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Request for Information (RFI): Impact of DSM-5 Changes to Diagnostic Criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) on Research and Services

National Institutes of Health
Date Published: 
April 14, 2014

The NIH is requesting additional input from the scientific community, health professionals, self-advocates and patient advocates about the research implications of recent changes to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Responses will be accepted through May 12, 2014.

ASF Video: Five Years of Autism Research


ASF celebrates its 5th anniversary! Watch to learn about our first five years of searching, solving, and sharing.

CDC Releases 2014 Community Report on Autism

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Date Published: 
April 11, 2014

The CDC has released its 2014 Community Report on Autism, which gives details behind the new 1 in 68 number, as well as additional state-by-state prevalence information.

Autism Science Foundation Announces Spring 2014 Pre- and Postdoctoral Grant Recipients

Date Published: 
April 10, 2014

Nine new projects to be funded.

(April 10, 2014 -- New York, NY)-- The Autism Science Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to funding autism research, today announced the recipients of its annual pre and post-doctoral fellowships.  5 postdoctoral and 4 predoctoral grants will be awarded to student/mentor teams conducting research in autism interventions, etiology, treatment targets, biomarkers, language development and animal models.

The autism community has demanded more research to understand what is causing autism and to develop better treatments” said ASF president Alison Singer. “We are proud to be able to increase our research funding in response to this national health crisis and we are especially grateful to all our donors and volunteers who have come together to support autism research and make these grants possible”.

In its five years of operations, the Autism Science Foundation has funded over $1.6 million in grants. 

“ASF attracts outstanding applicants across the board, representing a broad range of perspectives on autism science” said Dr. Matthew State, Chair of the ASF Scientific Advisory Board and Chairman of the Psychiatry Department at the University of California, San Francisco. “These projects show great potential to move the field forward.”

The following projects were selected for 2014 funding:

Postdoctoral Fellowships:

Dr. Boaz Barak/Dr. Guoping Feng: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Characterizing and Manipulating the Social Reward Dysfunction in a Novel Mouse Model for Autism
Goal:  Provide treatment-facilitating insight into the pathophysiology of autism

Dr. Shweta Ghai/Dr. Gordon Ramsey: Emory University, Marcus Center
Identifying Biomarkers for Early Diagnosis of Prosody Disorder in ASD using Electroglottography
Goal: Improve vocal and language development in children with ASD

Dr. Katherine Kuhl-Meltzoff Stavropoulos/ Dr. James McPartland: Yale University 
The Effects of Oxytocin on Social Learning in Individuals with ASD
Goal: Understand who may or may not benefit from oxytocin treatment

Dr. Julia Parish-Morris/Dr. Robert Schultz: University of Pennsylvania
Developing Automated Algorithms to Assess Linguistic Variation in Individuals with Autism
Goal: Design effective, personalized interventions for pragmatic language deficits

Dr. Aarthi Padmanabhan/Dr. Vinod Menon: Stanford University
Social Motivations and Striatal Circuit Development in Children and Adolescents with Autism
Goal: Determine windows of brain plasticity during which intervention may be especially successful


Predoctoral Fellowships:

Alexandra Bey/Dr. Yong-hui Jiang: Duke University
The Role of Shank3 in Neocortex Versus Striatum and the Pathophysiology of Autism
Goal: Determine whether and how specific brain regions control specific ASD-related behaviors

Nick Goeden/Dr. Alexandre Bonnin: University of Southern California
The Impact of Maternal Inflammation During Pregnancy on Placental Tryptophan Metabolism, and the Downstream Consequences on Fetal Brain Development
Goal: Understand the impact of prenatal inflammation and infection on fetal brain circuits and ASD development

Erin Li/Dr. Alexander Kolevzon: Seaver Autism Center, Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai 
Mapping the Neurobehavioral Phenotype in Autism and Phelan McDermid Syndrome
Goal: Characterize the clinical features of Phelan McDermid Syndrome compared to idiopathic autism; provide autism-intensive training to medical school students to build a pipeline of knowledgeable, autism-friendly physicians

Donghui Wei/Dr. Daniele Piomelli: University of California, Irvine
Endocannabinod Enhancement of Sociability in Autism-related Mouse Models 
Goal: Develop and test novel therapies for ASD


