Autism Science

Should We Believe the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Autism Spectrum Disorder Prevalence Estimates?

Autism: The International Journal of Research and Practice
Date Published: 
July 2014

Autism: The International Journal of Research and Practice has published an important and interesting new editorial by Dr. David Mandell and Dr. Luc Lecavalier that challenges the methods the CDC uses to collect and publish autism prevalence data, now at 1 in 68.

Costs of Autism Spectrum Disorders in the United Kingdom and the United States

JAMA Pediatrics
Date Published: 
June 9, 2014

Having an accurate estimate of the economic cost of autism has many implications for service and system planning. The most recent estimates are almost a decade old and had to rely on many estimates for which there were no good data. Today in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers, including ASF Scientific Advisory Board member Dr. David Mandell, updated older estimates and further expanded our understanding of costs by estimating them for two countries: the United States and the United Kingdom. They also estimated costs separately for children and adults, and for individuals with autism with and without intellectual disability. To estimate costs, researchers reviewed the literature on related studies, conducting a thorough search of studies that estimated direct costs, such as education and service use costs, as well as indirect costs, such as lost wages for family members and the individual with autism. They found that for individuals with autism and intellectual disability, the average lifetime cost was $2.4 million in the US and $2.2 million in the UK. For individuals without intellectual disability, the average cost was $1.4 million in both the US and the UK. For children with autism, the largest costs were for special education and parents’ lost wages. For adults with autism, the largest costs were residential care and lost wages.

Click here for the full article. 

Meeting of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee

Jul 8 2014 9:00 am
America/New York
Start Date: 
July 8, 2014
Rockville, MD

Please join us for an IACC Full Committee meeting that will take place on Tuesday, July 8, 2014 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET at The Neuroscience Center, 6001 Executive Boulevard, Conference Rooms C and D, Rockville, Maryland 20852.
Onsite registration will begin at 8:00a.m.

Agenda: The committee will discuss committee business, agency updates and issues related to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) research and services activities.

Meeting location:
The Neuroscience Center
6001 Executive Boulevard, Conference Rooms C and D
Rockville, Maryland 20852

Nearest Metro stop:
White Flint Metro Station – Red Line

In the interest of security, visitors will be asked to show one form of identification (for example, a government-issued photo ID, driver’s license, or passport) and to state the purpose of their visit upon entrance to the Neuroscience Center.

The meeting will be open to the public and pre-registration is recommended. Seating will be limited to the room capacity and seats will be on a first come, first served basis, with expedited check-in for those who are pre-registered. Please visit the IACC website for access and information about registering.

Public Comment – Deadlines:
Notification of intent to present oral comments: Monday, June 30th by 5:00p.m. ET
Submission of written/electronic statement for oral comments: Tuesday, July 1st by 5:00p.m. ET
Submission of written comments: Tuesday, July 1st by 5:00p.m. ET

Remote Access:
The meeting will be remotely accessible by videocast  ( and conference call.  Members of the public who participate using the conference call phone number will only be able to listen to the meeting. 

Conference Call Access 
USA/Canada Phone Number: 888-946-7606

Access code: 9653752

Individuals who participate using this service and who need special assistance, such as captioning of the conference call or other reasonable accommodations, should submit a request to the contact person listed below at least five days prior to the meeting. If you experience any technical problems with the conference call, please e-mail at or call the IACC Technical Support Help Line at 415-652-8023.

Please visit the IACC Events page for the latest information about the meeting, including registration, remote access information, the agenda, materials and information about prior IACC events.

Contact Person for this meeting is:

Ms. Lina Perez
Office of Autism Research Coordination
National Institute of Mental Health, NIH
6001 Executive Boulevard, NSC
Room 6182A
Rockville, MD 20852
Phone: 301-443-6040

Large Study Underscores Role of Gene Copy Number in Autism

Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
June 2, 2014

People with autism tend to carry mutations that duplicate or delete several genes at once, according to a large study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics. Previous studies have shown that people with autism have more large deletions or duplications of DNA, also known as copy number variations (CNVs), than controls do. The new study, the largest to look at CNVs in people with autism thus far, confirms this finding. It also found that in people with autism, the CNVs are more likely to affect genes linked to intellectual disability and fragile X syndrome.

