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Research by Topic: Autism
This week’s podcast with Dr. Alycia Halladay summarizes some new studies looking at autism traits and autism diagnosis in girls with anorexia nervosa. While the two disorders may seem different at the outset, they do share some behavioral features. Unfortunately, most studies look at autism in those with anorexia, not the other way around. However, […]
As always, good news and bad news in autism this week. First the good news: an intervention given between 9-14 months of age in children with a high probability of having an autism diagnosis improved autism symptoms at 3 years of age. Now the bad: mothers who experience severe childhood abuse are more likely to […]
Last week CNN.com reported on a study that showed slight improvement of autism symptoms in children that received a single infusion of their own umbilical cord blood. While the study was interesting, the authors were the first to acknowledge the limitations; however, this did not stop the media from misrepresenting the results. Details are explained […]
On Thursday, March 30th the Autism Science Foundation held their 4th Annual Day of Learning in NYC. If you were not able to attend and can’t wait for the videos of the talks, this week’s podcast with Dr. Alycia Halladay summarizes what was presented. Click here to listen!
The new study on mortality in people with autism may be overestimating the risk of drowning and suffocation in those with ASD. The study claims a higher rate of drowning and other accidental deaths in people with autism, which is true, but the magnitude of the effect they found was astronomical and misleading given the methodology. […]
Geri Dawson, the president of the International Society for Autism Research, points out how important funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is for families affected with autism. Click here to read.
An op-ed by Dr. Alycia Halladay, Chief Science Officer of the Autism Science Foundation, was published today in Stat News: The publication of Andrew Wakefield’s notorious and now discredited research on autism and vaccines in 1998 triggered a surge of worry about vaccine safety. Since then, questions about a purported connection between autism and vaccines […]
Hear the latest Environmental Epigenetics of Autism Webinar: Dr. Mark Zylka presents recent data from his lab using animal models with genetic modifications to understand how common environmental factors we might be exposed to affect genetic expression. Dr. Valerie Hu from George Washington University comments and provides perspective from her work on a gene involved […]
The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is hosting the “Workshop on Autism Spectrum Disorders” on July 31-August 6, 2017. The course instructors are: James McPartland, Yale University Sergiu Pasca, Stanford University Jeremy Veenstra-Vander Weele, Columbia University The workshop speakers include Alison Singer, President of the Autism Science Foundation, and: Frances Champagne, Columbia University Geraldine Dawson, Duke […]
On Monday, the much anticipated MSSNG study which analyzed the entire DNA sequence of over 5000 people with autism was published. The press release can be found here. In it, the researchers found even more genes of interest to autism. Also, those with more of a specific type of mutation, copy number variations, had worse autism symptoms. […]
The brain is developing even after birth. So interventions that are given very early have the best chance of remolding and rewiring a brain with autism to prevent autism-related disabilities. This week, a group from the University of London, Duke University, and University of Washington measured brain activity during tasks that required social attention following two […]
Podcast: To see differences in the brains of males and females with autism, you have to look at the brains of males and females with autismPublished February 27, 2017
Last month, UC Davis researcher Dr. Cyndi Schumann used resources from the Autism BrainNet to look at what causes differences in the rates of diagnosis between males and females. Consistent with other studies on this topic, males and females do not show differences in the rates of autism genes, but rather in the way that the […]
Researchers studying infants at risk for autism, or baby siblings, have found that the brain changes before symptoms develop. The findings may improve diagnosis and early intervention therapies. Read more about this study in Nature here.