The Autism Science Foundation (ASF) is a 501(c) (3) public charity. Its mission is to support autism research by providing funding to scientists and organizations conducting autism research. ASF also provides information about autism to the general public and serves to increase awareness of autism spectrum disorders and the needs of individuals and families affected by autism. To learn more about the Autism Science Foundation or to make a donation visit www.autismsciencefoundation.org


Contact Info:    
Casey Gold
Program Associate
Autism Science Foundation

IACC Issues Statement Regarding Implications of Changes in the Diagnostic Criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee
Date Published: 
April 2, 2014

Today, on World Autism Awareness Day 2014, the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), issued a statement regarding the implications of changes in the diagnostic criteria for ASD that were made in the most recent update of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Of particular interest are the scientific, practice, and policy implications as DSM-5 is implemented in real-world settings, especially with respect to allocation of services.

Hilibrand Autism Symposium: Carving a Place in the World for Young Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorders

Hilibrand Autism Symposium
Date Published: 
April 1, 2014

Every adult wants to lead a meaningful life, and individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are no different. More and more, people with ASD are working, living, and engaging in their communities, and are being recognized for their strengths and talents. Yet the questions still remain: What do young adults with ASD need to transition to being productive members of society whose skills and interests are used and valued? How can professionals, parents, advocates, and others ensure that a place in the world is carved out for these individuals? This conference will present new research and innovative models to spark a dialogue about current challenges and effective solutions to helping adults with ASD obtain and maintain work, social connections, and independence.

ASF Scientific Advisory Board Member David Mandell will be giving the keynote address.

Tune into the Hilibrand Autism Symposium lifestream today from 9:00am to 4:30pm at

How to Think About the Risk of Autism

New York Times
Date Published: 
March 29, 2014

When it comes to autism prevalence, it can be difficult to separate real risks from false rumors. The topics that gain the most media coverage aren't always the ones with the greatest affect on autism risk. The risk ratio can give perspective where isolated news stories don’t.

CDC: 1 in 68 Children has an Autism Spectrum Disorder

Date Published: 
March 27, 2014

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today reported that 1 in 68 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. This new estimate is roughly 30 percent higher than previous estimates reported in 2012 of 1 in 88 children.

Proportion of children with ASD and above average IQ on the rise
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today reported that 1 in 68 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. This new estimate is roughly 30 percent higher than previous estimates reported in 2012 of 1 in 88 children. The number of children identified with ASD ranged from 1 in 175 children in Alabama to 1 in 45 children in New Jersey. 
The surveillance summary report, “Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder among Children Aged 8 Years – Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2010,” was published today in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.  Researchers reviewed records from community sources that educate, diagnose, treat and/or provide services to children with developmental disabilities. 
The data continue to show that ASD is almost five times more common among boys than girls:  1 in 42 boys versus 1 in 189 girls. White children are more likely to be identified as having ASD than are black or Hispanic children.
Levels of intellectual ability vary greatly among children with autism, ranging from severe intellectual challenges to average or above average intellectual ability.  The study found that almost half of children identified with ASD have average or above average intellectual ability (an IQ above 85) compared to a third of children a decade ago.
"The data are important because they help us plan for the types of services we should be building based on the needs of the kids" said Alison Singer, President of the Autism Science Foundation.  "People with autism and intellectual disability have very different services and supports needs than people with autism who don't have intellectual disability.  The data also drive research . We learned nothing from this data about what causes autism or what causes different types of autism, but the data provide important clues about how we should be approaching those questions."
The report also shows most children with ASD are diagnosed after age 4, even though ASD can be diagnosed as early as age 2. 
“The most important thing for parents to do is to act early when there is a concern about a child’s development,”said Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, M.D., chief of CDC’s Developmental Disabilities Branch. “If you have a concern about how your child plays, learns, speaks, acts, or moves, take action. Don’t wait.”

Patches of Disorganization in the Neocortex of Children with Autism

New England Journal of Medicine
Date Published: 
March 26, 2014

New evidence suggests that autism begins in the brain before birth when brain cells fail to develop properly. In this study, the abnormalities in the brain cells were not uniform, showing autism's wide range of symptoms and severity. This better understanding of prenatal development of the brain cells of people with autism underscores the importance of early identification and intervention.

New Technique Finds Mutant Cells in a Haystack

Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
March 19, 2014

Researchers have developed a method to isolate a single mutant cell from thousands of others, they reported in the March issue of Nature Methods. The new approach will allow researchers to precisely engineer and study human cells without altering the genome. Ultimately, the method could be used to alter an individual’s cells before returning them to his or her body.