Research by Topic: Social Skills

Effects of Risperidone and Parent Training on Adaptive Functioning in Children with Pervasive Developmental Disorders and Serious Behavioral Problems

Published February 8, 2015 in J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry

Children with Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDDs) have social interaction deficits, delayed communication, and repetitive behaviors as well as impairments in adaptive functioning. Many children actually show a decline in adaptive skills compared with age mates over time.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/

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Seaside Therapeutics Discontinues Arbaclofen (STX209) Extension Study

Published May 31, 2013 in The Boston Globe

Seaside Therapeutics has discontinued their extension study of Arbaclofen (STX209), a drug that showed promise in treating social impairment related to Fragile X syndrome.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2013/05/30/cambridge-firm-autism-drug-fails-test-families-upset/mTOjxYyd67TI4jzg19K1iN/story.html

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Brain Responses to Words in 2-Year-Olds with Autism Predict Developmental Outcomes at Age 6

Published May 29, 2013 in PLoS ONE

Researchers have demonstrated that brain responses to words in children with autism at age two may strongly predict cognitive ability, receptive language and adaptive behavior in those children at ages 4 and 6.

www.plosone.org

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DSM-5: The Debate Continues

Published May 15, 2013 in Molecular Autism

The editors of Molecular Autism, Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen and ASF SAB member Dr. Joe Buxbaum, invited the labs of Dr. Cathy Lord and Dr. Fred Volkmar to offer their perspectives on the new DSM-5 criteria for the autism spectrum.Read Dr. Lord’s commentary here: http://www.molecularautism.com/content/pdf/2040-2392-4-12.pdfRead Dr. Volkmar’s commentary here: http://www.molecularautism.com/content/pdf/2040-2392-4-13.pdf

http://www.molecularautism.com/content/pdf/2040-2392-4-11.pdf

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Special Issue on: School-based Research of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Published May 1, 2013 in Autism

Autism Special Issue

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Preschool Based JASPER Intervention in Minimally Verbal Children with Autism: Pilot RCT

Published May 1, 2013 in Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

A recent pilot study linked the JASPER intervention (Joint Attention Symbolic Play Engagement and Regulation) to core deficit improvement in minimally verbal 3 to 5 year olds with autism.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22965298

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Cognitive Enhancement Therapy for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Results of an 18-month Feasibility Study

Published April 26, 2013 in Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

New findings from a small pilot study suggest cognitive enhancement therapy is a feasible and effective intervention for cognitive impairments in verbal adults with ASD. Adult participants were highly satisfied with the therapy and treatment attendance was high, indicating their willingness to participate in and commit to an intervention that they considered useful.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23619953

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Social Participation Among Young Adults with an Autism Spectrum Disorder

Published April 25, 2013 in Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

In an attempt to raise awareness of the unique obstacles faced by young adults with ASD, researchers compared their social experiences with the experiences of young adults who received special education services for intellectual disability, emotional disturbance, or learning disability and found young adults with ASD experienced significantly more social isolation.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23615687

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Cognition and Behavior: ‘Mind blindness’ Has Brain Signature

Published April 13, 2013 in SFARI

Two recent studies have linked mind-blindness to atypical patterns of brain activity in people with ASD.

http://sfari.org/news-and-opinion/in-brief/2013/cognition-and-behavior-mind-blindness-has-brain-signature

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Bridges and Barriers to Successful Transitioning as Perceived by Adolescents and Young Adults With Asperger Syndrome

Published March 28, 2013 in Journal of Pediatric Nursing

This thematic content analysis examined the expectations, and perceived facilitators of and barriers to transition to community as reported by adolescents and young adults with Asperger syndrome.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0882596313000997

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Sleep disruption as a correlate to cognitive and adaptive behavior problems in autism spectrum disorders.

Published March 25, 2013 in PubMed

Results suggested that children who slept fewer hours per night had lower overall intelligence, verbal skills, overall adaptive functioning, daily living skills, socialization skills, and motor development.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22522199

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Social Behaviors Increase in Children with Autism in the Presence of Animals Compared to Toys

Published February 27, 2013 in PLOS One

Children with ASD showed increased positive social behaviors in the presence of guinea pigs compared to toys in this new PLOS One study. Specifically, they showed more social approach behaviors (e.g. talking, looking at faces and making tactile contact) and positive affect (e.g. laughing and smiling), and less self-focused behaviors in the presence of animals.

