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Association Between Behavioral Features and Gastrointestinal Problems Among Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Source: 
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders - Maenner, M.J. et al.
Date Published: 
October 25, 2011
Year Published: 
2011

Recent reports suggest certain behaviors among children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) may indicate underlying gastro-intestinal (GI) problems, and that the presence of these behaviors may help alert primary care providers to the need to evaluate a child with ASD for GI problems. The purpose of this population-based study of 487 children with ASD, including 35 (7.2%) with a medically documented history of GI problems, was to compare behavioral features of children with and without a history of GI problems. Unusual sleeping or eating habits and oppositional behavior were significantly associated with GI problems. These behaviors, however, were frequent in both children with and without GI problems, suggesting they may have limited utility in a screening capacity for GI problems.

Rockland County Autism Symposium Focuses on Research, Job Skills and Interventions

Abstract: 

Over 900 parents, teachers and other stakeholders gathered for a day of learning at the Rockland County Autism Symposium, sponsored by the Autism Science Foundation, Mindworks, Camp Venture, and the Rockland County Legislature. Dr. Temple Grandin gave the keynote address, describing how to turn a child's strengths into marketable job skills. Dr. Manny DiCicco-Bloom spoke about the importance of mouse modeling in autism science and Dr. Cathy Lord described new research taking place at the New York Brain Institute in White Plains. Dr. Peter Gerhardt and Gina Zecchin-Tirri described how to use ABA techniques to teach life and community skills. Photos from the event are on our Facebook page.

Over 900 parents, teachers and other stakeholders gathered for a day of learning at the Rockland County Autism Symposium, sponsored by the Autism Science Foundation, Mindworks, Camp Venture, and the Rockland County Legislature. Dr. Temple Grandin gave the keynote address, describing how to turn a child's strengths into marketable job skills. Dr. Manny DiCicco-Bloom (view his slides here) spoke about the importance of mouse modeling in autism science and Dr. Cathy Lord described new research taking place at the New York Brain Institute in White Plains. Dr. Peter Gerhardt and Gina Zecchin-Tirri described how to use ABA techniques to teach life and community skills. Photos from the event are on our Facebook page.

 

Click here to view Dr. DiCicco-Bloom's Rockland Autism Symposium slides.

Dr. David Mandell Evaluates Effectiveness of Autism Insurance Legislation (Part 2/2)

Date Published: 
October 25, 2011
Year Published: 
2011
Abstract: 

In part 2 of his interview, Dr. Mandell discusses his research on how to organize, finance and deliver services to enhance outcomes for children with autism. Dr. Mandell discusses his work in assessing public and private insurance companies, the impetus for the autism mandate in Pennsylvania, and how the mandate is affecting families.

ASF-funded study: JADD – “Challenging behaviors frequent in autistic children with and without GI problems; therefore behaviors are unlikely to predict GI problems in children with ASD”—Maenner et al.

Source: 
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Date Published: 
October 25, 2011

Association Between Behavioral Features and Gastrointestinal Problems Among Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Matthew J. Maenner • Carrie L. Arneson • Susan E. Levy • Russell S. Kirby • Joyce S. Nicholas • Maureen S. Durkin
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders | DOI 10.1007/s10803-011-1379-6

Copyright: Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011
 

Abstract : Recent reports suggest certain behaviors among children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) may indicate underlying gastro-intestinal (GI) problems, and that the presence of these behaviors may help alert primary care providers to the need to evaluate a child with ASD for GI problems. The purpose of this population-based study of 487 children with ASD, including 35 (7.2%) with a medically documented history of GI problems, was to compare behavioral features of children with and without a history of GI problems. Unusual sleeping or eating habits and oppositional behavior were significantly associated with GI problems. These behaviors, however, were frequent in both children with and without GI problems, suggesting they may have limited utility in a screening capacity for GI problems.

