Autism Biomarkers Consortium for Clinical Trials. The $28 million initiative plans to monitor a meticulously characterized sample of 200 children with autism for six months. They aim to compare traditional measures for social skills, including parent interviews, with more objective tools, such as software that tracks a child’s speech patterns during real-life interactions. To learn more about this consortium, Spectrum interviewed James McPartland, associate professor of child psychiatry at the Yale Child Study Center.

    • Sep 24 2015 10:28 AM
    • by brian
  4. UCI Researchers Find Biomarker for Autism that...

    October 22, 2015- "UCI Researchers Find Biomarker for Autism that May Aid Diagnostics"- Researchers at the UCI Center for Autism Research & Translation examined skin biopsies of patients with three very different genetic types of disorder (fragile X syndrome and tuberous sclerosis 1 and 2) and discovered that a cellular calcium signaling process involving the inositol trisphosphate receptor was very much altered. This functional defect was located in the endoplasmic reticulum, which is among the specialized membrane compartments in cells called organelles, and may underpin cognitive impairments, as well as possible digestive and immune problems, associated with autism. The researchers believe this finding is another step towards earlier and more accurate diagnosis for autism. The discovery also presents a target of a molecular class already well-established to be useful for drug discovery.

    • Sep 24 2015 09:03 AM
    • by brian
  5. Study Says Autism May be Masked by ADHD in Some...

    September 22, 2015- "Study Says Autism May be Masked by ADHD in Some Children"- A recent study shows that early diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) might be causing clinicians to overlook autism in young children. The researchers scanned data from the National Survey of Children' Health involving 1,500 children who were diagnosed with autism. They found that children who previously received an early diagnosis for ADHD did not receive a diagnosis for ASD until 6 years of age, more than two years higher than the national average. This is significant considering how important early intervention can be in improving the symptoms of autism.

    • Sep 24 2015 08:57 AM
    • by brian
  6. Extra-Thick Connections Mark Brains of Toddlers...

    September 18, 2015- "Extra-Thick Connections Mark Brains of Toddlers With Autism"-  A new study has found that toddlers who are later diagnosed with autism have abnormally thick connections between some brain regions. The findings suggest that early overgrowth of neurons in pathways involving frontal regions of the brain contributes to autism. The research coincides with past studies that indicate the presence of excess neurons in the postmortem brains of people with autism and head enlargement associated with autism-related genetic mutations.

    • Sep 21 2015 01:45 PM
    • by brian
  7. Q&A with Author of New Study on Autism and...

    September 20, 2015- "Q&A with Author of New Study on Autism and Gluten/Casein-free Diet"-  Last Week, a study was published indicating that there is no evidence to demonstrate that a GF/CF diet leads to the improvement of autism symptoms. This article is a Q & A with Dr. Susan Hyman, a neurodevelopmental pediatrician who was the senior author on the aforementioned study. This article discusses how this recent study was different from GF/CF diet studies in the past, inquires as to whether certain subsets of children with autism may benefits from the diet, and why larger studies on this topic are needed.

    • Sep 21 2015 10:28 AM
    • by brian
  8. For an Autism Research Funder, a Quest to Conne...

    September 15, 2015- "For an Autism Research Funder, a Quest to Connect the Dots"- Recently, the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) began its funding cycle for 2016 with the announcement for applications for Pilot and Research Awards.  In a single year, the foundation receives requests totaling $300 million, but can only fund around $18 million in a given year. There is much difficulty in deciding which projects are worthy of funding, considering that on the one hand you want to fund novel approaches that have the potential to revolutionize our understanding of the disorder, while on the other hand you want to keep the focus on promising science and clinical treatments due to the dire need for effective therapies. This year, SFARI has made it clear they are leaning towards the latter due to a report that states “the time seems ripe to bridge different levels of understanding in a push for a more coherent picture of autism. This will involve connecting insights from genes to circuits to behavior…”

    • Sep 17 2015 10:38 AM
    • by brian
  9. Science Debunks Fad Autism Theories, but That D...

