Research by Topic: Treatment

The extra benefit of caregiver mediated interventions

Published August 28, 2019 in ASF Podcasr

This week, a new systematic review published by researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute looked at the existing evidence around caregiver (parent) mediated interventions and not child outcome, but family relationships and dynamics. While it isn’t the focus on the intervention, what effect does allowing parents to be involved and empowered on their child’s support on […]

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This study is s**t

Published July 2, 2019 in ASF Podcast

You may have heard on the internet that a new “radical” treatment leads to a “50% reduction” in autism symptoms.  This radical treatment is fecal transplants, which is taking the bacteria from the feces from one person and putting them in another person.  This is a still experimental treatment, and while the microbiome should be […]

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Adaptive behavior in autism: Minimal clinically important differences on the Vineland-II

Published June 24, 2019 in Autism Research

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is associated with persistent impairments in adaptive abilities across multiple domains. These social, personal, and communicative impairments become increasingly pronounced with development, and are present regardless of IQ. The Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, Second Edition (Vineland-II) is the most commonly used instrument for quantifying these impairments, but minimal clinically important differences […]

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Podcast: Can IGF-1 treat autism symptoms? A clinical trial aims to find out

Published September 10, 2018

Researchers at Mount Sinai led by Alex Kolevzon are running a clinical trial of the compound insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) for children with idiopathic autism. Dr. Kolevzon’s team previously demonstrated the safety and feasibility of IGF-1 in treating Phelan-McDermid syndrome, a single-gene form of autism. Particularly, the IGF-1 treatment improved symptoms of social impairment […]

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Podcast: Tristram Smith, 1961-2018

Published August 27, 2018

Two weeks ago, the autism research community lost a pioneer, mentor and advocate for the autism community. This podcast only highlights a portion of the enormous contribution he made to autism research and the impact his research had on families with ASD. Also, two people that know him best, one of his current mentees, Suzannah […]

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Learn what the new Autism Centers for Excellence are doing

Published October 15, 2017

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.  

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In defense of ABA

Published August 23, 2016

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 […]

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Aggression in Autism: Risk Factors and Treatment

Published July 25, 2016

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 […]

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Omega 3 Fatty Acids Not Effective for Treating Symptoms of ASD

Published March 21, 2015 in Molecular Autism

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.

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Risperidone Use in Children with Autism Carries Heavy Risks

Published April 28, 2014 in Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative

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.

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Long Neglected, Severe Cases of Autism Get Some Attention

Published December 30, 2013 in Simons Foundation Autism Research Institute

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.

December 19, 2013

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Oxytocin Improves Brain Function in Children with Autism

Published December 2, 2013 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

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.

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Kids with Autism are Often on Many Medications at Once

Published October 21, 2013 in Pediatrics

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.

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Autism Drugs in Some Countries have Serious Side Effects

Published September 20, 2013 in Simons Foundation Autism Research Institute

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.

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The Autism Science Foundation and the NIH Fund Study of Promising Treatment for Autism Subtypes

Published August 26, 2013 in Newswise

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.

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FDA Warns Against Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Autism

Published August 22, 2013 in U.S. Food and Drug Administration

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.

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Seaside Therapeutics Discontinues Arbaclofen (STX209) Extension Study

Published May 31, 2013 in The Boston Globe

Seaside Therapeutics has discontinued their extension study of Arbaclofen (STX209), a drug that showed promise in treating social impairment related to Fragile X syndrome.

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How Can Immigrant Families Get Help For Their Autistic Child

Published May 24, 2013 in ASF Blog

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.

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Environmental Enrichment as an Effective Treatment for Autism: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Published May 20, 2013 in Behavioral Neuroscience

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.

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Special Issue on: School-based Research of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Published May 1, 2013 in Autism

Autism Special Issue

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Cognitive Enhancement Therapy for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Results of an 18-month Feasibility Study

Published 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.