This week two studies which examined infants and younger children that will significantly advance understanding of causes and services for people with autism were published. After a commentary about the confirmation of Betsy DeVos, the study that used a practical methodology to improve autism screening in pediatrics clinic from researchers at Duke University was presented. […]
Individual research studies are great. But even better is when someone takes these studies and puts them together to see if one study shows the same thing another does, and if they do, then is the effect size consistent? Sometimes you can only do this by going old school and pooling the data from the […]
Statement from the board of the International Society for Autism Research: “As an organization, we must think carefully about whether to host future international meetings for autism research in the United States. As an international society, it would be inappropriate to hold the largest annual meeting on autism research in any country that restricts access […]
With hundreds of genes, thousands of environmental factors, and now sex being variables in determining risk for autism, where should science start? Over the decades researchers have been able to start narrowing down the combinations based on specific behaviors of interest, genes, and mechanisms which may narrow down which gene, which environmental factor and which […]
Even though more than 20% of people with autism have little or no language, research into ways to help this group have really been lacking. Several efforts to not just understand the abilities and disabilities of this group started a few years ago and we are just starting to hear about what works and what […]
Today we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who is revered for his contributions to justice, tolerance, equality and service. In this week’s podcast, Dr. Alycia Halladay highlights a Supreme Court case which affects how those with special needs are fighting for justice and equality. Also, over the holidays, Dr. Connor Kerns from […]
Today, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. – who has continued to publicly promote the discredited theory that vaccines cause autism — met with President-Elect Donald Trump in New York City and afterward stated that Mr. Trump has asked him to lead a new commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity. Autism Science Foundation President Alison Singer […]
Over the holiday break, the largest study so far including the most number of countries analyzed the risk of having a Caesarean section and autism. They found a consistent increased risk that wasn’t due to cause of the C-section or the age of the infant (preemie or term). So what is going on? This week’s […]
A summary of autism discoveries in 2016 and what they mean for families By Alycia Halladay, PhD, Chief Science Officer of the Autism Science Foundation and the Scientific Advisory Board of the Autism Science Foundation To listen to our year-end research summary podcast, click here. For decades, the autism community has known that autism affects […]
There is an ongoing debate about why people with autism avoid eye contact. There is data to support both, but as this behavior emerges very early, it’s important to look at data from preverbal children to understand the origins of changes in eye contact. Many scientists also feel that avoiding eye contact snowballs over the […]
A gene that controls electrical activity in the brain, SCN2A, has been linked to autism for awhile. But recently, a new study from China shows that mutations of this gene are seen in about 1% of people with autism. This may put it into the category of the rare mutations that have a major contribution […]
ASF fellow Dr. Donna Werling reviews the evidence around why females with autism are not diagnosed as often. It includes susceptibility in males, resilience in females, hormonal influences, camoflauging and role of IQ. Read more here – it’s open access!
Biomarkers can help distinguish different types of features, but this past week they were used to predict who would respond to Pivotal Response Training, or PRT. Researchers, led by Dr. Pam Ventola at the Yale Child Study Center, looked at how the brain responded to a social or non-social situation as well as baseline features […]
On early Wednesday morning, the United States woke up to the news that the new president was Donald Trump. While he hasn’t taken office yet, this podcast reviews his statement on his website or in his Contract with America, as well as things published or stated by him or his campaign on his website or in […]
Overall, the scientific research examining the efficacy of oxytocin treatment in autism spectrum disorder has been mixed. On a previous podcast, studies on the way the oxytocin receptor was turned on and off were explained, which may account for variability in treatment response. This week, two studies in Japan show that specific mutations in the oxytocin […]
How long do you have to study an intervention to see if it works? Many scientists agree that it isn’t just about what happens in the short run, but if those interventions can be sustained for long periods of time. In the case of very early interventions, it is now clear that treatment for about […]
New blog post by Dr. Alycia Halladay, Chief Science Office of the Autism Science Foundation: You may have seen it. The headline that says, “super-parenting improves children’s autism.” Besides being grammatically incorrect, it’s insulting. The implication, of course, from the headline is that parents who do not have super abilities or super skills can’t help […]
Released on October 25, 2016, a new article in the US News and World Report discusses gender-based differences in autism and the importance of the Autism Science Foundation’s Autism Sisters Project. Click here to read the article and here to watch the video.
While still rare, there are cases where an autism diagnosis is not made until adulthood. Why have these people been missed and what do they need? How did they go for so long without anyone recognizing that they needed help? A new study from the lab of Dr. Francesca Happe in the UK investigates the […]
In addition to risks of anxiety, ADHD, mood disorders and other psychiatric issues, people with autism (and their siblings) show increased risk of substance abuse issues. This information comes from a large Scandinavian registry study that included over 26,000 individuals with ASD. On this week’s podcast Dr. Alycia Halladay Ross discusses what this means for […]
Two studies recently add to an ever-growing body of literature around undiagnosed siblings of individuals with autism. While in autism features there is evidence of the “broader autism phenotype” in female siblings, there is no evidence of elevated sensory symptoms in those with a brother or system with autism. The more we understand about the […]
A new systematic review evaluated and organized existing scientific studies on the question of whether or not there was a relationship between air pollution and autism. After considering strengths and limitations of the body of research, the authors concluded that there is limited evidence between exposure to air pollution as a whole and ASD diagnosis. […]
Released September 15, 2016, this new report on CNN highlights the importance of brain donation and brain tissue research. To learn more about the Autism BrainNet, click here.