    September 15, 2015- "Science Debunks Fad Autism Theories, but That Doesn't Dissuade Believers"- Despite sound scientific research, many individuals still believe in the controversies that surround autism, such as that the disorder is linked to inoculations. Furthermore, in a 2008 review, psychologist Tristian Smith identified more than 50 disproven or unsupported therapies for autism that were still in use, and that number has risen since then. One reason for the overabundance of conspiracy theories is that researchers have been unable to pinpoint a cause of autism, coupled with the fact that the prevalence rate of the disorder has skyrocketed in the past two decades, and you get a “perfect storm” of speculation and misinformation. For more on the importance of research in autism, check out National Autism Network’s articles on Media Sensationalism and Evaluating Autism Treatment Options.

    • Sep 17 2015 08:49 AM
    • by brian
  10. Gluten-Free Diet Has No Benefit for Children Wi...

    September 14, 2015- "Gluten-Free Diet Has No Benefit for Children With Autism, Study Finds"- A new study of a popular alternative diet for children with autism, the gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) diet, found what many experts in the field are saying is “perhaps the highest-quality evidence to date that eliminating proteins found in wheat and dairy doesn’t improve autism symptoms. Although an unproven treatment, many families try GFCF diet because of anecdotal evidence as they strive to try whatever they can to improve their child's symptoms. Experts worry that children on this restrictive diet do not receive necessary nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D, once major food groups are eliminated. The study, which was conducted on 14-children who were put on a GFCF diet for 30-weeks, is discussed in great detail for the bulk of this article.

    • Sep 17 2015 09:21 AM
    • by brian
  11. How Age Differences Between Siblings Can Affect...

    September 14, 2015- "How Age Differences Between Siblings Can Affect Autism Risk"- According to a new study out of California, the time between the birth of one child and the conception of the next may affect the second child’s risk of developing autism. Researchers studied 45,261 children born in northern California between 2000 and 2009 and controlled for factors such as mother’s weight before, during, and between pregnancies, whether the second baby was born prematurely and adverse outcomes like stillbirth of the first pregnancy. After accounting for these factors, the connection between both shorter and longer times between pregnancies and the risk for ASD remained strong. For children conceived less than 12 months or more than 72 months after the birth of another sibling, the risk of autism was two to three fold higher than for those conceived 36 to 47 months later. Unfortunately, researchers are still unable to determine what it is about short or long intervals between pregnancies that increase the risk of autism in the second child. One theory is that the first pregnancy can drain “maternal stores” of important factors such as folic acid, which are critical for neural development. Researchers suggest future studies look more closely at how different nutritional states might affect autism risk in children born closer together.

    • Sep 16 2015 10:13 AM
    • by brian
  12. 'Baby Sibs' Researchers Find Very Early...

    September 15, 2015- "'Baby Sibs' Researchers Find Very Early Predictors of Autism Severity"-  Researchers studying the development of babies in families affected by autism report that motor and visual attention delays at 6 months of age predict a high likelihood of severe autism by age 2. By contrast, children who develop milder forms of autism tend to show their first delays in social and communication skills and do so around 12 months of age. The findings add to a growing body of research suggesting that subtle early signs of autism are evident much earlier than previously thought.

    • Sep 15 2015 10:03 AM
    • by brian
  13. Vasopressin Emerges as Hormone of Interest in A...

    September 11, 2015- "Vasopressin Emerges as Hormone of Interest in Autism Research"- Once again the hormone vasopressin has garnered the attention of autism researchers as a possible target for treating the social deficits associated with ASDs. Previous research has shown that vasopressin is associated with parenting behavior and social bonding, but research also indicates that high levels of the hormone are also associated with anxiety and aggression. Moreover, research indicates that the hormone is treated differently in the male brain compared to the female brain, which may be significant as males are five times more likely to be diagnosed on the spectrum than females. While the hormone may prove to play a major role in autism treatment in the future, current research surrounding its efficacy for treating autism is still in its early stages, with contradictory results.    

    • Sep 14 2015 10:28 AM
    • by brian
  14. Science that Could Improve the Lives of People...