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0057010

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Use of Social Stories to Improve Self-Regulation in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Published February 26, 2013 in Physical & Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics

Social stories, an intervention used to define a skill, concept or situation in socially appropriate terms, were used to promote self-regulation techniques in a self-contained preschool classroom. While implementation of self-regulation strategies varied among the children, all showed an increase in desired behaviors with the intervention.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23437903

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Letting a Typical Mouse Judge Whether Mouse Social Interactions are Atypical

Published February 21, 2013 in Autism Research

This interesting preliminary study examined whether typical mice could recognize atypical social behavior in ASD mouse models. Wild-type mouse ‘judges’ preferred to be in chambers with other typical mice rather than socially atypical mice, suggesting that typical mice can distinguish mice displaying autism-like behavior from controls.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23436806?dopt=Abstract

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Frequency and Pattern of Documented Diagnostic Features and the Age of Autism Identification

Published February 6, 2013 in Journal of the American Academy of Child & Pediatric Psychiatry

The age at which a child with autism is diagnosed is related to the particular suite of behavioral symptoms he or she exhibits, according to this study led by an ASF Grantee. Certain diagnostic features, including poor nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors, were associated with earlier identification of an autism spectrum disorder. Displaying more behavioral features was also associated with earlier diagnosis.For more information about this study, read the guest blog from the lead author here: http://autismsciencefoundation.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/identifying-asd-in-community-settings/

http://www.jaacap.com/article/S0890-8567(13)00076-2/abstract

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Brief Report: Is Cognitive Rehabilitation Needed in Verbal Adults with Autism? Insights from Initial Enrollment in a Trial of Cognitive Enhancement Therapy

Published February 5, 2013 in Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

Early results from this pilot trial of cognitive enhancement therapy (CET) indicate that despite above-average intelligence, verbal adults with ASD can have significantly impaired neurocognition and social cognition. The authors suggest CET, which is designed to remediate both social and non-social deficits through computer-based neurocognitive training, could be useful for cognitive rehabilitation in this population.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23381484

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Familiarity Breeds Support: Speech-language Pathologists Perceptions of Bullying of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Published January 31, 2013 in Journal of Communication Disorders

According to this study, school-based speech language pathologists may be an untapped resource in the fight against bullying of children with ASD.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0021992413000038

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Decreased Spontaneous Attention to Social Scenes in 6-Month-Old Infants Later Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Published January 14, 2013 in Biological Psychiatry

Yale researchers used eye-tracking technology to examine social monitoring skills of infants at high and low risk for autism. Compared to infants who developed typically, six-month olds later diagnosed with ASD looked less at the social scene, which involved a woman engaged in various activities. When they did attend to the social scene, they spent less time viewing the womans face.

http://www.biologicalpsychiatryjournal.com/article/S0006-3223(12)01030-X/abstract

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Design of a Virtual Reality Based Adaptive Response Technology for Children with Autism

Published January 4, 2013 in IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering

Results from this preliminary study suggest that an interactive virtual reality game can improve social communication skills in teens with ASD.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23033333

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Developmental Meta-Analysis of the Functional Neural Correlates of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Published December 26, 2012 in Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

According to this recent meta-analysis of fMRI studies, autism-related changes in brain activity may continue to develop with age.

http://www.jaacap.com/article/S0890-8567(12)00998-7/abstract

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Jason Ross Discusses Services Needs in the Adult Autistic Community on the ASF Blog

Published December 12, 2012 in ASF Blog

http://autismsciencefoundation.wordpress.com/

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Neural Mechanisms of Improvements in Social Motivation After Pivotal Response Treatment: Two Case Studies

Published October 27, 2012 in Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

Researchers find increased activation to social stimuli in brain regions involved in social perception in two children with ASD after pivotal response treatment (PRT).

