- About ASF
- What is Autism?
- How Common is Autism?
- Early Signs of Autism
- Autism Diagnosis
- Following a Diagnosis
- Treatment Options
- Beware of Non-Evidence-Based Treatments
- Autism and Vaccines
- Autism Science
- Quick Facts About Autism
- What We Fund
- Autism Sisters Project
- Baby Siblings Research Consortium
- Resources for Grantees
- Funding Calendar
- ASF Funded Research
- ASF Supported Findings
- Apply for a Fellowship
- Apply for a Research Accelerator Grant
- Apply for an Undergraduate Summer Research Grant
- Apply for INSAR Annual Meeting Travel Grant
- Get Involved
- Day of Learning
- Research Recap of 2017
- Contact Us
Research by Topic: Treatments
In this week’s podcast with Dr. Alycia Halladay Ross, she discusses two new publications that reported on systematic reviews for nutritional and sensory treatments for ASD. This means the existing research was sorted, summarized, scrutinized and evaluated. The reviews found insufficient evidence to show that any dietary or nutritional therapy was effective, but sufficient evidence […]
Studies looking at interventions in autism have been plagued with issues of: what treatments will work best in which people, and use of instruments to detect change that were never designed for use in people with autism. Recently, a new instrument was developed to look at improvements in social – communication in autism. This the […]
The FDA issued a warning today that several companies are making false or misleading claims about products or therapies that claim to treat or cure autism. The so-called treatments, such as chelation therapy or mineral treatments, carry significant risks, FDA says. Please be aware of the FDA’s warning and follow their tips to help you identify false or misleading claims.
The blood pressure drug bumetanide normalizes a deficit in brain activity in two rodent models of autism, according to a study published in Science. The study hints at a mechanism underlying the drugs benefits for people with autism. Neurochlore, a company based in Marseilles, France, is testing bumetanide as a treatment for autism. In the first phase, 27 children with autism showed some improvement in their autism symptoms; the researchers are continuing the trial in Europe with more participants.
A UNC comparative efficacy study that compared the LEAP, TEACCH and Non-Model-Specific Special Education Programs found that young children who receive high-quality early intervention benefit developmentally regardless of the treatment model used.
Seaside Therapeutics has discontinued their extension study of Arbaclofen (STX209), a drug that showed promise in treating social impairment related to Fragile X syndrome.
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.
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.
Cognitive Enhancement Therapy for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Results of an 18-month Feasibility StudyPublished 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.
Is Medication Information for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Monitored and Coordinated Across Professionals? Findings from a Teacher SurveyPublished 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.
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.
Brief Report: Is Cognitive Rehabilitation Needed in Verbal Adults with Autism? Insights from Initial Enrollment in a Trial of Cognitive Enhancement TherapyPublished 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.
Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Children With Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities: Associations With Ethnicity, Child Comorbid Symptoms, and Parental StressPublished January 30, 2013 in Journal of Child Neurology
Families of children with ASD and other comorbid symptoms, including behavioral problems such as irritability and food allergies, were more likely to use complementary and alternative medicine, and they were more likely to use more types of modalities as compared to families of children with other developmental disabilities.
More military families will have access to ABA under a new government program.
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.
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.
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.
A drug used for decades to treat high blood pressure and other conditions has shown promise in a small clinical trial for autism.
Sensory integration therapy is a popular ASD intervention, but this systematic review suggests scientific evidence does not support its use.
New Supplement in Pediatrics: Improving Health Care for Children and Youth With Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental DisordersPublished November 1, 2012 in Pediatrics
Access full articles on interventions, sleep and GI problems, health care coverage and more.
Autism Interventions Supported by Moderate Evidence; Better Studies Needed to Validate EffectivenessPublished 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.
Sponsored in part by ASF, the new Nature Outlook supplement on autism features articles on genetics, adulthood, brain imaging, diagnosis and more.
Neural Mechanisms of Improvements in Social Motivation After Pivotal Response Treatment: Two Case StudiesPublished 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).
A research team led by Gaia Novarino of the University of California, San Diego, has identified genetic mutations which cause a form of autism that could potentially be treated with dietary supplements.
Researchers identified inactivating mutations in the gene BCKDK (Branched Chain Ketoacid Dehydrogenase Kinase) in consanguineous families with autism, epilepsy, and intellectual disability.