PCB’s, or Polychlorinated biphenyls is a group of over 200 different manufactured chemicals which stopped being used decades ago. However, they don’t break down and widespread pollution of these chemicals means that they are still all over the environment and we continue to be exposed to them. This week, Dr. Kristen Lyall from Drexel University showed […]
Recently, the practice of Applied Behavioral Analysis, or ABA, has come under fire in the autism blogosphere for being abusive and manipulative with the purpose of mind control. Instead of defending the practice, or pointing out the factual errors in recent articles, ASF realized the most productive way to address some of the issues is […]
ASF President speaks out in the Wall Street Journal about the roles of parents in autism advocacy Parent-advocates of children with chronic conditions have long worked toward finding cures. Adult self-advocates are shifting the focus to goals of independent work and living. Children with disabilities or chronic medical conditions, including autism and muscular dystrophy, have grown up […]
This week’s podcast is on a topic suggested by listeners- aggressive behaviors in autism. Our summer intern, Priyanka Shah, describes the risk factors and treatments for aggression. Although not a core symptom of autism, aggression can affect the development of social relationships. Studies show that aggression increases stress in parents and teachers more than other […]
In a landmark alliance, known as Project TENDR, leaders of various disciplines have come together in a consensus statement to say that many of the chemicals found in everyday products can result in neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism and attention-deficit disorders. ASF Chief Science Officer Alycia Halladay will be answering questions on a live chat over Facebook […]
The Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research for Knowledge (SPARK) is hosting a 90 minute online webinar on July 7th, 2016 at 1 p.m. EST, discussing challenging behaviors in children with autism. Challenging behaviors can lead to higher stress levels in families, and interfere with a child’s education and social interactions both in school and the community. Dr. Bridget Taylor is the […]
In a new study published JAMA Pediatrics yesterday examined psychiatric records of siblings of people with autism living in Finland. They found the rates of ASD, ADHD, ID, childhood emotional disorders, learning and coordination disorders, conduct and oppositional disorders, and tic disorders, were more frequent among siblings of siblings with ASD. Also, there was an increase in schizophrenia […]
The genetics of autism is complicated. So scientists are taking a new approach. Instead of looking at genes associated with the bigger autism diagnosis, researchers at the University of Miami are considering how genes influence specific autism features present very early on in life. In this week’s podcast, two investigators, Devon Gangi and Nicole McDonald, explore […]
The types of gene mutations that contribute to autism are more diverse than previously thought, report researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine in the March 24 online issue of The American Journal of Human Genetics. The findings, they say, represent a significant advance in efforts to unravel the genetic basis of autism […]
Studies of very early signs of autism has led to better recognition of early signs and driven earlier and earlier interventions. These interventions have improved the lives of people with autism. These early autism symptoms are seen before a diagnosis can be made. Biological signs of autism before a diagnosis could even further improve early intervention. […]
After the domains of social and communication were merged together under ‘social communication’ in the DSM5, understanding what makes up these symptoms is more important than ever. Researchers from Center for Autism and the Developing Brain and UCSF drilled down to distinguish different types of social communication and which were most specific to autism. Using […]
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has signed an agreement to establish a collaborative, nationwide effort for the collection, storage, and distribution of postmortem human brain tissue for the benefit of autism research. The agreement with Foundation Associates LLC will coordinate the efforts of two independent networks of human brain tissue repositories, the National Institutes of Health NeuroBioBank (NBB) and the Autism BrainNet (ABN).
What is the real prevalence of autism? It depends on how you ask the question. But however it is asked, the answer is too high. Additionally, those with autism are entering the educational system where interventions are built in an "ivory tower." Interventions need to be adapted and implemented in real world settings with real […]
If you missed the October 1st webinar on Early Germline (sperm and egg) mutations and the heritability of autism, dont worry, we have it recorded on www.asfpodcast.org. The webinar explored emerging concepts in basic reproductive biology and also the heritability of ASDs. We know that autism is highly heritable, in the sense that ASD risk is higher among siblings, but it’s not shown to be highly “genetic” in the classic sense that these traits or genes are passed from generation to generation.
ASF Board Member Dr. Paul Offit comments on robust new study addressing each of the many ways in which people have thought vaccines could cause autism. Dr. Offit comments, in part: The fear that vaccines cause autism has been a tale of changing hypotheses… The primate study by Gadad et al. addresses all three concerns.”
All are invited to the first in an ongoing series of free online symposia on the environmental epigenetics of autism, Oct. 1st at 1 pm Eastern. Speakers will include cell biologist Amander Clark, of UCLA, and geneticist Ryan Yuen, of Torontos SickKids Hospital.
