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  1. Study: Younger Siblings Face Higher Autism Risk

    August 9, 2016- "Study: Younger Siblings Face Higher Autism Risk"- A new study suggests younger siblings of those with autism are over a dozen times more likely than other kids to have the developmental disorder as well. The study determined that risk did not appear to change based on a child’s race or whether they were born early, at term, or late. However, the risk was higher for boys with older brothers with autism at 15 percent, compared to girls with affected older sister who were diagnosed 7 percent of the time.

    • Aug 10 2016 09:00 AM
    • by brian
  2. Researchers Flag Hundreds of New Genes that Cou...

    August 4, 2016- "Researchers Flag Hundreds of New Genes that Could Contribute to Autism"- In a first of its kind research effort, researchers from Princeton and the Simons Foundation developed a machine-learning program that scoured the whole human genome to predict genes which may contribute to ASD. The results of the programs analyses yielded a trove of 2,500 candidate genes. According to this article, many of the newly implicated genes have never been studied for possible roles in ASD. Researchers are confident that  top-ranked autism-risk gene predictions from the machine-learning program can be used to direct future genome sequencing studies and to prioritize individual genes for experimental studies.

    • Aug 07 2016 12:09 PM
    • by brian
  3. Questions for Nordahl, Mello: Scans for Childre...

    July 19, 2016- "Questions for Nordahl, Mello: Scans for Children with Autism"- In this article, behavioral analyst Melissa Mello and neurologist Christine Wu Nordahl, each of UC Davis, discuss a new approach for “coaxing” individuals on the autism spectrum who have sensory sensitivities into receiving MRIs, which are invaluable for autism research. Beginning with the premise that “mock MRI scans” alone would not be enough to sooth sensitivities, the team worked to familiarize individuals with autism with the scanning environment by breaking down the typical mock scanning process into incremental steps. Like most skills learned through ABA tactics, their approach involved learning each child’s needs and taking each step at his or her pace along with introducing favorite foods or toys as rewards. Another approach involved allowing the child to view a favorite video within the scanner, helping them to realize that the confined space was not too intimidating after all. The article includes  anecdotes from the study about how researchers utilized individualized approaches based upon a child’s specific needs.

    • Jul 20 2016 12:20 PM
    • by brian
  4. Repetition Brings Calm, Beautiful Artwork

    May 23, 2016- "Repetition Brings Calm, Beautiful Artwork"- 12-year-old Nolan Cooley was diagnosed with autism at age 2, and since age 6 has been creating works of art through repetition. Through a business partnership, Nolan’s dad, Dom, teamed up with 9Five Eyewear to combine Nolan’s two passions: art and skateboarding. The 9FIVE x Nolan Cooley skateboard deck was recently developed and put on sale, with proceeds going to the Skating with kids through Acceptance, Therapy, and Education (A.Skate) Foundation. The first two runs of his limited-edition skate deck sold out immediately, bringing in $5,000 in just a few hours.

    • May 25 2016 08:51 AM
    • by brian
  5. Questions for Cory Miller: Monkeying Around wit...

    May 10, 2016- "Questions for Cory Miller: Monkeying Around with Marmosets"- The advent of easy and reliable gene-editing methods has caused researchers to shy away from the traditional mice and rat models for autism studies towards creating monkey models with autism-related mutations. Marmosets are particularly well suited for autism studies because they are small and highly social. In this article, readers will learn about what marmosets can reveal regarding social behavior and autism through an interview with Cory Miller, assistant professor of psychology at the University of California, San Diego, and co-author of a study arguing for the increased use of marmoset models for autism studies.

    • May 11 2016 01:14 PM
    • by brian
  6. New Program for Adults with Autism Matches Pote...

    May 11, 2016- "New Program for Adults with Autism Matches Potential with Skills"- A new partnership between Uniquely Abled Academy and Glendale Community College will result in the debut of a one-of-a-kind program to train highly functioning adults with autism to operate computer-numerical-control machines, setting them on a path to working as machinist apprentices or computer numerical control operators and programmers. The 10-week course will include 300 hours of instruction, lab time, and focus on building employee skills, such as interviewing and resume building. The founders of the program are hopeful it will eventually expand nationwide to campuses that have similar and resources and equipment.

    • May 11 2016 01:01 PM
    • by brian
  7. Virtual Job Interviews Prepare People with Auti...

    April 14, 2016- "Virtual Job Interviews Prepare People with Autism for Work"- A new program called Virtual Interactive Training Agent, or viTA DMF, is helping young adults with autism and other disabilities practice for interviews virtually. The program conjures computer-generated characters designed to present varied race, genders, and personality types. The virtual interviewers can ask softball or hardball questions so that potential employees aren’t as nervous and better prepared for interviews. Mary Partin, DMF’s chief executive officer, says this is one of the few innovative tools for young people to practice interview skills and that the majority of students who used ViTA DMF have successfully interviewed and been hired for jobs. In all, interviewees undergo four sessions with their virtual employers, with the most substantial gains in interview improvement occurring after the second and third sessions.  