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.
Effects of a Brief Early Start Denver Model (ESDM)-Based Parent Intervention on Toddlers at Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Randomized Controlled TrialPublished 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.
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.
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.
Arboclofen Has Potential to Improve Social Function and Behavior in Patients with Fragile X SyndromePublished September 9, 2012 in Science Translational Medicine
Research on animal models suggests that STX209 (arboclofen) might improve neurobehavioral function in patients affected with Fragile X Syndrome.
Researchers have uncovered a rare, genetic form of autism caused by mutations that speed up the breakdown of certain amino acids.
With the latest annotation of the human genome, researchers have made new discoveries about common diseases
Read a comprehensive report on the latest in autism treatments and research. ASF president Alison Singer is quoted. Read the full article – http://autismsciencefoundation.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/an-all-out-assault-on-autism.pdf.
Early Behavioral Intervention is Associated with Normalized Brain Activity in Young Children with AutismPublished 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.
A new study from Vanderbilt and published in Pediatrics finds there’s little science to backup the efficacy of current methods used to help young adults with these neurodevelopmental disorders segue into the workforce.
Sutter Neuroscience Institute and CBR (Cord Blood Registry) are launching the first FDA-approved clinical trial to assess the use of a child’s own cord blood stem cells to treat select patients with autism.
Important work from ASF SAB Member Kevin Pelphrey of the Yale Child Study Center.
Researchers in France found that children with autism who became pet owners after the age of 5 performed better than children without pets on two key measures of social functioning — offering comfort and offering to share. Having a pet from birth did not appear to influence the socialization behaviors, leading the researchers to conclude that the arrival of a pet when a child is old enough to recognize the addition may be critical.
A specific antioxidant supplement containing N-Acetylcysteine, or NAC may be an effective therapy for some features of autism, according to a pilot trial from the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital that involved 31 children with the disorder.
Researchers are conducting advanced trials of the first drugs expressly designed to correct the genetically induced signaling problems in the brain that result in autism. The early indications are positive enough to offer new hope for families and spark interest from drug companies.
In an important test of one of the first drugs to target core symptoms of autism, researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine are undertaking a pilot clinical trial to evaluate insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) in children who have SHANK3 deficiency (also known as 22q13 Deletion Syndrome or Phelan-McDermid Syndrome), a known cause of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
National Institutes of Health researchers have reversed behaviors in mice resembling two of the three core symptoms of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). An experimental compound, called GRN-529, increased social interactions and lessened repetitive self-grooming behavior in a strain of mice that normally display such autism-like behaviors, the researchers say.
Doctors’ belief that certain antidepressants can help to treat repetitive behaviors in kids with autism may be based on incomplete information, according to a new review of published and unpublished research.
Researchers today also say they’re beginning to make progress, perhaps for the first time, in understanding the autistic brain.
On April 2, in honor of the fifth annual World Autism Awareness Day and HHS Autism Awareness Month the IACC has released its annual list of scientific advances that represent significant progress in the field.
Experimental new drugs, AFQ056 (an mGluR5 antagonist from Novartis) and STX209 (arbaclofen from Seaside Therapeutics) are in large scale trials.
Now, a new study offers insight into why some people shrug off physical touches and how families affected by autism may learn to share hugs without overwhelming an autistic childs senses.
A bone-marrow transplant can treat a mouse version of Rett syndrome, a severe autism spectrum disorder that affects roughly 1 in 10,00020,000 girls born worldwide (boys with the disease typically die within a few weeks of birth).
Given that almost 70% of young adults with Asperger syndrome have suffered from depression, it is vital that psychiatric care staff are aware of this so that patients are given the right treatment, reveals research from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
Children with autism spectrum disorders who also have serious behavioral problems responded better to medication combined with training for their parents than to treatment with medication alone, Yale researchers and their colleagues report in the February issue of Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.
New Research Might Help Explain How a Gene Mutation Found in some Autistic Individuals Leads to Difficulties in Processing Auditory Cues and Paying Spatial Attention to Sound.Published February 2, 2012 in Science Daily
New research from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) might help explain how a gene mutation found in some autistic individuals leads to difficulties in processing auditory cues and paying spatial attention to sound.