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23104615

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Is He Being Bad? Social and Language Brain Networks during Social Judgment in Children with Autism

Published October 17, 2012 in PLOS One

This fMRI study on social judgment supports claims that autistic children may recognize socially inappropriate behavior but find it difficult to express why its inappropriate.

http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0047241

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Interventions Addressing Social Impairment in Autism

Published October 4, 2012 in Current Psychiatry Reports

In this new review of intervention studies targeting social impairment in autism, authors encourage researchers to design new studies that: evaluate ingredients of effective interventions (e.g., required dose for therapeutic effect); include better outcome measures that can show that meaningful improvements have happened (e.g., spontaneous social initiations; sustained interactions); and include underserved and underrepresented participant groups, such as children with comorbidities, non-English speaking children, and minimally verbal children.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23055002

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Early Behavioral Intervention is Associated with Normalized Brain Activity in Young Children with Autism

Published August 31, 2012 in Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

This randomized trial associated ESDM with normalized brain activity and behavioral improvements in young children with ASD.

http://www.jaacap.com/article/S0890-8567(12)00643-0/abstract

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Stanford researchers investigate the emotional side of autism

Published August 14, 2012 in Stanford School of Medicine

Researchers at Stanford University have found that adults with autism spectrum disorders report greater levels of negative emotion in general.

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-08-stanford-emotional-side-autism.html#jCp

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Stanford researchers investigate the emotional side of autism

Published August 14, 2012 in Emotion

Researchers at Stanford University have found that adults with autism spectrum disorders report greater levels of negative emotion in general.

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-08-stanford-emotional-side-autism.html#jCp

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Pets May Help Kids With Autism

Published August 1, 2012 in WebMD.com

Researchers in France found that children with autism who became pet owners after the age of 5 performed better than children without pets on two key measures of social functioning — offering comfort and offering to share. Having a pet from birth did not appear to influence the socialization behaviors, leading the researchers to conclude that the arrival of a pet when a child is old enough to recognize the addition may be critical.

http://pets.webmd.com/news/20120801/pets-may-help-kids-with-autism

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Family History of Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder as Risk Factors for Autism

Published July 2, 2012 in Archives of General Psychiatry

Researchers discuss the association between schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and ASD, and suggest the conditions share etiologic factors. Family history of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder was associated with increased ASD risk across three data sets. Individuals with schizophrenic siblings were 12 times more likely to have autism compared to those with no family history of schizophrenia.

http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1206780

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Researchers at UCLA Found that Social Skills Interventions in Teens with Autism Resulted in Significant Long-Term Improvements

Published June 14, 2012 in http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/246528.php

Researchers at UCLA found that social skills interventions in teens with autism resulted in significant long-term improvements.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/246528.php

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Study from Children’s Hospital Boston Finds Atypical Processing of Emotional Faces in ASD

Published June 1, 2012 in Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

New study using eye-tracking and event-related potentials from Children’s Hospital Boston found that individuals with ASD showed atypical emotional face processing and reduced brain activation in response to emotions.

http://www.springerlink.com/content/p1351551m6128607/

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Vanderbilt University Study Measures Attention to Changing Facial Features in High-Risk Infants

Published June 1, 2012 in Autism Research

Study from Vanderbilt University uses eye-tracking and visual event-related potentials to measure attention to changing facial features in infants at high-risk for developing autism.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22674669.1

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Study from UCSB Examines Teaching Initiations in Social Intervention Programs for School Children with Autism

Published May 29, 2012 in http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22645399

A new study from UC Santa Barbara found that teaching initiations in social intervention programs improved social engagement for school children with autism.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22645399

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Study from University of South Australia Found that Individuals with ASD had Impairments in Face Processing and Acquiring Familiar Representations

Published May 24, 2012 in http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22643237

A new study from the University of South Australia and the University of Cambridge found that individuals with ASD had impairments in processing faces and acquiring new face representations for familiarity.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22643237

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Many with Autism Lack Work Experience

Published May 14, 2012 in Chicago Sun-Times

One in three young adults with autism has no paid job experience, college, or technical schooling nearly seven years after high school graduation, a new study finds.