    September 7, 2015- "Science that Could Improve the Lives of People with Autism is Being Ignored"- In the UK, it is estimated that the economic costs associated with autism are £32 billion per year, but the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, the organization that advises the NHS in England and Wales, could not find any evidence to support the use of ABA and has not made a recommendation for its use as a viable intervention for autism. In the United States, 41 states have recently passed insurance measures to allow for the coverage of ABA intervention for individuals diagnosed with autism and their families. This article suggests that a lack of training for ABA practitioners has limited its use in the UK. The article also goes on to suggest that government reports and UK media have distorted the facts surrounded the efficacy of the intervention.

    • Sep 13 2015 08:07 PM
    • by brian
  15. Scientist with Autism Uses Own Experience to In...

    September 8, 2015- "Scientist with Autism Uses Own Experience to Investigate the Disorder in the Lab"- Jason Lunden has a Ph.D. in neurobiology from Temple University and is currently researching how stress and anxiety affect the brains of genetically engineered mice which in the laboratory have shown behavioral and biological traits similar to people with ASD. Lunden’s work is uniquely significant to him because he himself was diagnosed with autism late in life. As a child, Lunden was schooled in special education program before moving and being mainstreamed in regular high school classes. His experiences with bullies, anxiety, and depression have inspired him to focus his research into autism.

    • Sep 10 2015 09:33 AM
    • by brian
  16. Duke Researchers Developing App to Screen for A...

    September 8, 2015- "Duke Researchers Developing App to Screen for Autism"- Researchers at Duke University are working on a creating an app that will allow users to record and process facial movements using an iPad and then identify if a subject is exhibiting signs of ASD, requiring further testing. Researchers want to be clear that this is a screening tool and not a diagnostic tool. The app will first display a series of short videos designed to evoke emotional responses. Based on the user’s facial movements in response to the videos, the app suggests whether or not the child requires further observation.

    • Sep 10 2015 09:00 AM
    • by brian
  17. Why There's Disagreement Over Screening Eve...

    September 8, 2015- "Why There's Disagreement Over Screening Every Child for Autism"- Recently, The United Stated Preventive Services Task Force caused controversy with the release of a report that current evidence indicates there is not enough to recommend universal screening of autism for children with no symptoms. The American Academy of Pediatrics disagrees with this opinion, and for years has argued all children receive screening at 18 and 24 months of age. While the task force is asking for a high level of evidence before screening takes place, the reality is that autism is highly prevalent, autism screening leads to diagnosis, and treatment for autism is best received as early as possible. It is also possible that by spending the money for universal screening now and treating those on the spectrum early, there will be a lesser need for adult supports and services in the future, which will save the government money in the long run.

    • Sep 09 2015 03:45 PM
    • by brian
  18. Study Find High Frequency of Parkinsonism in Ad...

    September 8, 2015- "Study Find High Frequency of Parkinsonism in Adults with Autism"- A recent study has established a correlation between autism and parkinsonian motor signs. Researchers conducted a systemic analysis to assess parkinsonian signs in ASD adults 40 years and older. They observed a number of signs, including bradykinesia (slow movement), resting tremor, rigidity, and postural instability in ASD individuals. The frequency of Parkinsonism studied in ASD adults was 20%, and 7% of them were diagnosed with PD by neurologists. Compared to the general population aged 65-70 years old, where the rate of Parkinsonism is approximately 0.9%, these data show high rates of Parkinsonism among ASD individuals. This article goes on to discuss the study’s limitations and the impact of the research findings for further research.

    • Sep 09 2015 03:20 PM
    • by brian
  19. Men and Women with Autism have 'Extreme Mal...

    September 7, 2015- "Men and Women with Autism have 'Extreme Male' Scores on the 'Eyes Test' of Mindreading"- Researchers have recently published the largest ever study of people with autism taking the “Reading the Mind in Eyes” test. Almost 400 men and women took the test, which is known as an advanced “Theory of Mind” or empathy test, designed to reveal subtle individual differences in social sensitivity. The team investigated whether men and women with autism perform differently on this test, and used it to evaluate the “extreme male brain” theory of autism. This theory predicts that on tests of empathy, typical females will score higher than typical males, who in turn will score higher than people with autism. The results of the study confirm this pattern.    