    • Apr 15 2016 11:11 AM
    • by brian
  8. Study Pegs Cost of Services for Autism's Gr...

    April 13, 2016- "Study Pegs Cost of Services for Autism's Growing Adult Population"- According to a recent analysis, the California Department of Services spent, on average, more than $26,500 per adult with autism in the 2012-2013 fiscal year. The costs were skewed toward adults whose autism was complicated by intellectual disability, which affects an estimated one-third of those with autism. The average cost for those without intellectual disability aged 25 to 34 was $20,734. However, for the same group, the average spending for a person with intellectual disability went up $37,876. Notably, the analysis did NOT include the cost of educational or medical services, the latter of which are likely to be significantly higher than average for many people with autism.

    • Apr 13 2016 11:00 AM
    • by brian
  9. Number of California Students Classified as Aut...

    January 21, 2016- "Number of California Students Classified as Autistic Jumps for 14th Consecutive Year"- More than 90,000 California public school students are on the autism spectrum, a number that has risen more than six-fold since 2001, according to the latest data from the California Department of Education. The figure represents a jump of about 6,000 students, or 7 percent, from 2013-14 to 2014-15. Since 2001, the number of students with autism has risen by 7 percent or more each year. The article concludes with a brief synopsis of proposed theories regarding the dramatic rise in autism diagnosis since the new millennium.

    • Jan 25 2016 10:43 AM
    • by brian
  10. Altered Cell Cycle Gene Activity Underlies Brai...

    December 14, 2015- "Altered Cell Cycle Gene Activity Underlies Brain Growth in Autistic Toddlers"- Recently, researchers described for the first time how abnormal gene activity in cell cycle networks that are known to control brain cell production may underlie abnormal early brain growth in people with autism. According to Eric Courchesne, the senior author on the study, these findings may explain why there are abnormal numbers of brain cells in autism, why the brain grows abnormally too large or too small in some ASD toddlers, and how previously reported diverse gene mutations may, in fact, converge in their effects via common genomic pathways.  

    • Dec 15 2015 10:41 AM
    • by brian
  11. Being on the Autism Spectrum isn't Holding...

    December 8, 2015- "Being on the Autism Spectrum isn't Holding back Costa Mesa Man"- Matthew Kenslow is a 20-year-old man with autism who has uncanny abilities at solving math problems and reciting memorized facts at the drop of a hat. His savant-like abilities has Dr. Jay Gargus, director of the Center for Autism Research and Translation at UC Irvine, perplexed and amazed at his talents, causing him to state that it is hard to view Kenslow’s autism as a disability at all. The article goes on to discuss Matthew’s accomplishments throughout his life such as memorizing all the books of the Bible by the 5th grade, flawlessly playing a rendition of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” at the age of ten, and becoming a certified medical responder through Orange County’s Regional Occupational Program in 2012. Featured at the conclusion of the article is Matthew showing off his amazing capacity for knowledge.

    • Dec 09 2015 09:58 AM
    • by brian
  12. Autism Advocates Burn Over State Plan

    November 17, 2015- "Autism Advocates Burn Over State Plan"- Advocates in California have called the proposed requirements for Medi-Cal beneficiaries to receive ABA therapy “onerous and a barrier to accessing care.” The letter outlined the process for autism diagnosis and rules for treatment, which have been deemed excessive and will impede access to care for many of the estimated 75,000 Medi-Cal kids in California with autism, according to advocates. Some of the criticized aspects of the draft include a lengthy diagnostic assessment for every Medi-Cal beneficiary, even if a child has already been diagnosed, an assessment by a speech pathologist and occupational therapist before treatment can begin, therapy is not to be conducted in a school setting, and participating providers need to file a status update every month to managed care plans.    

    • Nov 18 2015 11:41 AM
    • by brian
  13. Autism Glass Project Kicks off

    November 2, 2015- "Autism Glass Project Kicks off"- Stanford University’s Autism Glass Project utilizes the front facing camera on Google Glass to read facial expressions of people with whom the user interacts. The current algorithm can distinguish between eight of the most vital reactions and then immediately relay information back to the child through visual and auditory clues. Essentially, the device decrypts and develops cues to basic emotions for the users to recognize in real time. Many people think the device will be more effective than certain autism interventions because it allows the user to practice social skills in their natural settings, as oppose to in a therapist’s office. However, the developers want to utilize Google Glass as an educating tool, not something that individuals use every day as a crutch. The second phase of the Autism Glass Project will not be confined to the clinical environment, but will instead track users as they take the glasses home for three to four months to be used in natural settings. Yesterday, we posted an article which discussed how researchers at NIU are working towards customizing Google Glass technology to provide job training for teenagers with autism.

    • Nov 03 2015 11:44 AM
    • by brian
  14. Stanford Researchers Treat Autism with Google G...