Many with Autism Lack Work Experience

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Agent Reduces Autism-like Behaviors in Mice

Published April 26, 2012 in NIMH

National Institutes of Health researchers have reversed behaviors in mice resembling two of the three core symptoms of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). An experimental compound, called GRN-529, increased social interactions and lessened repetitive self-grooming behavior in a strain of mice that normally display such autism-like behaviors, the researchers say.

Agent Reduces Autism-like Behaviors in Mice

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Atypical Brain Activation Patterns During a Face-to-Face Joint Attention Game in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Published April 16, 2012 in Human Brain Mapping

Researchers used fMRI while participants played a joint-attention game to better understand the neural correlates of joint attention.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22505330

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New Data Show Children With Autism Bullied Three Times More Frequently Than Their Unaffected Siblings

Published March 26, 2012 in MarketWatch

Today, the Interactive Autism Network (IAN), www.ianproject.org , the nation’s largest online autism research initiative and a project of the Kennedy Krieger Institute, reports preliminary results of the first national survey to examine the impact of bullying on children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The results show that 63 percent of children with ASD have been bullied at some point in their lives. These children, who are sometimes intentionally “triggered” into meltdowns or aggressive outbursts by peers, are bullied three times more frequently than their siblings who do not have ASD.

New Data Show Children With Autism Bullied Three Times More Frequently Than Their Unaffected Siblings

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Understanding Why Autistic People May Reject Social Touch

Published March 20, 2012 in Time Magazine

Now, a new study offers insight into why some people shrug off physical touches and how families affected by autism may learn to share hugs without overwhelming an autistic childs senses.

Understanding Why Autistic People May Reject Social Touch

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For Children With Autism, Variability In Successful Social Strategies Revealed By Eye-Tracking

Published March 5, 2012 in Medical News Today

Katherine Rice and colleagues, from the Marcus Autism Center, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and Emory University School of Medicine, used eye-tracking technology to measure the relationship between cognitive and social disability in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and the ability of children with ASD to pay attention to social interactions.

For Children With Autism, Variability In Successful Social Strategies Revealed By Eye-Tracking

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Training Parents Is Good Medicine for Children With Autism Behavior Problems, Study Suggests

Published February 24, 2012 in Science Daily

Children with autism spectrum disorders who also have serious behavioral problems responded better to medication combined with training for their parents than to treatment with medication alone, Yale researchers and their colleagues report in the February issue of Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

Training Parents Is Good Medicine for Children With Autism Behavior Problems, Study Suggests

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In the Brain, Signs of Autism as Early as 6 Months Old

Published January 30, 2012 in Science Daily

Measuring brain activity in infants as young as six months may help to predict the future development of autism symptoms.

In the Brain, Signs of Autism as Early as 6 Months Old

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New Report Examines Autism Needs for Patients and Families in Pennsylvania

Published January 28, 2012 in Health News

Results were released yesterday from the Pennsylvania Autism Needs Assessment, which includes feedback from 3,500 Pennsylvania caregivers and adults with autism, making it the largest study of its kind in the nation.

New Report Examines Autism Needs for Patients and Families in Pennsylvania

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Adolescents with Autism Spend Free Time Using Solitary, Screen-based Media

Published January 25, 2012 in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) tend to be fascinated by screen-based technology. A new study by a University of Missouri researcher found that adolescents with autism spend the majority of their free time using non-social media, including television and video-games.

Adolescents with autism spend free time using solitary, screen-based media

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Researchers Use Workshops To Teach Job Skills And Learn More About Families With Children On The Autism Spectrum

Published January 11, 2012 in Medical News Today

Researchers at the University of Utah have created a program that helps kids with autism focus on building their skills and utilizing an aptitude for visual-spatial thinking, computers and other electronic media.

