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Research by Topic: Treatment
Listen to this week’s podcast which describes the new Autism Centers for Excellence awards from the NIH and how they will affect the lives of people with ASD.
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 […]
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 […]
Previous studies have shown an improvement in ASD related behaviors following administration of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation which have all failed to reach statistical significance. There has also bee conflicting data on the potential therapeutic effects of omega-3 fatty acids in ASD and unanswered questions about the timing of treatment. However a recent study published in Molecular Autism utilizing a randomized controlled trial design in preschool children reported no improvements in behavior, in fact, the omega-3 treatment group showed some worsening in externalizing behaviors over the study.
Risperidone, the first drug approved for children with autism and the most widely used, improves some childrens behavior but can have severe side effects, suggests an informal analysis of the drugs use. These side effects can include weight gain, drowsiness, hormonal changes and, in rare cases, involuntary movements.
Next February, researchers plan to begin work on a $1.2 million project that aims to link specialized psychiatric units across the U.S. to investigate the most severe and challenging autism cases. The study will include the six largest of the nine specialized psychiatric hospital programs for autism in the U.S. About 1,000 individuals with autism, aged 4 to 20, typically spend between 20 and 25 days at a time in these programs. We think this is an area we can contribute [to], says lead investigator Matthew Siegel, medical director of the developmental disorders program of Spring Harbor Hospital in Maine. If not us, who? We have the expert clinicians and see hundreds of these kids.
A new study conducted by the Yale Child Study Center shows promising results concerning the use of the hormone oxytocin. The study found that oxytocin, given as a nasal spray,enhanced brain activity while processing social information in children with autism spectrum disorders. This means brain centers associated with reward and emotion recognition responded more during social tasks when the children in the study received oxytocin.
According to a new study in the journal Pediatrics, kids with autism are often prescribed mood altering drugs, sometimes many at one time and for extended periods of time. These drugs include antipsychotics, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications. The study states that this practice occurs despite minimal evidence of the effectiveness or appropriateness of multidrug treatment of ASD.
The most popular drugs prescribed for autism in some countries often have serious side effects or have not been vetted in robust clinical trials, finds a survey published in the journal Psychopharmacology. Additionally, children with ASDs take more drugs than adults with ASDs. ADHD in children with autism may play a factor in this.
Scientists at the Seaver Autism Center at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have received grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Autism Science Foundation to study Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1), a promising treatment for subtypes of autism. Clinical Director at the Seaver Autism Center, Dr. Alex Kolevzon, says, “IGF-1 has the potential to be effective in treating Phelan-McDermid Syndrome and other types of autism spectrum disorder. We are very pleased that the NIH and the Autism Science Foundation have recognized this by providing us funding to continue our work in bringing this medication to our patients.
The FDA has issued a warning against using Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) in the treatment of autism. HBOT involves breathing oxygen in a pressurized chamber. This treatment has not been cleared by the FDA for the treatment of autism, though there are some places on the internet that falsely claim it has. The FDA urges people to work with their health care professional to determine their best choice for treatment.
Seaside Therapeutics has discontinued their extension study of Arbaclofen (STX209), a drug that showed promise in treating social impairment related to Fragile X syndrome.
Guest blogger Marcela De Vivo shares insight on some of the difficulties immigrant families face when getting help for their child with autism in this week’s ASF blog post.
Researchers at University of California Irvine conducted a randomized controlled trial of sensorimotor enrichment in young boys with ASD. Behavioral and cognitive improvements in the children who received sensorimotor therapy suggest that it may be a promising treatment for ASD symptoms. The group is now conducting a larger trial that includes girls.
Cognitive Enhancement Therapy for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Results of an 18-month Feasibility StudyPublished 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.
“If passed, Ava’s Law would require insurance companies to pay for “evidence-driven treatment” — or treatment that’s been scientifically shown to help kids with an autism spectrum disorder. The law would not affect the self-insured plans offered by bigger companies, which cover about 60% of insured people in the state, according to the Georgia Office of Insurance.”
Is Medication Information for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Monitored and Coordinated Across Professionals? Findings from a Teacher SurveyPublished March 1, 2013 in School Mental Health
This study examined school-based medication monitoring in children with ASD. Researchers found that less than half of teachers of medicated students were aware that students were taking medication and no teachers were communicating with prescribing physicians about student behavior and side effects. Since monitoring medication across settings helps physicians assess drug safety and effectiveness, the authors argue for increased communication among professionals.
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.
Brief Report: Is Cognitive Rehabilitation Needed in Verbal Adults with Autism? Insights from Initial Enrollment in a Trial of Cognitive Enhancement TherapyPublished 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.