Results were released yesterday from the Pennsylvania Autism Needs Assessment, which includes feedback from 3,500 Pennsylvania caregivers and adults with autism, making it the largest study of its kind in the nation.
Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor: Finding May Have Implications for Rett Syndrome, Other Neurological DisordersPublished January 27, 2012 in Science Daily
Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University have discovered that a molecule critical to the development and plasticity of nerve cells — brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) — is severely lacking in brainstem neurons in mutations leading to Rett syndrome, a neurological developmental disorder.
Concerns that proposed changes to autism criteria in the upcoming Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) will exclude many individuals from diagnosis and treatment are unfounded, says the American Psychiatric Association (APA).
Researchers Use Workshops To Teach Job Skills And Learn More About Families With Children On The Autism SpectrumPublished January 11, 2012 in Medical News Today
Researchers at the University of Utah have created a program that helps kids with autism focus on building their skills and utilizing an aptitude for visual-spatial thinking, computers and other electronic media.
A new Vanderbilt study shows that the over-the-counter supplement melatonin is promising in helping children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and their families, sleep better.
Exploring the Social Impact of Being a Typical Peer Model for Included Children with Autism Spectrum DisorderPublished 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.
As a psychiatrist and the parent of an adult son with autism, I found In Treating Disabled, Potent Drugs and Few Rules (front page, Dec. 23) to be unfair and detrimental to the families of the developmentally disabled. Although any medication can be inappropriately administered, the wholesale denigration of psychotropic medication for this population is misplaced.
About half of newborns who have seizures go on to have long-term intellectual and memory deficits and cognitive disorders such as autism, but why this occurs has been unknown. In the December 14 Journal of Neuroscience, researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston detail how early-life seizures disrupt normal brain development, and show in a rat model that it might be possible to reverse this pathology by giving certain drugs soon after the seizure.
An autism treatment called applied behavior analysis, or ABA, has wide support and has grown into a profitable business. It has its limits, though, and there are gaps in the science.
A new center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will focus on unraveling the neuroscience behind social behaviors, helping to push forward research and, the scientists hope, to advance diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders.
Repetitive behaviors in adults with Autism Spectrum disorders significantly lessen with antidepressant treatmentPublished December 5, 2011 in MedicalXpress
Restricted, repetitive behavior, such as compulsive arranging and rigid adherence to routines, is a defining symptom of autism spectrum disorders. A 12-week study showed that the antidepressant fluoxetine produced a greater decrease in repetitive behaviors and more overall improvement than placebo in adults with autism spectrum disorders.
Non-verbal children with autism show structural differences in key language areas of the brain compared with controls, according to a poster presented Saturday at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
Loss of FMR1 function is the most common genetic cause of autism. Understanding how this gene works is vital to finding new treatments to help Fragile X patients and others…
The Institute for Basic Research in Staten Island is seeking adult participants for a new Fragile X treatment trial. This is a large scale trial of AFQ056 from Novartis for people aged 18-45 who have Fragile X. AFQ056 is an mGluR5 antagonist. The current study is just for adults but the next step is to extend the trial to ages 12-17. After completing the 20 week trial, participants will be offered the option of taking this medication free of charge until it comes to market.
Dr. Anjum Usman, of Naperville, has been a star in the world of alternative treatments for autism for years, but now she’s facing professional discipline for her approach to the frustrating disorder.According to the complaint, which was filed Wednesday, Usman “made statements to (the boy’s) mother that the prescribed treatments had positive clinical benefits for children with autism, despite the lack of empirical research.”
Five years ago, Philadelphia was not on the map when it came to researching one of the most mysterious and expensive childhood medical conditions of our time. Now it is among the top cities in the nation, with expertise in nearly all the key fields – genetics, environmental exposure, brain imaging, behavioral interventions – that are critical for finding causes and developing treatments. Most of the local talent is at the Center for Autism Research at Children’s Hospital, which in less than four years has grown into a powerhouse with more than 100 researchers and staff running two dozen studies.
A new strain of mice engineered to lack a gene with links to autism displays many of the hallmarks of the condition. It also responds to a drug in the same way as people with autism, which might open the way to new therapies for such people.