 

Conclusion: Certain behaviors, including abnormalities in sleep patterns, abnormalities in mood or affect, and argumentative, oppositional, defiant or destructive behavior were described significantly more often in children with ASD who also had GI problems than in those with ASD and no history of GI problems. These features (often described as characteristics of autism) may be more common among children with autism who also have GI problems. However, because these behaviors are also frequent in children with ASD and no GI problems (nearly all children had 1 or more behaviors), they are unlikely to efficiently predict GI problems in children with ASD. Consideration of medical, biological, or physiological co-occurring conditions, genetic susceptibility, diet and nutrition, and medication use are necessary to determine whether in children with ASD both behavioral presentation and GI problems might be associated with other underlying factors.

 

Scarsdale High School Autism Science Foundation Student Club Bake Sale a Sweet Success!

Abstract: 

On Sunday, October 23, the Scarsdale High School Autism Science Foundation Student Club held a Halloween-themed bake sale. The group raised awareness about autism, as well as $480 to support much needed research on what causes autism and how best to treat it. 1 in 110 individuals is now diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. These students are leading the way in creating a more compassionate community for individuals with autism.

Pictured: (l-r) Jackie Sharlach, Lauren Alin, Alexandra Levine, Claire D'Silva, Adam Rolison, Rachel Kushnick, and Andrea Quartner

On Sunday, October 23, the Scarsdale High School Autism Science Foundation Student Club held a Halloween-themed bake sale. The group raised awareness about autism, as well as $480 to support much needed research on what causes autism and how best to treat it. 1 in 110 individuals is now diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. These students are leading the way in creating a more compassionate community for individuals with autism. 

Pictured: (l-r) Jackie Sharlach, Lauren Alin, Alexandra Levine, Claire D'Silva, Adam Rolison, Rachel Kushnick, and Andrea Quartner

 

Video: Dr. David Mandell Moves Autism Research Out of the Lab, Into the Classroom (Part 1/2)

Date Published: 
October 24, 2011
Year Published: 
2011
Abstract: 

Dr. David Mandell of the Center for Autism Research (CAR) and the Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania (CHOP) studies how to implement evidenced based programs in real life settings. His Strategies for Teaching based on Autism Research (STAR) program is being tested in Philadelphia public school classrooms, with much broader implications for children and adults alike.

 

University of Missouri researchers have found distinct differences between the facial characteristics of children with autism compared to those of typically developing children.

Source: 
Medical News Today
Date Published: 
October 22, 2011
Abstract: 

The face and brain develop in coordination, with each influencing the other, beginning in the embryo and continuing through adolescence. Now, University of Missouri researchers have found distinct differences between the facial characteristics of children with autism compared to those of typically developing children...

Interview: Dr. Dan Geschwind Elected to Institute of Medicine

Date Published: 
October 21, 2011
Year Published: 
2011
Abstract: 

Earlier this week, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) at the Academy of Natural Sciences announced the election ASF founding board member Dr. Paul Offit and distinguished autism researcher, Dr. Daniel H Geschwind. ASF’s Jonathan Carter spoke to Dr. Geschwind about his election:

Earlier this week, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) at the Academy of Natural Sciences  announced the election of 65 new members from throughout the United States, in recognition of their major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care and public health.  Among those elected were ASF founding board member Dr. Paul Offit and distinguished autism researcher, Dr. Daniel H Geschwind.  Dr. Geschwind is the Gordon and Virginia MacDonald Distinguished Chair in Human Genetics and professor of neurology and psychiatry, department of neurology, University of California, Los Angeles.  He has been involved in autism research for about 10 years and focuses on gene discovery and autism therapeutics.  Last year Dr. Geschwind served as the program committee chair for the International Meeting for Autism Research.

ASF’s Jonathan Carter spoke to Dr. Geschwind about his election:

 

Jonathan Carter: Congratulations! How does it feel to be a member of the IOM?

Dr. Dan Geschwind: It’s very nice to get such an honor. In the end the greatest satisfaction is in the work and the deep satisfaction one attains from making scientific progress.

 

J: What will be your areas of focus? Can you tell us about the committees and boards that you plan to join?

G: The IOM is recognition of one’s contributions and an honor. But, because the IOM does work related to public policy and the future of medical care, election to the IOM also carries the expectation of involvement and service. The committees are done on a volunteer basis.