Researchers Use Workshops To Teach Job Skills And Learn More About Families With Children On The Autism Spectrum

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Exploring the Social Impact of Being a Typical Peer Model for Included Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Published January 4, 2012 in Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

Peer-mediated treatments are considered best practice in improving social skills in children with ASD, but parents and school staff have voiced concerns about the social outcomes of typically developing students who serve as models for their autistic peers. This study addresses these concerns, showing that typically developing children maintain stable and positive social status after acting as peer buddies in a social skills intervention for children with ASD.

http://www.springerlink.com/content/m8370v1t128247r4/

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New MIT center to fund autism research

Published December 15, 2011 in The Boston Globe

A new center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will focus on unraveling the neuroscience behind social behaviors, helping to push forward research and, the scientists hope, to advance diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders.

New MIT center to fund autism research

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Trained Peers Better at Aiding Autistic Kids with Social Skills

Published December 1, 2011 in PsychCentral

A new study suggests training peers can help children with autism spectrum disorder improve their social skills, even more than a direct adult-led intervention.

Trained Peers Better at Aiding Autistic Kids with Social Skills

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Researchers debut SHANK2 mouse, SHANK3 rat

Published November 15, 2011 in SFARI

Researchers debut the SHANK2 mouse and SHANK3 rat at the 2011 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting. SHANK2 belongs to the same family as SHANK3, a well-established autism candidate gene.

Click to read the article

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Autistic Brains Grow More Slowly

Published October 20, 2011 in Psych Central

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…

Article

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The Accuracy Of Autism Diagnosis In Children With Down Syndrome Validated By New Findings

Published October 6, 2011 in Medical News Today

New findings from a 16-year study confirm that the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the gold-standard for the classification of mental health conditions, can be used to accurately identify autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in children with Down syndrome, according to research from Kennedy Krieger Institute.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/235508.php

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Children With Autism Benefit from Early, Intensive Therapy

Published September 28, 2011 in Science Daily

A primary characteristic of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is impairments in social-communication skills. Children and adolescents with social-communication problems face difficulty understanding, interacting and relating with others. University of Missouri researchers found that children who receive more intensive therapy to combat these impairments, especially at early ages, achieve the best outcomes.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110928125418.htm

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Infants Given A Social Jump Start By Early Motor Experiences: Study Indicates Infants At Risk For Autism Could Benefit From Motor Training

Published September 12, 2011 in Medical News Today

In a new study published in the journal Developmental Science (Epub ahead of print), researchers from the Kennedy Krieger Institute and Vanderbilt University found that early motor experiences can shape infants’ preferences for objects and faces. The study findings demonstrate that providing infants with “sticky mittens” to manipulate toys increases their subsequent interest in faces, suggesting advanced social development. This study supports a growing body of evidence that early motor development and self-produced motor experiences contribute to infants’ understanding of the social world around them. Conversely, this implies that when motor skills are delayed or impaired – as in autism – future social interactions and development could be negatively impacted.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/234222.php

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Early motor experiences can shape infants’ preferences for objects and faces

Published September 9, 2011 in News Medical

In a new study published today in the journal Developmental Science, researchers from the Kennedy Krieger Institute and Vanderbilt University found that early motor experiences can shape infants’ preferences for objects and faces. The study findings demonstrate that providing infants with “sticky mittens” to manipulate toys increases their subsequent interest in faces, suggesting advanced social development.This study supports a growing body of evidence that early motor development and self-produced motor experiences contribute to infants’ understanding of the social world around them. Conversely, this implies that when motor skills are delayed or impaired – as in autism – future social interactions and development could be negatively impacted.

http://www.news-medical.net/news/20110909/Study-Early-motor-experiences-can-shape-infants-preferences-for-objects-and-faces.aspx

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Prevalence and Correlates of Autism in a State Psychiatric Hospital

Published August 24, 2011 in Left Brain - Right Brian

This study estimated the ASD prevalence in a psychiatric hospital and evaluated the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS) combined with other information for differential diagnosis. Chart review, SRS and clinical interviews were collected for 141 patients at one hospital. Diagnosis was determined at case conference. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were used to evaluate the SRS as a screening instrument. Chi-squared Automatic Interaction Detector (CHAID) analysis estimated the role of other variables, in combination with the SRS, in separating cases and non-cases. Ten percent of the sample had ASD. More than other patients, their onset was prior to 12 years of age, they had gait problems and intellectual disability, and were less likely to have a history of criminal involvement or substance abuse. Sensitivity (0.86) and specificity (0.60) of the SRS were maximized at a score of 84. Adding age of onset

http://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2011/08/prevalence-and-correlates-of-autism-in-a-state-psychiatric-hospital/

