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  1. Chemicals Banned Decades Ago Linked to Increase...

    August 23, 2016- "Chemicals Banned Decades Ago Linked to Increased Autism Risk Today"- A study from  A.J. Drexel Autism Institute found that children born after being exposed to the highest levels of certain compounds of chemicals, called organochlorine chemicals, during their mother’s pregnancy were roughly 80 percent more likely to be diagnosed with autism when compared to individuals with the very lowest levels of these chemicals. The team looked at a 1,144 children born in Southern California between 2000 and 2003. It was determined that two compounds in particular – PCB 138/158 and PCB 153 – were found to be significantly linked with autism risk. Children with the highest in utero levels of these two forms of PCBs were between 79 and 82 percent more likely to have an autism diagnosis, relative to those exposed to the lowest levels.

    • Sep 01 2016 08:19 AM
    • by brian
  2. Feds Move to End Segregated Schools for Kids wi...

    August 22, 2016- "Feds Move to End Segregated Schools for Kids with Disabilities"- The U.S. Department of Justice is filing a lawsuit claiming Georgia has violated the civil rights of students assigned to the Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support (GNETS) program, citing a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires students with disabilities to be educated as often as possible with children who are typically developing. The agency is seeking the closure of the 24 GNETS programs.  An investigation carried out by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Georgia schools assigned a vastly disproportionate number of African-American Students to GNETs program. Additionally, restraints were used nearly 10,000 times, five times more than at the state’s other 2,300 public schools combined.

    • Aug 22 2016 09:48 AM
    • by brian
  3. Autism and Snorting: Parents Seek Help with New...

    August 19, 2016- "Autism and Snorting: Parents Seek Help with New 'Stim' Behavior"- Occupational therapist Moira Pena lends her expertise to a family inquiring about what steps to take to help curtail or replace the newly developed “stim” of snorting. The parents believe the constant snorting may stem from a sensory stimulation, but, as Moira Pena suggests, it is important to rule out all potential causes with the assistance of a medical professional. It is suggested that the parents address the issue by trying to get at the heart of the problem, while keeping a log of the behavior to track frequency and intensity. The article concludes with strategies on how to gradually quell or replace the behavior.

    • Aug 19 2016 11:32 AM
    • by brian
  4. Reckless Report Exaggerates Flaws in Brain Scan...

    August 16, 2016- "Reckless Report Exaggerates Flaws in Brain Scan Software"- In this opinion piece, the author argues that a report from June which suggests a bug in brain scanning program highlights hotspots of brain activity that are not actually present, is itself flawed. The author argues the June report grossly overstates the software snafu on studies that involve fMRI. In their report, the researchers say the bug and other flaws in the fMRI software and analysis call the results of 40,000 research papers into question. However, this article argues that this and other criticisms of fMRI imaging in the report have been highly exaggerated.  

    • Aug 17 2016 01:42 PM
    • by brian
  5. Tracking Time can be Tricky for Children with A...

    August 11, 2016- "Tracking Time can be Tricky for Children with Autism"- A new study suggests that inability to rely on past experiences as a guide results in trouble estimating time. The findings could explain why some people with autism have anxiety and social difficulties. One researcher suggests that difficulties with time perception may also cause the world to seem unpredictable, causing heightened anxiety in individuals with autism.

    • Sep 01 2016 08:25 AM
    • by brian
  6. 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
  7. Common Brain Signature Marks Autism, Attention...

    August 8, 2016- "Common Brain Signature Marks Autism, Attention Deficit"- The first comparison of brain architecture between autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and ADHD has found that all are associated with disruptions in the structure of the corpus callosum. Clinicians may find it difficult to distinguish autism from ADHD based on symptoms alone. However, according to researchers, if the conditions are mark by similar structural problems in the brain, the same interventions might be useful no matter what the diagnosis is.

    • Aug 08 2016 10:17 AM
    • by brian
  8. 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
  9. Timing of Autism Diagnosis Tied to Choice of Tr...

    August 5, 2016- "Timing of Autism Diagnosis Tied to Choice of Treatment"- A new study suggests that families of children diagnosed with autism before age 4 are more likely to seek out behavioral therapy and less likely to treat their children with drugs than those diagnosed later on. The study observed 722 children between the ages of 6 and 11 with autism. On average, their parents discussed developmental concerns with a health care provider when the child was just over 2 years old, and the average age of diagnosis was more than 4 years of age. Children diagnosed before age 4 were more likely to receive behavioral therapy. Those diagnosed later were more likely to be treated with medications. Furthermore, the use of complementary and alternative therapies was nearly twice as likely when more than two years had elapsed between initial discussion and diagnosis.

