Social Skills

Language as a Window into Sociability

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
August 13, 2010
Abstract: 

People with Williams syndrome-known for their indiscriminate friendliness and ease with strangers-process spoken language differently from people with autism spectrum disorders-characterized by social withdrawal and isolation-found researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

Kids with Autism Not Helped by Parent Training Alone

Source: 
Web MD
Date Published: 
May 20, 2010
Abstract: 

Training parents to adapt communication to their child's impairments doesn't affect the child's autism but does help the parent-child relationship, U.K. researchers find. The idea was that training parents to respond to their child's specific communication needs would jump-start the child's social development and improve the child's general communication skills.

First Direct Recording Made of Mirror Neurons in Human Brain

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
April 13, 2010
Abstract: 

Neuroscientists believe this "mirroring" is the mechanism by which we can "read" the minds of others and empathize with them. It's how we "feel" someone's pain, how we discern a grimace from a grin, a smirk from a smile. Problem was, there was no proof that mirror neurons existed -- only suspicion and indirect evidence. Dr. Itzhak Fried, a UCLA professor of neurosurgery and of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences, Roy Mukamel, a postdoctoral fellow in Fried's lab, and their colleagues have for the first time made a direct recording of mirror neurons in the human brain.

It's suspected that dysfunction of these mirror cells might be involved in disorders such as autism, where the clinical signs can include difficulties with verbal and nonverbal communication, imitation and having empathy for others. So gaining a better understanding of the mirror neuron system might help devise strategies for treatment of this disorder.

Intensive Treatment Found To Be Highly Effective

Source: 
Newswise
Date Published: 
April 6, 2010
Abstract: 

Results of a randomized clinical trial found an innovative multi-component summer social development program to be effective in improving the social performance of children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders.

Oxytocin Improves Social Behavior of Patients, French Study Finds

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
February 17, 2010
Abstract: 

Autism is a disease characterized by difficulties in communicating effectively with other people and developing social relationships. A team led by Angela Sirigu at the Centre de Neuroscience Cognitive (CNRS) has shown that the inhalation of oxytocin, a hormone known to promote mother-infant bonds and social relationships, significantly improved the abilities of autistic patients to interact with other individuals.

Cartoon Trains Teach Autistic Children About Emotions

Source: 
The Sydney Morning Herald
Date Published: 
January 7, 2010
Abstract: 

Putting a human face on a cartoon train, bus or tram proved to help children with autism understand emotions. The head of the University of Cambridge's Autism Research Centre, Simon Baron-Cohen, conducted a study using a series of 15 animated stories called The Transporters. Each episode focused on a different emotion - from simple ones such as happy, sad and angry to more complex emotions such as sorry, ashamed, tired and joking. The findings showed children with autism spectrum conditions had improved emotion recognition after watching the 3D program for 15 minutes a day over a month.

Those Kids

Source: 
Huffington Post
Date Published: 
December 15, 2009
Abstract: 

Disgruntled mother writes about her frustrations with the use of the phrase "Those Kids" by community members to describe autistic children like her son.

How the Autistic Brain Distinguishes Oneself from Others

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
December 14, 2009
Abstract: 

Scientists at the University of Cambridge have discovered that the brains of individuals with autism are less active when engaged in self-reflective thought. The study published in the journal Brain provides new evidence for the neural correlates of self-awareness and a new window into understanding social difficulties in autism spectrum conditions.

Baby Face--Harvard Experts Hope Facial Recognition Studies Benefit Autism Research

Source: 
ABC News
Date Published: 
December 4, 2009
Abstract: 

Researchers at Children's Hospital Boston studying the science of how babies read facial expressions say they're hoping their results will prove useful for autism and developmental research. Scientists at Harvard believe emotion detection is so crucial in everyday life that they're willing to cajole babies into an electrode "net" to see how to see how humans first learn to read faces.

Early Intervention for Toddlers With Autism Highly Effective, Study Finds

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
November 30, 2009
Abstract: 

A novel early intervention program for very young children with autism -- some as young as 18 months -- is effective for improving IQ, language ability and social interaction, a comprehensive new study has found.