Jennifer Foss-Feig, PhD at Yale University recently received an accelerator grant to expand her research project to include individuals with autism. Why? She theorizes that the way schizophrenia is classified and conceptualized may be helpful to the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. She recently published these ideas and wrote a blog for the ASF. You can read it here: https://autismsciencefoundation.wordpress.com/2015/08/24/is-it-time-to-rethink-the-symptoms-of-autism-a-commentary-by-jennifer-foss-feig-phd-yale-university/
The US Preventative Services Task Force announces comment period for their draft recommendation. Submit your comments by August 31, 2015 at http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/UpdateSummaryDraft/autism-spectrum-disorder-in-young-children-screening
ASF, Autism Speaks and the American Academy of Pediatrics respond to U.S. Preventive Services Task Force draft recommendations on screening for ASD.Published August 3, 2015
At a time when 1 in 68 children is diagnosed with autism, early identification, diagnosis and treatment is crucial to give children the best opportunity to reach their full potential. The ambiguity of the statement offered by the US Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) on autism screening is troubling and unfortunately, may be easily misinterpreted. While the task force does not explicitly recommend against screening for autism, they state there is insufficient evidence to support autism-specific screening in clinical settings. Instead, they have called for more research in this area.As a result, the task force has failed to fully endorse screening despite an abundance of research that demonstrates it is effective in a variety of settings1-3, leads to earlier identification of autism4, and that this earlier identification provides opportunities for early intervention which improves the lives of children with autism5. Research has demonstrated that formal screening is more effective than relying on clinician judgement alone1,6. This is especially important in reducing racial and ethnic disparities in access to care7,8 Moreover, screening is quick, affordable and has no substantial risk. We intend to review the USPSTF report and its methodology to understand why it differs from other evidence-based recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and from experts in the field of autism spectrum disorders. Every child deserves an early, accurate diagnosis and we are hopeful that after the review period the USPSTF reconsider their conclusions. You can read more about the recommendations and response here.There are a number of world renowned autism researchers who agree with this position. They include:Bryan King, Seattle Childrens HospitalAmi Klin, Emory UniversityDiana Robins, Drexel UniversityCeline Saulnier, Emory UniversityRobins DL. Screening for autism spectrum disorders in primary care settings. Autism : the international journal of research and practice. 2008;12(5):537-556.Miller JS, Gabrielsen T, Villalobos M, et al. The each child study: systematic screening for autism spectrum disorders in a pediatric setting. Pediatrics. 2011;127(5):866-871.Robins DL, Casagrande K, Barton M, Chen CM, Dumont-Mathieu T, Fein D. Validation of the modified checklist for Autism in toddlers, revised with follow-up (M-CHAT-R/F). Pediatrics. 2014;133(1):37-45.Herlihy LE, Brooks B, Dumont-Mathieu T, et al. Standardized screening facilitates timely diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders in a diverse sample of low-risk toddlers. Journal of developmental and behavioral pediatrics : JDBP. 2014;35(2):85-92.Pierce K, Carter C, Weinfeld M, et al. Detecting, studying, and treating autism early: the one-year well-baby check-up approach. The Journal of pediatrics. 2011;159(3):458-465 e451-456.Wetherby AM, Brosnan-Maddox S, Peace V, Newton L. Validation of the Infant-Toddler Checklist as a broadband screener for autism spectrum disorders from 9 to 24 months of age. Autism : the international journal of research and practice. 2008;12(5):487-511.Khowaja MK, Hazzard AP, Robins DL. Sociodemographic Barriers to Early Detection of Autism: Screening and Evaluation Using the M-CHAT, M-CHAT-R, and Follow-Up. Journal of autism and developmental disorders. 2015;45(6):1797-1808.Daniels AM, Halladay AK, Shih A, Elder LM, Dawson G. Approaches to enhancing the early detection of autism spectrum disorders: a systematic review of the literature. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 2014;53(2):141-152.
Dup15, an organization representing families with one of the most common genetic causes of autism, held their annual family and science meeting in Orlando this week. Hear more about the science on the ASF podcast. www.asfpodcast.org
This week on the ASF podcast, we talk to @drdgsmith from Autism Speaks about the new study which turns skin cells into brain cells. It iis fascinating and important, but is not sufficient to study the brains of people with autism. Hear more on www.asfpodcast.org
Veronica Kang, recipient of ASF Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship discusses the results of her honors thesis project and the impact of ASF funding on her career. Read more on the ASF Blog here: https://autismsciencefoundation.wordpress.com/2015/06/30/the-asf-undergraduate-research-fellowships-help-build-autism-researchers/
Dennis Wall, PhD, an autism researcher at the School of Medicine, is leading a new project to establish the largest-ever collaborative, open-access repository of bioinformatic data on autism
Previously understudied, a special issue of the science journal Molecular Autism dedicates space to females with ASD. Leading the list is a summary of the October, 2014 meeting on gender issues co-sponsored by ASF. Download all of the articles free by clicking here http://www.molecularautism.com/series/sexdifferences?utm_campaign=BMC18421C&utm_medium=BMCemail&utm_source=Teradata