    • Aug 07 2016 11:53 AM
    • by brian
  10. Concerns About Overlapping ASD Research Persist

    August 2, 2016- "Concerns About Overlapping ASD Research Persist"- In 2013, the U.S Government Accountability Office raised alarm bells with a report suggesting that 84 percent of autism research projects funded by the federal government between 2008 and 2012 might be redundant. A new report from the GAO suggests that federal agencies have done a better job of ensuring autism research activities are not unnecessarily duplicative. Despite this, the GAO remains steadfast in their 2013 recommendations that more coordination occur across the dozen or more agencies that collectively spent $1.4  billion for autism research, awareness projects, training, and other activities.

    • Aug 05 2016 12:22 PM
    • by brian
  11. Never Mind Statistics: Adults with Autism May b...

    August 4, 2016- "Never Mind Statistics: Adults with Autism May be Happy"- A longitudinal study following 100 boys and men with Asperger syndrome for roughly 20 years yielded some interesting findings. During the first follow-up, about 10 years ago, 26 percent of the 70 participants who responded lived a "restricted life," indicating that had no employment prospects and few or no friends. In the most recent study, 50 of the men answered written questions about their friendships, employment status, and other details about their lives. Despite many social and employment concerns, the men overall appeared to be happy, according to the researchers. Moreover, the 24 men who have autism along with another psychiatric condition, such as ADHD or depression, seemed to have a worse quality of life than those who have autism alone, according to the adversity measure. This result suggests that the greatest hardship comes from having multiple conditions.

    • Aug 04 2016 12:27 PM
    • by brian
  12. Hearing Test May Predict Autism Risk Sooner: Study

    August 1, 2016- "Hearing Test May Predict Autism Risk Sooner: Study"- Researchers from the University of Rochester say they have identified an inner-ear problem in children with autism that may impair their ability to recognize speech. For the study, researchers tested the hearing of children between ages 6 and 17 with and without autism. Those with autism had hearing difficulty in a specific frequency that is important for processing speech. Moreover, the degree of hearing impairment was associated with the severity of autism symptoms, according to the study.

    • Aug 04 2016 12:28 PM
    • by brian
  13. The Genes Underlying Autism are Coming Into Focus

    August 1, 2016- "The Genes Underlying Autism are Coming Into Focus"- The introduction of this article discusses how researchers found that CHD8 is one of the now recognized genetic subtypes of autism, while the bulk of the article delves deeper into the world of genetics and autism. Aside from a wealth of information on how genes are systematically linked to autism, this article includes a breakdown of about a dozen or more genes and how they directly impact the development of autism, from affecting chromatin structure to neuron motility.

    • Aug 02 2016 09:01 AM
    • by brian
  14. Pekin Native Scales Kilimanjaro to Make a Point

    July 30, 2016- "Pekin Native Scales Kilimanjaro to Make a Point"- When Becci Monge's daughter Emilia, who is on the autism spectrum, came home from her private school distraught over how hard her schoolwork was, Becci and her friend had an epiphany which led them to climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. Becci climbed Africa's tallest peak as an example that the seemingly impossible can become a reality if you work hard enough at it. The article details the journey of Becci and her "She-Trekker" companions as they navigated the harsh terrain up and down the towering mountain.

    • Aug 01 2016 10:29 AM
    • by brian
  15. Technology May Help Doctors Learn To Address Au...

    July 29, 2016- "Technology May Help Doctors Learn To Address Autism"- A new program called ECHO Autism evaluated whether practicing pediatricians could be trained to screen for an treat autism in a series of remote training sessions. Over a period of 6 months, a dozen physicians participated in biweekly videoconferencing sessions where learned how to spot autism and address the disorder's medical and psychiatric impact. After participating in the training, doctors were twice as likely to screen their patients for autism in accordance with professional recommendations.

    • Aug 01 2016 09:59 AM
    • by brian
  16. Neurons from Boys with Autism Grow Unusually Fast

    July 28, 2016- "Neurons from Boys with Autism Grow Unusually Fast"- A new study on 8 males with autism found that their brain cells share a host of unusual characteristics. The features include impaired signaling through a pathway that controls cell growth. The findings suggest that glitches in this pathway, known as WNT, cause developing brain cells to grow too rapidly, and contribute to the unusually large brains that about one-fifth of children with autism have in early life. Furthermore, each of the subjects in the study has a different set of mutations in genes linked to the condition. This indicates that genetically distinct causes of autism affect the same molecular pathways.

    • Jul 28 2016 08:05 AM
    • by brian
  17. Study Finds Induced Labor Not Associated With R...