    • Sep 09 2015 02:27 PM
    • by brian
  20. Autism Affects Boys and Girls Differently, Says...

    September 6, 2015- "Autism Affects Boys and Girls Differently, Says New Study"- Recent research indicates that boys and girls with autism exhibit signs of the disorder differently. A large study of 128 females and 614 boys with autism found females on the spectrum are less likely to exhibit severe repetitive or restrictive behaviors. This study also found that girls who exhibit less prominent repetitive and restrictive behaviors may not be receiving proper diagnostic testing for autism or have their disorder more often mislabeled as a social communication disorder.   Another study on girls and boys on the spectrum showed they exhibit differences in the motor cortex of the brain.

    • Sep 09 2015 10:02 AM
    • by brian
  21. Snapshots Reveal Striking Changes in Adult Brai...

    September 7, 2015- "Snapshots Reveal Striking Changes in Adult Brain Over Time"- A new single-subject study provides researchers with the most detailed depiction of an individual brain to date. Starting in October 2013, Stanford University psychology professor Russell Poldrack received a fMRI two to three times a week. Researchers found distinctly disparate pattern of activated brain regions depending on the day, even though Poldrak was always resting. This study also highlights a limitation in the common strategy of pooling brain images from similar individuals captured at a single point in time. Researchers use this method to control for variation in brain structure between people when trying to get a group of differences. For example, between people with and without autism. But this new research indicates that such studies gloss over a second important source of variation: “that within an individual.”

    • Sep 09 2015 08:34 AM
    • by brian
  22. Personalized Approach May Usher in New Era in A...

    September 3, 2015- "Personalized Approach May Usher in New Era in Autism Therapy"- A child’s autism treatment should be personally tailored to improve skill deficits, but some children improve slowly or fail to make progress at all. Autism researchers are trying to make treatment selection more systematic and tailored to a particular child’s responses to treatment. They are developing “adaptive interventions” in which a set of rules would govern which treatments to choose, for whom, and in what order.  The article goes on to elaborate about “adaptive interventions” and how research is working to develop these type of strategies for autism.

    • Sep 08 2015 02:15 PM
    • by brian
  23. Study Questions Whether Eye for Detail Accompan...

    September 4, 2015- "Study Questions Whether Eye for Detail Accompanies Autism"- According to a recent study, individuals on the autism spectrum may not excel at having an eye for detail, an ability that is often attributed to those on the spectrum. The study suggests that visual processing irregularities in autism may either be more subtle and specific than previously thought or that lab tests fail to capture what happens in the real world. The article goes on to discuss how the study, which was conducted with 58 participants with autism aged 8 to 18, was conducted and what should be the next steps in future research.

    • Sep 08 2015 10:45 AM
    • by brian
  24. Tool Tracks Brainwaves, Blood Flow in Moving Rats

    September 2, 2015- "Tool Tracks Brainwaves, Blood Flow in Moving Rats"- A device mounted to the heads of lab rats can monitor electrical activity in the brain and their blood flow. The device may help researchers understand how brain activity goes awry in autism. The new device combines EEG with functional ultrasound, which together reveal how different brain areas activate in synchrony. This allow researchers to map the strength of brain connections.  

    • Sep 08 2015 10:04 AM
    • by brian
  25. Time for Some Soul-Searching in Science

    September 1, 2015- "Time for Some Soul-Searching in Science"- This article discusses the “scientific missteps” that undermine researcher’s credibility.  For example, researchers often struggle to replicate findings. Another issue is different researchers studying the same phenomenon and yielding contradicting results. This occurs when autism researcher study Theory of Mind, or a person’s ability to attribute thoughts to others. The article goes on to discuss autism research and a history of methodological problems.

    • Sep 03 2015 09:44 AM
    • by brian