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Anxiety is common in people with autism – but is is different than other types of anxiety or similar? Is it part of the autism phenotype? When does it start and what triggers it? Two new studies which use a longitudinal design and examine the links between autism features, anxiety symptoms and brain development are summarized this week. It shows th…
 
Thanks to Dr. Susan Kuo at Broad Research Institute and MIT, there is an analysis of 17,000 individuals with autism across 4 different studies that all looked at how developmental milestones emerged. The results show a great deal of diversity – across different studies, time, intellectual disability and genetic background. Different groups of peopl…
 
New neurons can be generated in a dish (amazing in itself), and then these neurons can then be studied to examine how they grow, expand, divide and connect. Using this technology, researchers are finding differences in several cell functions in different forms of autism. These differences are in proliferation, which is an increase in the number of …
 
This week we discuss the CANDID meeting: Consortium for Autism, Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Digestive Diseases, what was shared, what was learned, and where doctors and researchers need to do more. They included the link between the brain-gut connection, challenges in diagnosis, ongoing studies, potential solutions, and what pediatric gastroen…
 
We’ve heard a lot about social robots – do they help? One or two studies are not going to answer this, but a systematic review and meta analysis will! It turns out when you combined all the data, they do help in social abilities, but not other areas. This is how technology can help those with autism, especially technology which can be adapted to ad…
 
This week’s podcast highlights a paper from the IBIS (infant brain imaging study) that tracks infants from 6 months to 5 years of age to examine how ASD symptoms cluster together. These infants either have a diagnosis or they don’t, or they have something which doesn’t meet diagnostic threshold but is still impairing in some way. Ignoring the actua…
 
This year’s first podcast dedicated to COVID issues explores both caregiver and clinician satisfaction with telehealth. New studies explore this satisfaction with assessment as well as psychiatric interventions. Also, as a follow up to the INSAR presentations on resiliency in mental health, a new study from Canada explains what may be at the core o…
 
This week, the #ASFpodcast explores different types of interventions for which the core autism features are not necessarily the target, but those that enhance quality of life and provide help for irritability and emotional dysregulation. They include cooking, music therapies and antipsychotic medications. While they may not be effective in core aut…
 
At this year’s International Society of Autism Research meeting in Austin, TX, there was a variety of themes explored. From early development and milestones, to intervention and supports, to different features like sensory issues, treatment, and how to solve the problem of heterogeneity. It comes down to this: Autism means different things to diffe…
 
This week is a pharmacopeia of inflation. The #ASFpodcast talks debilitating gastrointestinal issues and new efforts to understand and treat them (including the CANDID meeting www.candidgi.com), a new method to understand adverse events in those that cannot report them on their own, and new news on Celexa, which is used to treat anxiety. www.candid…
 
The amygdala has been shown to be differently sized in autistic people – at first it is too big then it becomes smaller than typically developing people. But how early are these differences seen and does it relate to a diagnosis? The Infant Brain Imaging Study tackled this question in a recent study which compared … Continue reading "How that littl…
 
In February, the CDC worked with the American Academy of Pediatrics to update the developmental milestones that parents should use when referencing how their child is developing. These milestones describe what should be accomplished by times as young as 2 months and as old as 5 months. These are helpful to all parents who wonder … Continue reading …
 
Parents or caregivers of children with ASD sometimes have a lot of difficulty helping their child brush their teeth. Parents and caregivers of children not on the spectrum have difficulty helping their child brush their teeth. By working with families on an individual level, coaching, encouraging and breaking down each of the steps of tooth … Conti…
 
This year’s Day of Learning was a huge success, with topics ranging from biological sex differences to mobile technologies all the way to the importance and documented value of leisure activities in people on the spectrum. the speakers included a discussion of the IACC, sex differences, the value of prevalence data, mobile technologies, leisure act…
 
The answer is obviously “no”, however, animal models are necessary to help understand brain circuitry and improve interventions and supports for not just core symptoms but associated issues like anxiety, OCD, seizures and GI issues. Scientists view behaviors consistent with an ASD diagnosis differently, and this has created some problems in interpr…
 
Environmental exposures, including toxic chemicals, can contribute to the causes of ASD. But how do other environmental factors, like behavioral supports, work in the brain to improve behaviors associated with ASD? For this, you need a broad interpretation of the term “environmental” and an animal model so you can see the mechanism involved. Studie…
 
This week’s podcast focuses on innovative methodologies to understand how to reach black families, understand why and when autistic people prefer not to look at faces and how interventions can improve conversation and social communication. They use culturally and racially matched mentors, old home video tapes (keep taking those!) and machine learni…
 