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Scientists Reveal That Seeing Eye To Eye Is Key To Copying, With Implications For Autism Research

Published August 18, 2011 in Medical News Today

In a study published this week in the Journal of Neuroscience, a team of scientists from the University’s School of Psychology show that eye contact seems to act as an invitation for mimicry, triggering mechanisms in the frontal region of the brain that control imitation. The results could be the first clues to understanding why some people, such as children with autism, struggle to grasp when they are expected to copy the actions of others in social situations.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/232874.php

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Review from Yale Examines the Role of Biological Motion Processing in Autism

Published May 27, 2011 in http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22682727.1

Review from Yale examines the role of biological motion processing in autism.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22682727.1

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Atypical Neural Networks for Social Orienting in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Published May 1, 2011 in Neuroimage, Greene et al.

Researchers at UCLA used fMRI to examine the neural mechanisms involved in social interactions in autism spectrum disorders in order to provide insight into the social attention impairments that characterize the disorder. Researchers examined children and adolescents with ASD with social and nonsocial cues. Data revealed that in typically developing individuals, there was greater responsiveness […]

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21334443

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Social Bonding in Prairie Voles Helps Guide Search for Autism Treatments

Published April 28, 2011 in Emory Woodruff Health Sciences Center

Researchers at the Center for Translational Social Neuroscience (CTSN) at Emory University are focusing on prairie voles as a new model to screen the effectiveness of drugs to treat autism. They are starting with D-cycloserine, a drug Emory researchers have shown enhances behavioral therapy for phobias and also promotes pair bonding among prairie voles. Giving female voles D-cycloserine, which is thought to facilitate learning and memory, can encourage them to bond with a new male more quickly than usual.

http://shared.web.emory.edu/whsc/news/releases/2011/04/social-bonding-in-prairie-voles-helps-guide-search-for-autism-treatments.html

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Gene Linked to Severity of Autism’s Social Dysfunction Identified

Published April 7, 2011 in Science Daily

With the help of two sets of brothers with autism, Johns Hopkins scientists have identified a gene associated with autism that appears to be linked very specifically to the severity of social interaction deficits. The gene, GRIP1 (glutamate receptor interacting protein 1), is a blueprint for a traffic-directing protein at synapses — those specialized contact points between brain cells across which chemical signals flow.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110406123019.htm

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Misreading Faces Tied to Child Social Anxiety

Published April 1, 2011 in Medical News Today

Children suffering from extreme social anxiety are trapped in a nightmare of misinterpreted facial expressions: They confuse angry faces with sad ones, a new study shows.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/220974.php

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A Systematic Review of Secretin for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Published April 1, 2011 in Pediatrics

Krishnaswami et al. Researchers at Vanderbilt University found that secretin, a medical treatment for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) that was popularized in the 1990s, is ineffective in the treatment of ASDs. Evidence from seven randomized controlled trials suggests that secretin does not effectively treat the symptoms of ASDs, which include language and communication impairment, symptom […]

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/127/5/e1322.abstract?etoc

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Catching Autism Symptoms Early to Enable Effective Preventative Interventions Through Play

Published March 23, 2011 in Medical News Today

Toddlers who played with a limited number of toys showed more improvement in their communication skills following parent-guided treatment than those receiving other community-based treatments.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/219815.php

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Virtual Conversation Simulator Found Beneficial for Adults with Autism

Published March 20, 2011 in Science Daily

Simulated interactions in which adults with autism converse with a virtual partner may help them develop better social interaction skills, according to a novel study presented in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110317131049.htm

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Interactive Game Helps Autistic Children Recognize Emotions

Published March 3, 2011 in Medical News Today

Children with autism spectrum disorders are better able to recognize faces, facial expressions and emotions with the help of an interactive computer program called FaceSay, according to newly published research from psychologists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/218013.php