My participation will also be focused on neurologic and psychiatric disorders, especially neurodevelopmental disorders, and I will try to improve care and access and the quality of care for people with disorders. I would also like to get involved in the scientific issues surrounding genetics. For example, going forward in the future, possibly by next year, the cost of genomes may soon fall to $1,000. One can predict that as a clinical test, when you walk into the hospital or when you’re born, everybody will have their genome sequenced. That’s just the first step in an individual’s medical workup and personalized medicine.

Right now we can’t interpret most of the genome, but once we have large swaths of the population sequenced, we will be able to correlate genetic variation with various reactions to medicine, what therapy people should be on, especially for common diseases. And that’s an area where perhaps I can contribute as an IOM member; I know how to interpret genome data and its value – its scientific value, medical value and value for development of molecular biomarkers.

The IOM has working groups that get formed around specific issues, and I am also particularly interested in -- as a doctor and a citizen -- how expensive our healthcare is and how little in a relative sense our country gets for all it spends on health care. There are a lot of people with much stronger qualifications than I have in the area of health services delivery. And even though I can’t presume to have any formal expertise in that area, I definitely have an interest in it, as it represents one of the most important issues facing our society.

I assume that most of what is accomplished by the IOM is done in between the meetings, in subgroups. Having a body like the IOM where you can pull in 10 experts from a variety of disciplines to tackle important policy and scientific problems is wonderful. It’s an amazing advantage for our country to have what could be thought of as a virtual academy for problem solving.

 

J: What are the goals of the Geschwind Lab at UCLA?

G: There are short-term and long-term goals. There are short-term goals that have to do with gene discovery. We want to identify genes that cause and contribute to autism. We also want to understand what their mechanism is so that we can develop therapeutics. There’s enough genetic information out there now that we can start the process of developing therapy. So it’s a very exciting time.

Once you find genes, you have to figure out how they cause the disorder. Once you figure that out, you develop models for drug testing. We have been working a lot at the interface between the mechanism of the genes and how they might cause the disorder. Then, we create models that address how to develop more efficacious, hopefully, game changing drugs. So, the development of animal and cell culture models is paramount.

 

J: What can you tell us about the CNTNAP2 Gene?

G: What’s interesting about that gene, like several others, is that is it unlikely to be specific for autism, but certainly is a major player in ASD. Both common and rare variation in that gene increase risk for autism, so it has evidence from several different avenues that support its relevance to autism.

 

J: Your lab also does work on neurodegenerative diseases [like dementia]. How does that work relate to autism?

G: Working on both ends of the aging spectrum, it’s amazing how many commonalities we have found between early neurodevelopmental events and later neuro-degenerative disease. The work that we do in autism absolutely informs the work in dementia and vice versa. There are genomic and computational methods that apply to both of them and actually doing both of those things makes the laboratory a more fertile environment. It’s a wonderful opportunity to work on both neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disease and it makes us more effective.

_________

Established in 1970 by the Academy of Natural Sciences, the IOM honors professional achievements in the health sciences and serves as a national resource for independent analysis and recommendations on issues related to medicine, biomedical sciences, and health. Current members of the Institute elect new members from a slate of candidates nominated for their professional achievement.

 

 

 

 

Autistic Brains Grow More Slowly

Source: 
Psych Central
Date Published: 
October 20, 2011
Abstract: 

UCLA researchers have found the connections between brain regions that are important for language and social skills grow much more slowly in boys with autism than in non-autistic children...

UCLA researchers have found the connections between brain regions that are important for language and social skills grow much more slowly in boys withautism than in non-autistic children.

Having A Child With Autism Linked To Genetic Variant And Autoantibodies: Finding May Lead To Screening Test

Source: 
Medical News Today
Date Published: 
October 20, 2011
Abstract: 

A study by researchers at UC Davis has found that pregnant women with a particular gene variation are more likely to produce autoantibodies to the brains of their developing fetuses and that the children of these mothers are at greater risk of later being diagnosed with autism.