Several studies have linked the immune system to autism, but how are they connected? Two new studies this week illustrate differences in immune function in those with a diagnosis compared to those without, and also find differences in the blood of of pregnant mothers who go on to have an autistic child. Women who go … Continue reading "Is Autism In…
 
Autism diagnosis at 3 years of age isn’t something that happens suddenly. It evolves, there are deficits seen early on and markers that are evident prior to 3 years. Some of them are cascading events – with problems in one area like motor function, other behaviors like reaching, grasping, and learning about the environment and … Continue reading "W…
 
This week is a “brick-a-brack”: of topics. They include: 1. how COVID-19 is especially dangerous for people with neurodevelopmental disorders; 2. how certain genes associated with neurodevelopmental disorders can affect other body functions other than the brain (like the digestive system and kidney function and metabolism); and finally, 3. why pare…
 
Parents are now used as intervention partners through a design called parent-mediated intervention. It started to be studied before the pandemic but has now become a necessity. Does it work? Should it always work for everything? How long should the intervention last and how often? These are all questions of interest, and while research is … Continu…
 
This week, we talk to Karla Rivera-Figueroa and Inge-Marie Eigsti, who together with Nana Yaa A. Marfo published a systematic review asking about parental perceptions of autism in both LatinX and Black Sociocultural contexts. Six themes popped out, and the question for Karla and Dr Eigsti were “how can research help”? What funding opportunities, cu…
 
Most people with autism have some sort of sensory dysfunction: hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity or sensory avoiding behaviors to touch, smell, sound, light. But a new study looking at kids from the Study to Explore Early Development (SEED) suggest that it may be more important than you think. In fact, it was the only feature to … Continue readin…
 
It’s up! The 2021 Year End Summary of Autism Science. It covers everything from glial cells to girls and females, from those that are traditionally underserved to the genetic underpinnings of ASD and siblings and everything in between. It’s a 30 minute recap of the highlights of research from the past 365 days. You can … Continue reading "The 2021 …
 
On Tuesday, the journal Lancet published a 2+ year long endeavor around understanding the heterogeneity of autism not just in features but in access to services for individuals and families across the world. They called for a stepped care to help individualize and prioritize needs in different individuals based on their needs, not their diagnosis. …
 
You have heard a lot about how the pandemic affected those with a diagnosis – and it isn’t good. Recent studies have turned their attention to stress and anxiety and depression of caregivers during the pandemic. It was higher in those parents with children of a neurodevelopmental disorder, but it was also complicated, related to … Continue reading …
 
On this week’s podcast, we interview Dr. Giacomo Vivanti from the AJ Drexel Autism Institute who, together with Daniel Messinger from University of Miami, wrote an analysis of how research and intervention have changed since the DSMIII was written 40 years ago. They include theories of the causes of autism, the theories of the deficits … Continue r…
 
Two weeks ago the topic was gene x environment interactions. But some genetic variants, including rare genetic variants, can exert huge influence on a diagnosis by themselves. New data from genetic samples that have been sequenced are showing an increase in the number of these genes and the role of these genes, and how they … Continue reading "Rare…
 
The practice of ABA, or applied behavioral analysis, can be easily misunderstood. Rather than a single procedure, ABA is a variety of techniques that can be applied to different situations to improve communication, reduce aggression, and improve the quality of life of people on the spectrum. Why is it getting a bad reputation? Is the … Continue rea…
 
You have maybe heard about how environmental exposures after conception or birth may affect genetic expression and then risk of developing autism. But what research has been done to look at preconceptional exposures, presumably exposures that affect the cells that then give rise to sperm and eggs? Turns out they are susceptible to some environmenta…
 
A couple of weeks ago, a group in Australia published a study that investigated the efficacy of a “preemptive” intervention. That is, what happens if you provide support to parents to improve social communication, interaction and skills in infants before a diagnosis can be made? The results have a lot of meaningful implications of what … Continue r…
 
You may know this as “masking” or “camouflaging” where autistic adults intentionally or unintentionally hide their autistic features to pass as non-autistic because they want to hide some of their challenges. This week, Drs. Erin Libsack and Matthew Lerner from Stony Brook University summarize a systematic review on this behavior. The original goal…
 
Instead of a podcast, this week is a message in honor of the 1 year anniversary of the death of advocate and mother Feda Amaliti. Stay safe. Out of this tragedy, a website has been built that contains information for families on how to prepare for an unexpected emergency and what to do when it … Continue reading "September26.org"…
 