    October 18, 2015- "Stanford Researchers Treat Autism with Google Glass"- The Autism Glass Project is entering its second research phase in which a 100 participants will test the technology's viability as at-home autism treatment. The Autism Glass Project is a research project designed to test the effectiveness of Google Glass as a means of teaching recognition of emotions to its wearers with autism. Phase 2 of the project is discussed in detail along with potential future endeavors related to Google Glass.

    • Oct 20 2015 10:19 AM
    • by brian
  15. Autism in Children Linked to Increased Blood Fl...

    October 18, 2015- "Autism in Children Linked to Increased Blood Flow in Brain"- Research on children and teenagers with autism found that kids with ASD had an extended and increased blood flow in their brain, a process known as hyper-perfusion. This intense activity was taking place mostly in the frontal areas of the brain that are essential in learning and handling social communication. Compared to neurotypical children, the researchers also found that kids with ASD have decreased long-range connections between remote parts of their brain, indicating that information does not circulate from one region to another as it should.

    • Oct 19 2015 09:51 AM
    • by brian
  16. New Autism Genes are Revealed in Largest-Ever S...

    September 28, 2015- "New Autism Genes are Revealed in Largest-Ever Study"- In the largest, most comprehensive genomic analysis of autism to date, researchers have identified 65 genes that play a role in the disorder, 28 of which are reported with "very high confidence," meaning that there is a 99 percent certainty that the genes contribute to the risk of developing ASD. Additionally, the study confirms six "risk regions," or segments of chromosomes that contain several genes, which, when lost or gained, contribute to ASD risk. In combination with the 65 risk genes, this results in 71 ASD risk loci, or locations.

    • Apr 19 2016 01:53 PM
    • by brian
  17. Autism Researchers Seek More Brains to Study

    September 26, 2015- "Autism Researchers Seek More Brains to Study"- Autism research is being hindered by a lack of accessible brains available to for study. To help rectify this situation and advance autism research, the consortium known as Autism BrainNet has launched the “It Takes Brains” campaign aimed at potential donors of both autistic and healthy brains. Researchers have found it particularly difficult to find donors of the brains of very young children, which are critical to understanding the altercations that lead to autism.  

    • Sep 28 2015 01:27 PM
    • by brian
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. CA Student with Autism Left on School Bus, Dies

    September 15, 2015- "CA Student with Autism Left on School Bus, Dies"- Tragically, Hun Joon Lee, a 19-year-old who has autism and is nonverbal, was found unresponsive in the back of the school bus Friday afternoon after presumably being trapped in there since morning. When Lee failed to arrive home on the 4 PM bus, his mother called the school. The school contacted Pupil Transportations saying they were missing a student. That is when the bus driver walked through the bus yard and discovered Lee lying unresponsive in the aisle. Attempts to perform CPR were unsuccessful. The investigation into how this tragic incident occurred is ongoing.

    • Sep 16 2015 08:49 AM
    • by brian
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. Teen Musician Blows Away his Limitations

    August 2, 2015- "Teen Musician Blows Away his Limitations"-  Alexander Pruetting is 15-years-old and was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2. Alexander has difficulty verbally communicating, but can play the alto sax stupendously, earning himself a scholarship to a prestigious jazz camp, which he attended alongside his father. His father, Chris, was also there in a learning capacity as the camp teaches students with a vast age range from 14 to over 70. The presence of his father helped Alexander to relax and to aide him with day-to-day activities. Interested readers can learn about Alexander’s experience in his own words.

    • Aug 04 2015 09:44 AM
    • by brian
  24. Young Adults with Autism Show Improved Social F...

    July 31, 2015- "Young Adults with Autism Show Improved Social Function Following UCLA Skills Program"- A study demonstrated the effectiveness of a social skills programs known as Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills, or PEERS, at UCLA. According to founder and director of the UCLA PEERS Clinic, this is an important study because there are very few social skills interventions currently in existence for young adults on the spectrum, and aside from PEERS, none has been shown through research to be effective. Participants within the PEERS group improved significantly in the areas of social skills, frequency of social engagement, and social skills knowledge, and autism symptoms related to social responsiveness diminished. While these results are promising, it should be pointed out that only 22 participants took part in the study.

    • Aug 04 2015 09:04 AM
    • by brian
  25. Autistic Teen from St. Augustine Sees Script He...

    July 25, 2015- "Autistic Teen from St. Augustine Sees Script Head to Screen after a 6-year Wait"- Keaton Bicknell, an 18-year-old on the spectrum, recently got to see his script come to life, a script that he started writing when he was 11. At age 2, Keaton was diagnosed with autism and his mother was told he may never learn to speak. Keaton’s work, “The Adventures of Pelican Pete: A Bird is Born,” premiered recently at the San Diego International Children’s Film Festival at Comic Con. The article goes on to discuss Keaton’s achievement and the longitudinal task of bring the 6-year-old project to life.

    • Jul 27 2015 03:20 PM
    • by brian