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Shank3 Mutant Mice Display Autistic-like Behaviors and Striatal Dysfunction

Published March 1, 2011

Currently, the neurological basis of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) is poorly understood. “Shank3 is a postsynaptic protein, whose disruption at the genetic level is thought to be responsible for the development of 22q13 deletion syndrome (Phelan-McDermid syndrome) and other non-syndromic ASDs”. In this study, mice with the Shank3 deletion were seen to exhibit “self-injurious repetitive […]

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v472/n7344/full/nature09965.html

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Serotonin Plays Role in Many Autism Cases, Studies Confirm

Published February 24, 2011 in Science Daily

Georgianna Gould, Ph.D., research assistant professor of physiology in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, is eyeing the role that serotonin plays in autism spectrum disorders. Serotonin is known for giving a sense of well-being and happiness. It is a neurotransmitter, a chemical that acts like a radio tower in the brain conveying signals among cells called neurons. Thirty percent of autism cases may have a serotonin component. In a recent paper in the Journal of Neurochemistry, Dr. Gould and colleagues showed that a medication called buspirone improved the social behaviors of mice. Buspirone is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in adults as an anti-anxiety and antidepressant adjuvant medication.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110224121940.htm

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Virtual Desktop Program Helps Connect The Autism Spectrum

Published February 13, 2011 in Medical News Today

Touchstone Behavioral Health, a Phoenix-based treatment center that specializes in working with children has developed a virtual program that gives patients remote access to specialized autism treatment tools and allows therapists and patients to continue developing real-world life skills outside of traditional clinical environments.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/216306.php

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Understanding the Autistic Mind

Published February 1, 2011 in Medical News Today

A study from MIT neuroscientists reveals that high-functioning autistic adults appear to have trouble using theory of mind to make moral judgments in certain situations. Specifically, the researchers found that autistic adults were more likely than non-autistic subjects to blame someone for accidentally causing harm to another person. This shows that their judgments rely more on the outcome of the incident than on an understanding of the person’s intentions, says Liane Young, an MIT postdoctoral associate and one of the lead authors of the study.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/215115.php

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Intervention Targeting Development of Socially Synchronous Engagement in Toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Published January 1, 2011 in Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry

Two-year-olds with ASD showed improved social skills after completing an intervention targeting core social deficits in autism. It is the first randomized controlled trial to test such an intervention in toddlers and gives promise that a supplementary curriculum could improve social and communication skills in very young children. The researchers randomly assigned 50 toddlers with […]

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21126245

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Toddlers With Autism Show Improved Social Skills Following Targeted Intervention

Published December 9, 2010 in Science Daily

Targeting the core social deficits of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in early intervention programs yielded sustained improvements in social and communication skills even in very young children who have ASD, according to a study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101208125755.htm

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Autism Treatment: Researchers Identify Possible Treatment for Impaired Sociability

Published December 8, 2010 in Science Daily

Eastern Virginia Medical School researchers have identified a potential novel treatment strategy for the social impairment of people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), an aspect of the condition that has a profound impact on quality of life.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101208151619.htm

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Changes in Prefrontal Axons May Disrupt the Network in Autism

Published December 1, 2010 in Journal of Neuroscience, Zikopoulos and Barbas

A post-mortem investigation measuring features of the different axons traveling beneath the cortical surface. The crux of the study is whether in autism there are changes in axons, "which are the conduit for neural communication." In comparison to control samples, autism brain tissue had fewer large axons connecting regions of the prefrontal cortex to the […]

http://www.jneurosci.org/cgi/content/abstract/30/44/14595

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New Approach Finds Success In Teaching Youth With Autism

Published November 22, 2010 in Medical News Today

As the number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders continues to increase, the one thing that won't change is the need for those children to develop social skills. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri are developing an effective social competence curriculum, with a virtual classroom component, that could help educators meet the demand […]

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/208821.php

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New Finding Provides Insight Into The Psychology Of Autism-Spectrum Disorders

Published October 12, 2010 in Medical News Today

Researchers from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have isolated a very specific difference in how high-functioning people with autism think about other people, finding that – in actuality – they don’t tend to think about what others think of them at all.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/235835.php

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Minocycline Promising in Fragile X Syndrome

Published September 7, 2010 in Medscape Today

Parents of children with fragile X syndrome report that minocycline led to positive improvements in language, attention levels and behavior. They also report experiencing adverse side effects such as mild gastrointestinal issues and some increased irritability.