    July 25, 2016- "Study Finds Induced Labor Not Associated With Risk for Autism Disorders"- A new study out of Harvard has found the induction of labor appears not to be associated with increased risk of autism spectrum disorders in children. This report disputes a large study in 2013 that found an association between induction of labor and risk of autism in offspring, which gained widespread media attention. Researchers in the Harvard study believe the previous study found a link between induced labor and increased autism risk because "many of the factors that could lead to both induction of labor and autism are completely or partially shared by siblings -- such as maternal characteristics or socioeconomic or genetic factors. Finding no association when comparing siblings suggests that previously observed associations could have been due to some familial factors -- not the result of induction."

    • Jul 28 2016 07:50 AM
    • by brian
  18. In First, Insurer to Offer ABA Coverage Nationwide

    July 22, 2016- "In First, Insurer to Offer ABA Coverage Nationwide'- UnitedHealthcare, the nation’s largest health insurer, will include coverage of applied behavior analysis in every group plan it offers starting next year. In a recent statement, the company announced they “will be extending ABA benefit coverage to new and renewing fully insured small and large group plans in the few remaining states that do not mandate ABA coverage.” Additionally, ABA benefits will be part of all self-funded plans administered by UnitedHealtcare unless companies explicitly choose to opt out. The decision has been deemed an unprecedented move for a large insurance company and is expected to impact at least 250,000 individuals affected by autism.

    • Jul 25 2016 10:58 AM
    • by brian
  19. For Children with Autism, Multiple Languages Ma...

    July 25, 2016- "For Children with Autism, Multiple Languages May be a Boon"- Traditionally, pediatricians, educators, and speech therapists have advised multilingual families to speak one language, the predominant one where they live, to children with autism or other developmental delays. The reasoning behind this is that children on the spectrum often struggle to learn language, so focusing on a single one is for the better. However, there is a no data to support this notion. This article discusses a handful of studies demonstrating that children with autism can learn two languages as well as they learn one, and might even thrive in multilingual environments.  

    • Jul 25 2016 10:56 AM
    • by brian
  20. Toilet Training Dilemma: Our 6-Year-Old Fights...

    July 22, 2016- "Toilet Training Dilemma: Our 6-Year-Old Fights Going Near the Bathroom"- Behavior analyst Daniel W. Mruzek and graduate student Angeles Nunez tackle the predicament one family finds themselves in trying to toilet train their 6-year-old on the spectrum. First and foremost, they recommend ruling out any medical conditions by visiting with a pediatrician. Once a medical condition has been ruled out, they recommend working to discover the “why” of the child’s aversion to the bathroom and offer some advice for easing the training experience. Interested readers can also visit our blog section for our article on Toilet Training Tips.  

    • Jul 22 2016 11:19 AM
    • by brian
  21. Epilepsy in Family Members Raises Risk of Autism

    July 21, 2016- "Epilepsy in Family Members Raises Risk of Autism"- While it has been determined that about one in three people with autism also have epilepsy, a new study has quantified the risk in the opposite direction. A study of 690,000 people in Sweden found that people with epilepsy are at eight times the risk of developing autism as the general population. The study also found that siblings and children of individuals with epilepsy are also at an increased risk.  

    • Jul 22 2016 10:40 AM
    • by brian
  22. 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
  23. Paths to Autism: One of Many?

    July 19, 2016- "Paths to Autism: One of Many?"- A new meta-analysis of behavioral and imaging studies challenges the widely held assumption that stems from impairment specifically in social brain networks. According to this article, past research into autism’s origins have primarily focused on social behaviors, based on the assumption that abnormalities in social brain networks arise early in life and compound throughout development. However, the new research examining infants at risk for autism demonstrate evidence for general abnormalities during the first year of life, including delayed motor maturation, higher level of perceptual sensitivity, and poor attention flexibility. The authors also point to brain imaging studies that provide evidence for widespread alteration throughout brain networks, rather than focal deficits in social networks.

    • Jul 20 2016 12:15 PM
    • by brian
  24. Wandering Bill Gains Senate Approval

    July 15, 2016- "Wandering Bill Gains Senate Approval"- The U.S. Senate has unanimously approved legislation to provide tracking devices and other resources to help kids with autism and developmental disabilities at the risk of wandering. The legislation would authorize the U.S. Department of Justice to provide grants to law enforcement agencies to pay for electronic tracking devices for those with developmental disabilities who are prone to bolting. Specifically, $2 million would be directed annually to the program, which would include tracking devices as well as training and other efforts to address wandering. The bill now has to clear the hurdles of the House before reaching the president’s desk.

    • Jul 18 2016 09:54 AM
    • by brian
  25. Pokémon Go App Set to Help Children on Autism S...

    July 15, 2016- "Pokémon Go App Set to Help Children on Autism Spectrum"- Released earlier this month, the Pokémon Go app has mushroomed into a global phenomenon. This article discusses how this app can improve social skills in children with autism by connecting individuals on the with others through this common interest and by effectively pulling children away from their consoles and into nature.

    • Jul 18 2016 09:38 AM
    • by brian