The cost-effectiveness of supported employment for adults with autism in the United Kingdom

Autism: the international journal of research and practice
Date Published: 
April 29, 2014

"Adults with autism face high rates of unemployment. Supported employment enables individuals with autism to secure and maintain a paid job in a regular work environment. The objective of this study was to assess the cost-effectiveness of supported employment compared with standard care (day services) for adults with autism in the United Kingdom. The analysis suggests that supported employment schemes for adults with autism in the United Kingdom are cost-effective compared with standard care. Further research needs to confirm these findings."

Comparing cognitive outcomes among children with autism spectrum disorders receiving community-based early intervention in one of three placements

Autism: the international journal of research and practice
Date Published: 
April 18, 2014

"Little comparative research examines which community-based preschool intervention placements produce the best outcomes for which children with autism spectrum disorders. Autism-specific placements can provide intensive evidence-based care; however, inclusion settings provide interaction with typically developing peers, the importance of which is increasingly recognized. This study examined the association between early intervention placement in three settings (autism-only, mixed disability, or inclusive) and cognitive outcomes upon entry into elementary school in an urban school district for 98 preschool-aged children with autism spectrum disorders.. A consistent pattern emerged that suggested the particular importance of inclusive placements for children with initially greater social impairments, greater adaptive behavior impairments, and at least a baseline level of language skills. Opportunities to interact with typically developing peers may be particularly beneficial for certain subgroups of young children with autism spectrum disorders. The results provide preliminary insight into important child characteristics to consider when parents and providers make preschool early intervention placement decisions."

Oxytocin enhances brain function in children with autism

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Date Published: 
December 24, 2013

"Following intranasal administration of oxytocin (OT), we measured, via functional MRI, changes in brain activity during judgments of socially (Eyes) and nonsocially (Vehicles) meaningful pictures in 17 children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (ASD). OT increased activity in the striatum, the middle frontal gyrus, the medial prefrontal cortex, the right orbitofrontal cortex, and the left superior temporal sulcus. In the striatum, nucleus accumbens, left posterior superior temporal sulcus, and left premotor cortex, OT increased activity during social judgments and decreased activity during nonsocial judgments. Changes in salivary OT concentrations from baseline to 30 min postadministration were positively associated with increased activity in the right amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex during social vs. nonsocial judgments. OT may thus selectively have an impact on salience and hedonic evaluations of socially meaningful stimuli in children with ASD, and thereby facilitate social attunement. These findings further the development of a neurophysiological systems-level understanding of mechanisms by which OT may enhance social functioning in children with ASD."

Association between maternal use of folic acid supplements and risk of autism spectrum disorders in children

Journal of the American Medical Association
Date Published: 
February 13, 2013



The goal of this study was to determine the relationship between the use of prenatal folic acid supplements and presence of autism spectrum disorders in offspring. The study concluded that the use of prenatal folic acid supplements around the time fo conception was associated with a lower risk of autism spectrum disorders. These findings support the use of prenatal folic acid supplementation to reduce the risk of autism, however, the findings cannot establish causality. 

Maternal antibodies from mothers of children with autism alter brain growth and social behavior development in the rhesus monkey

Translational Psychiatry
Date Published: 
July 9, 2013

Recent studies have produced findings that suggest that immunoglobulin G (IgG) class antibodies cross the placenta during pregnancy and affect brain development. Researchers believe that this may lead to one form of ASD. The activity of IgG antibodies was monitored in groups of female rhesus monkeys during their first and second trimesters of pregnancy. Results demonstrated there were differences in white matter volume in IgG-ASD offspring, and these differences were most prominent in the frontal lobes. 

Coexpression networks implicate human midfetal deep cortical projection neurons in the pathogenesis of autism

Date Published: 
November 21, 2013

"As techniques for studying the human genome have advanced, an increasing number of genes are being associated with ASD; it is important to find the connections between these ASD-linked genes in order to understand how they may contribute to ASD. A new resource called the BrainSpan1 atlas provides researchers with three dimensional maps showing when and where genes turn on and off in the human brain, from embryonic stages through older adulthood. This study used the BrainSpan atlas to identify commonalities in when and where ASD-associated genes are expressed.By using the shared characteristics of different gene mutations implicated in ASD, this study creates a picture of the developmental processes that are changed in these cases. This image provides a sharper focus for the development of targeted treatments, and even holds potential for the development of personalized interventions based on genotype."