Behavior

A Systematic Review of Medical Treatments for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Source: 
Pediatrics, McPheeters et al.
Date Published: 
April 2011
Year Published: 
2011

Researchers at Vanderbilt University reviewed evidence regarding medical treatment of children 12 years old and younger with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It was found that risperidone and aripiprazole for treatment of challenging and repetitive behaviors in children with ASDs. However, there are significant adverse effects of these medicines, including severe impairment or risk of injury, preventing their wider use. There is currently little evidence present to evaluate the use of other medical treatments for ASDs—neither their positive nor their negative effects.

A Systematic Review of Early Intensive Intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorders

Source: 
Pediatrics
Date Published: 
April 2011
Year Published: 
2011

Researchers at Vanderbilt University reviewed the effectiveness of early intervention programs for children aged 12 and younger with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). Overall, the strength of the evidence ranged from insufficient to low. Studies performed at the University of California Los Angeles /Lovaas-based interventions and variants reported clinically significant gains in language and cognitive skills in some children, as did 1 randomized control trial of an early intensive developmental intervention approach (the Early Start Denver Model). Data suggests that subgroups of children displayed more prominent gains across studies, but common characteristics of those who experienced greater gains are not understood. Studies into the effectiveness of Early Intervention programs demonstrated some progress in cognitive performance, language skills, and adaptive behavior skills in some young children with ASDs, but there is limited literature available on the topic.

Catching Autism Symptoms Early to Enable Effective Preventative Interventions Through Play

Source: 
Medical News Today
Date Published: 
March 23, 2011
Abstract: 

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.

Interactive Program for Dealing with Behavioral Problems is Available as iPhone Application

Source: 
Medical News Today
Date Published: 
March 18, 2011
Abstract: 

Behavior Breakthroughs™, an interactive program developed by Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), uses game-based technology and 3-D imagery to help train people who work with children and adults with behavioral problems.

Shank3 Mutant Mice Display Autistic-like Behaviors and Striatal Dysfunction

Source: 
Nature, Peça et al.
Date Published: 
March 2011
Year Published: 
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 grooming and deficits in social interaction.” Cellular, electrophysiological, and biochemical analyses revealed defects at striatal synapses and cortico-striatal circuits in Shank3 mutant mice. The study’s findings demonstrate that Shank3 plays a critical role in the development of neuronal connectivity. The study also established a causality between a disruption in the Shank3 gene and the beginning of autistic-like behaviors in mice.

Applied Behavior Analysis: Behavior Management of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders in Dental Environments

Source: 
Journal of the American Dental Association, Hernandez et al.
Date Published: 
March 2011
Year Published: 
2011

Many parents of a child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can attest that dental visits are challenging for their child. Current behavior management techniques currently used in dentistry do not encourage children with ASDs to tolerate periodic dental procedures such as cleanings and obtaining radiographs. In this study, researchers studied the behavior management techniques and how they could be improved. They concluded that Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA)—a procedure clinicians use to modify socially significant behaviors of children with ASDs—could be integrated in the dental office to modify the problematic behaviors. Currently, there is no evidence-based procedural modifications that address the behavioral characteristics and problematic behaviors of children with ASDs in a dental environment, so further research needs to be conducted.

Serotonin Plays Role in Many Autism Cases, Studies Confirm

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
February 24, 2011
Abstract: 

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.

Understanding the Autistic Mind

Source: 
Medical News Today
Date Published: 
February 1, 2011
Abstract: 

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.

Visual Skills Required for Independence Are Impaired in Children With Autism, Research Finds

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
December 20, 2010
Abstract: 

The ability to find shoes in the bedroom, apples in a supermarket, or a favorite animal at the zoo is impaired among children with autism, according to new research from the University of Bristol. Contrary to previous studies, which show that children with autism often demonstrate outstanding visual search skills, this new research indicates that children with autism are unable to search effectively for objects in real-life situations -- a skill that is essential for achieving independence in adulthood.

Changes in Prefrontal Axons May Disrupt the Network in Autism

Source: 
Journal of Neuroscience, Zikopoulos and Barbas
Date Published: 
December 2010
Year Published: 
2010

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 other areas of cortex.  Added to this connection imbalance is a thinner coat of axon insulation, called myelin. These findings may help explain why individuals with autism do not adequately shift attention, engage in repetitive behavior, and avoid social interactions.