Early changes in eye gaze – or the time spent looking at another person’s face compared to the scene around them – is diminished in ASD. It starts to decline at about 12 months and is linked to later social communication behaviors. But many people wonder why this is an early developing behavior worth studying? … Continue reading "Who cares about ey…
 
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34378867/ There have been several small, or small-ish, studies looking at the link between dementia and autism or ID. However, recently, the largest medical record study of 500k people, 12k of which were autistic and 26k were autistic and had ID, examining early onset dementia was published. Those with ASD had a 1.9 …
 
Siblings of people on the spectrum, including autistic adults, are amazing. They support, advocate, fundraise, and now we know they actually have a direct influence on the outcome of their affected brother or sister. What’s that effect? When is it most obvious? Does gender or race matter? All of these questions will be answered by … Continue readin…
 
Food insecurity during the pandemic is affecting us all, but even before the pandemic it was a greater problem in families affected by ASD. Now, during the pandemic and restrictions in access to food, food programs at schools and unemployment, it’s an even bigger problem. Dr. Arun Kapur from Autism Speaks describes his study examining … Continue re…
 
It’s estimated that anywhere from 10%-30% of females on the spectrum also suffer from an eating disorder, and that autistic traits are high (even without a diagnosis of ASD) in those with eating disorders. There is clearly crossover in the underlying biology somehow, but while that is being determined – help for those with ASD … Continue reading "E…
 
Children and infants who later go on to have an autism diagnosis show impairments in communication. Is there anything that parents can do? Yes! Talk. Talk in complicated sentences. Talk responsively and keep it up. This isn’t always an inherent skill, it’s learned, and in this podcast we talk about the biological basis of why … Continue reading "Ta…
 
While there are commonalities across autistic adults on many things, they differ. It might be time to stop saying “…..all autistic adults” when describing those on the spectrum. For example, for the most part, most autistic adults prefer email or text over other methods except when talking to friends and family. It was not universal, … Continue rea…
 
It turns out that autistic individuals have a higher rate of gender variance than those not on the spectrum. This doesn’t require treatment in the traditional sense, but a better awareness, psychosocial supports, and understanding among clinicians that can provide services and help for those that need it. Today’s podcast focuses on recent studies l…
 
Is it genes or is it the environment? or is it a combination? This question has plagued researchers and scientists and caused a lot of confusion in families about what caused their own or their child’s ASD. This week we review the mechanisms by which de-novo mutations could be the work of gene x environment … Continue reading "What causes autism? G…
 
There have been a lot of questions about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine, especially now that it is being offered to everyone 12 and up. At first it was restricted to the elderly, now other groups are eligible. But not everyone wants the vaccine and in fact about 30% of Americans either refuse or … Continue reading "Why would you not get vaccina…
 
What babies look at during development and how much time they spend looking at people vs things has received a lot of criticism from some advocates who feel scientists should be spending less time on differences and more on practical solutions. Those two concepts are getting closer and closer and our early understandings of early … Continue reading…
 
What causes some of the differences across people with autism? Can you predict who will have what features of autism by looking first at genetics? This week’s ASFpodcast is the first 20 minutes of a webinar with Samuel Chawner from Cardiff University that explains his findings about behavioral features across people with autism with difference … Co…
 
On this week’s podcast, we answer your question: “what’s the evidence of a gut-brain connection”? We can’t answer that question without starting off with a description of the microbiome. The microbiome is the colony of organisms in your gastrointestinal system that is showing increasing evidence of influencing brain function. We asked three experts…
 
If you missed this year’s Day of Learning, the videos will be up soon. But if you are a podcast listener, you can listen a 20 minute recap on this week’s podcast. The topics included the effects of the pandemic on family functioning and clinician diagnosis and assessments, lessons learned through the pandemic, the role … Continue reading "The 2021 …
 
This week’s ASF podcast topic comes from the listeners: what is the link between ASD and ADHD? Do parents diagnosed with ADHD have a greater chance of having a child with ASD? What are the similarities and differences? And what do families need to know? We interviewed Dr. Meghan Miller from the University of California … Continue reading "You asked…
 
Scientists who help families affected by ASD may look like they have it all together, but the pandemic has been catastrophic not just on discoveries to help families, but to the people who conduct research, meet with families, and provide services. They have lives too, and those lives have interrupted their abilities to provide care … Continue read…
 
What topics have been on your mind that you would like to hear about on a podcast? Is it scientific? Theoretical? Abstract? concrete? Would you like to hear from an expert and which one? Do you not know but you want to hear more? Come at me: ahalladay@autismsciencefoundation.org and TELL me what topics are of … Continue reading "Tell us what you wa…
 
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