Study Shows Children with Autism only 10 Percent More Likely to be Using Complementary and Alternative MedicinePublished January 11, 2013 in Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
A new study from the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics looked at nearly 600 children with ASD and with developmental delays. 40 percent of the children with autism in the study were using complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). While this may seem like a high percentage, it is only ten percent higher than the rate of nonautistic children in the study using CAM. The most common forms of complementary treatments reported were dietary supplements.
More military families will have access to ABA under a new government program.
This is the first randomized controlled trial demonstrating the efficacy of mindfulness-based therapy for adults with ASD. Participants who received MBT benefited from the therapy, showing less depression, anxiety and rumination, and more positive affect.
Authors of this new review on chelation treatment say, the weakness of the evidence base, the lack of a sound rationale for use of chelation as an ASD treatment, and the potential negative side effects strongly argue against the use of chelation treatment for ASD.
An estimated 32-92% of parents use complementary/alternative treatments for their children with ASD despite the lack of scientific evidence for the efficacy of these methods. In this article, researchers issue a call for a standardized way to select and evaluate treatments. Barriers to successful treatment, including high costs, limited availability, parental compliance and poor recommendations from professionals are discussed.
A drug used for decades to treat high blood pressure and other conditions has shown promise in a small clinical trial for autism.
Sensory integration therapy is a popular ASD intervention, but this systematic review suggests scientific evidence does not support its use.
New Supplement in Pediatrics: Improving Health Care for Children and Youth With Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental DisordersPublished November 1, 2012 in Pediatrics
Access full articles on interventions, sleep and GI problems, health care coverage and more.
Autism Interventions Supported by Moderate Evidence; Better Studies Needed to Validate EffectivenessPublished November 1, 2012 in RAND Corporation
Widely used autism interventions are supported by moderate evidence. Head-to-head trials of competing autism treatments are needed to identify which programs are superior and additional work should follow study participants long-term to further examine the effectiveness of treatments.
Sponsored in part by ASF, the new Nature Outlook supplement on autism features articles on genetics, adulthood, brain imaging, diagnosis and more.
Neural Mechanisms of Improvements in Social Motivation After Pivotal Response Treatment: Two Case StudiesPublished 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).
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.
Effects of a Brief Early Start Denver Model (ESDM)-Based Parent Intervention on Toddlers at Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Randomized Controlled TrialPublished October 1, 2012 in Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
Contrary to their hypothesis, Sally Rogers and colleagues found that toddlers with ASD in a brief, parent-delivered ESDM program did not make greater gains or show reduced core ASD symptoms compared to autistic toddlers in a community ESDM program. Study strongly suggests number of intervention hours and younger age at initiation are key to maximizing intervention benefits, even for 1 and 2 year olds. Authors say, the wait and see approach to early ASD must be replaced by an act now mentality.
With the impending release of DSM-5, this article reviews proposed changes related to ASD diagnosis and discusses possible implications of DSM-5 changes on autism treatment and research.
Experimental Drug may Treat Social Withdrawal Symptoms in Individuals with Fragile X Syndrome, the Most Common Known Genetic Cause of Autism.Published September 19, 2012 in Science Translational Medicine
Arbaclofen, also known as STX209, shows promise in its treatment of social symptoms associated with fragile x syndrome.
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are a genetically and phenotypically heterogeneous group of syndromes defined by fundamental impairments in social reciprocity and language development accompanied by highly restrictive interests and/or repetitive behaviors. Recent advances in genetics, genomics, developmental neurobiology, systems biology, monogenic neurodevelopment syndromes, and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) are now offering remarkable insights into their etiologies and converging to provide a clear and immediate path forward from the bench to the bedside.
Researchers have uncovered a rare, genetic form of autism caused by mutations that speed up the breakdown of certain amino acids.
With the latest annotation of the human genome, researchers have made new discoveries about common diseases
Early Behavioral Intervention is Associated with Normalized Brain Activity in Young Children with AutismPublished 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.
The goal of this pilot study was to assess the feasibility of using oral N-acetylcysteine (NAC), a glutamatergic modulator and an antioxidant, in the treatment of behavioral disturbance in children with autism.
Exploring the Social Impact of Being a Typical Peer Model for Included Children with Autism Spectrum DisorderPublished 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.
Evaluation of a Parent-Based Behavioral Intervention Program for Children with Autism in a Low-Resource SettingPublished January 1, 2012 in Journal of Pediatric Neuroscience
Many countries do not have widely available or established resources for individuals with autism. This study from New Delhi, India examines parent-based intervention programs for children with autism in a low-resource setting.
This article addresses an important and barely researched topic: what happens to children with autism spectrum disorders when they grow old.