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/728141?src=emailthis

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Infants Gaze May Be an Early, but Subtle, Marker for Autism Risk

Published September 1, 2010 in Science Daily

Kennedy Krieger Institute have announced new study results showing an early marker for later communication and social delays in infants at a higher-risk for autism may be infrequent gazing at other people when unprompted. The study also found that six-month-old high-risk infants demonstrated the same level of cause and effect learning skills when compared to low-risk infants of the same age.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100901111628.htm

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Language as a Window into Sociability

Published August 13, 2010 in Science Daily

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.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100816095806.htm

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Kids with Autism Not Helped by Parent Training Alone

Published May 20, 2010 in Web MD

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.

http://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/news/20100520/kids-autism-not-helped-by-parent-training-alone

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First Direct Recording Made of Mirror Neurons in Human Brain

Published April 13, 2010 in Science Daily

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.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100412162112.htm

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Intensive Treatment Found To Be Highly Effective

Published April 6, 2010 in Newswise

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.

http://www.newswise.com/articles/intensive-treatment-found-to-be-highly-effective-for-children-with-asperger-s-and-high-functioning-autism

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Oxytocin Improves Social Behavior of Patients, French Study Finds

Published February 17, 2010 in Science Daily

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.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100216221350.htm

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Cartoon Trains Teach Autistic Children About Emotions

Published January 7, 2010 in The Sydney Morning Herald

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.

http://www.smh.com.au/national/cartoon-trains-teach-autistic-children-about-emotions-20100106-ludl.html

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Those Kids

Published December 15, 2009 in Huffington Post

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

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/liane-kupferberg-carter/emthose-kidsem_b_392499.html

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How the Autistic Brain Distinguishes Oneself from Others

Published December 14, 2009 in Science Daily

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.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091213214104.htm

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

Published December 4, 2009 in ABC News

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.

http://www.abcnews.go.com/GMA/HealthyLiving/autism-research-benefit-studying-babies-facial-recognition-experts/story?id=9244817

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Early Intervention for Toddlers With Autism Highly Effective, Study Finds

Published November 30, 2009 in Science Daily

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.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091130084720.htm

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Two-year-olds with autism orient to non-social contingencies rather than biological motion

Published March 1, 2009 in Nature, Klin, Lin, Gorrindo, Ramsay, Jones

Typically developing human infants preferentially attend to biological motion within the first days of life. This ability is highly conserved across species and is believed to be critical for filial attachment and for detection of predators. The neural underpinnings of biological motion perception are overlapping with brain regions involved in perception of basic social signals […]

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nature07868.html

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Absence of Preferential Looking to the Eyes of Approaching Adults Predicts Level of Social Disability in 2-year old toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Published December 31, 1969 in Archives of General Psychiatry, Jones, Carr, et al

Looking at the eyes of others is important in early social development and in social adaptation throughout one's life span. Our results indicate that in 2-year-old children with autism, this behavior is already derailed, suggesting critical consequences for development but also offering a potential biomarker for quantifying syndrome manifestation at this early age.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18678799

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Stereotypes and Hyperactivity in Rhesus Monkeys Exposed to IgG from Mothers of Children with Autism

Published December 31, 1969 in Brain Behavior Immunology, Martin, Ashwood, Braunschweig, Cabanlit, Van de Water, Amaral

One proposed cause of ASD is exposure of the fetal brain to maternal autoantibodies during pregnancy [Dalton, P., Deacon, R., Blamire, A., Pike, M., McKinlay, I., Stein, J., Styles, P., Vincent, A., 2003. Maternal neuronal antibodies associated with autism and a language disorder. Ann. Neurol. 53, 533-537]. To provide evidence for this hypothesis, four rhesus […]

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18262386

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