Autism Science

Physical Aggression in Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Source: 
Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Date Published: 
December 27, 2012
Abstract: 

The prevalence of physical aggression was 53% across a sample of nearly 1600 children and adolescents with ASD. Girls and boys were equally likely to display aggressive behaviors. The researchers suggest sleep problems, self-injury and sensory problems may increase risk for physical aggression, and argue for better identification and treatment of these conditions.

Mothers Fight to Pass Ava's Law for Autism Coverage

Source: 
CNN
Date Published: 
March 12, 2013
Abstract: 

"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."

Elevated Repetitive Behaviors are Associated with Lower Diurnal Salivary Cortisol Levels in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Source: 
Biological Psychiatry
Date Published: 
March 1, 2013
Abstract: 

This pilot study examined the relationship between repetitive behaviors (RBs) and cortisol, a hormone that is released in response to stress, in individuals with ASD. Multiple salivary cortisol samples were taken over three days for 21 children with ASD with high and low levels of RBs. Children in both groups showed the same pattern of cortisol change throughout the day, but the overall cortisol levels in the high RB group were significantly lower, suggesting RBs may work to soothe and decrease stress.

Predictors of Phrase and Fluent Speech in Children With Autism and Severe Language Delay

Source: 
Pediatrics
Date Published: 
March 4, 2013
Abstract: 

Researchers at Kennedy Krieger examined prevalence and predictors of language attainment in severely language-delayed children with ASD. 70% of the sample attained phrase speech and 47% attained fluent speech at or after age 4, indicating that later gains in language are likely in toddlers with severely delayed language. Children with high nonverbal intelligence and high levels of social interest and engagement were most likely to attain language. ASD-related features such as repetitive and sensory behaviors were not associated with language attainment.

Beyond Autism: A Baby Siblings Research Consortium Study of High-risk Children at Three Years of Age

Source: 
Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Date Published: 
February 8, 2013
Abstract: 

This study is the first large-scale examination of ASD behavioral characteristics and developmental functioning in high-risk (HR), non-autistic 3-year-olds with siblings on the spectrum. 79% of HR children were either no different from low-risk children (LR; no known ASD family history) with respect to ASD behavioral severity and developmental functioning, or were developmentally on target with high levels of ASD-related behaviors. 21% of HR children with no ASD diagnosis had an "early manifestation" of a broad autism phenotype: high levels of ASD-related behaviors and/or low levels of verbal and nonverbal functioning. The authors highlight the importance of developmental surveillance and intervention for this HR subset.

Oxytocin and Vasopressin in Children and Adolescents With Autism Spectrum Disorders: Sex Differences and Associations With Symptoms

Source: 
Autism Research and Treatment
Date Published: 
February 14, 2013
Abstract: 

Following positive results of treatment studies using oxytocin (OT) and evidence of genetic variations in the OT-arginine vasopressin (AVP) pathway in individuals with ASD, a new study from UC Berkeley further examines the involvement of OT and AVP in ASD. Results suggest levels of OT in individuals with ASD may not be as low as previously believed. Moreover, the researchers found significant gender differences, including higher levels of OT in girls and higher levels of AVP in boys.

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

Source: 
PLOS One
Date Published: 
February 27, 2013
Abstract: 

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.

Letting a Typical Mouse Judge Whether Mouse Social Interactions are Atypical

Source: 
Autism Research
Date Published: 
February 21, 2013
Abstract: 

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.

Examining and Interpreting the Female Protective Effect against Autistic Behavior

Source: 
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Date Published: 
February 19, 2013
Abstract: 

This study examined the hypothesis that a protective component of the female sex protects females from autistic behavioral impairment. The results indicate that greater familial risk may be associated with ASD in females, and males may require fewer familial risk factors to reach a similar impairment threshold. The authors hope the study will provide insight into the ASD sex ratio and aid future genetic research.

Age of First Words Predicts Cognitive Ability and Adaptive Skills in Children with ASD

Source: 
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Date Published: 
February 1, 2013
Abstract: 

Producing words by 2 years of age strongly predicted better outcomes in this study of language acquisition and later functioning in children with ASD. The authors suggest that the "acquiring useful language by age 5" criterion for positive prognosis can be updated.