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SFARI: Studies Show Promise for Fragile X Treatment

Published April 25, 2013 in SFARI

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Mothers Fight to Pass Ava’s Law for Autism Coverage

Published March 12, 2013 in CNN

“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.”

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Is Medication Information for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Monitored and Coordinated Across Professionals? Findings from a Teacher Survey

Published 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.

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

Published February 27, 2013 in PLOS One

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.

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Brief Report: Is Cognitive Rehabilitation Needed in Verbal Adults with Autism? Insights from Initial Enrollment in a Trial of Cognitive Enhancement Therapy

Published 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.

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Study Shows Children with Autism only 10 Percent More Likely to be Using Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Published 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.

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ABA Therapy OKd for More Military Kids

Published January 7, 2013 in Disability Scoop

More military families will have access to ABA under a new government program.

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Mindfulness-based Therapy in Adults with an Autism Spectrum Disorder: a Randomized Controlled Trial

Published January 1, 2013 in Research in Developmental Disabilities

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.

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Chelation Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Systematic Review

Published January 1, 2013 in Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders

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.

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Why Are There So Many Unsubstantiated Treatments in Autism?

Published December 27, 2012 in Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders

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.

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Diuretic Drug Offers Latest Hope for Autism Treatment

Published December 11, 2012 in Science Magazine

A drug used for decades to treat high blood pressure and other conditions has shown promise in a small clinical trial for autism.

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Sensory Integration Therapy for Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Systematic Review

Published November 20, 2012 in Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Sensory integration therapy is a popular ASD intervention, but this systematic review suggests scientific evidence does not support its use.

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New Supplement in Pediatrics: Improving Health Care for Children and Youth With Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Published November 1, 2012 in Pediatrics

Access full articles on interventions, sleep and GI problems, health care coverage and more.

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Autism Interventions Supported by Moderate Evidence; Better Studies Needed to Validate Effectiveness

Published 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.

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Nature Outlook: Autism Now Available Online

Published October 31, 2012 in Nature

Sponsored in part by ASF, the new Nature Outlook supplement on autism features articles on genetics, adulthood, brain imaging, diagnosis and more.

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Neural Mechanisms of Improvements in Social Motivation After Pivotal Response Treatment: Two Case Studies

Published 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).

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Interventions Addressing Social Impairment in Autism

Published October 4, 2012 in Current Psychiatry Reports

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.

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Effects of a Brief Early Start Denver Model (ESDM)-Based Parent Intervention on Toddlers at Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Published 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.

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What the DSM-5 Portends for Research, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Published September 19, 2012 in Current Psychiatry Reports

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.

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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.

Effects of STX209 (Arbaclofen) on Neurobehavioral Function in Children and Adults with Fragile X Syndrome: A Randomized, Controlled, Phase 2 Trial

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The Emerging Biology of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Published September 14, 2012 in Science

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.

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Dietary Supplement may Treat Rare Form of Autism

Published September 6, 2012 in Science

Researchers have uncovered a rare, genetic form of autism caused by mutations that speed up the breakdown of certain amino acids.

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Junk DNA Holds Clues to Cancer, Autism

Published September 6, 2012 in Scientific American

With the latest annotation of the human genome, researchers have made new discoveries about common diseases

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Early Behavioral Intervention is Associated with Normalized Brain Activity in Young Children with Autism

Published 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.

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A Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial of Oral N-Acetylcysteine in Children with Autism.

Published June 1, 2012 in Biol Psychiatry

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.

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Exploring the Social Impact of Being a Typical Peer Model for Included Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Published 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.

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Evaluation of a Parent-Based Behavioral Intervention Program for Children with Autism in a Low-Resource Setting

Published 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.

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Aging in Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Mini-Review

Published August 24, 2011 in Gerontology

This article addresses an important and barely researched topic: what happens to children with autism spectrum disorders when they grow old.

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Autism Drug Aims to Balance Brain Signals

Published September 15, 2010 in New Scientist

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FDA Approves Abilify for Autism-Linked Irritability

Published November 20, 2009 in Associated Press

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