A primary characteristic of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is impairments in social-communication skills. Children and adolescents with social-communication problems face difficulty understanding, interacting and relating with others. University of Missouri researchers found that children who receive more intensive therapy to combat these impairments, especially at early ages, achieve the best outcomes.
Animal Model Research Could Lead To The Development Of Diagnostic Tests For Autism Based On BiomarkersPublished September 14, 2011 in Medical News Today
The first transgenic mouse model of a rare and severe type of autism called Timothy Syndrome is improving the scientific understanding of autism spectrum disorder in general and may help researchers design more targeted interventions and treatments.
Researchers have for the first time identified two biologically different strains of autism in a major breakthrough being compared with the discovery of different forms of cancer in the 1960s. The findings, to be announced at an international autism conference in Perth today, are seen as a key step towards understanding the causes of autism and developing effective treatments as well as a cure. The findings bring hope that the communication, socialization and other difficulties that autistic children experience can be tackled more easily and earlier.
This article addresses an important and barely researched topic: what happens to children with autism spectrum disorders when they grow old.
Researchers at the Center for Translational Social Neuroscience (CTSN) at Emory University are focusing on prairie voles as a new model to screen the effectiveness of drugs to treat autism. They are starting with D-cycloserine, a drug Emory researchers have shown enhances behavioral therapy for phobias and also promotes pair bonding among prairie voles. Giving female voles D-cycloserine, which is thought to facilitate learning and memory, can encourage them to bond with a new male more quickly than usual.
It seems that the place where your brain transfers electricity between synapses and how your genes determine how these processes function, are tied to autism in one way or another. There can be genetically driven disturbances in this process that lead to varying levels of autism according to a new study of DNA from approximately 1,000 autistic children and their kin.
A new study found that treatment-resistant epilepsy (TRE) is common in idiopathic autism. Early age at the onset of seizures and delayed global development were associated with a higher frequency of resistance to antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). Full findings appear online in Epilepsia, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE).
A new set of analyses offers sobering news in the long search for effective treatments for autism. Researchers concluded that medications are of little help to most autistic children. Although intensive behavioral therapies can be effective, they don’t work for everyone, and doctors don’t have a way to predict which children will benefit, according to three reviews in today’s Pediatrics.
Treatments Show Promise in Reducing Autism-related Behaviors, but Some have Significant Side EffectsPublished April 4, 2011 in Agency for Heathcare Research and Quality
Some medical and behavioral treatments show promise for reducing certain behaviors in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), but more research is needed to assess the potential benefits and harms, according to a new report funded by HHS’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The research results were published online in the journal Pediatrics.
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 […]
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 […]
Krishnaswami et al. Researchers at Vanderbilt University found that secretin, a medical treatment for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) that was popularized in the 1990s, is ineffective in the treatment of ASDs. Evidence from seven randomized controlled trials suggests that secretin does not effectively treat the symptoms of ASDs, which include language and communication impairment, symptom […]
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.
Simulated interactions in which adults with autism converse with a virtual partner may help them develop better social interaction skills, according to a novel study presented in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
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.
Research in computer graphics and computer vision tries to make using computers easier. We can find a more comfortable, intuitive and intelligent way to use the computer that feels like you’re talking to a friend. This could also help disabled people use computers the way everyone else does.
Children with autism spectrum disorders are better able to recognize faces, facial expressions and emotions with the help of an interactive computer program called FaceSay, according to newly published research from psychologists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Applied Behavior Analysis: Behavior Management of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders in Dental EnvironmentsPublished March 1, 2011 in Journal of the American Dental Association, Hernandez et al.
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 […]
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.
Touchstone Behavioral Health, a Phoenix-based treatment center that specializes in working with children has developed a virtual program that gives patients remote access to specialized autism treatment tools and allows therapists and patients to continue developing real-world life skills outside of traditional clinical environments.
Use of medical, mental health and case management services for young adults with an autism spectrum disorder appears to decline after high school, according to a report.
Researchers conducted a telephone survey to determine the rates of service use among young adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) during their first few years after high school. Rates of service ranged from 9.1% for speech therapy to 41.9% for case management. 39.1% of youths with an ASD represented by the survey received no services. […]
The first drug to treat the underlying disorder instead of the symptoms of Fragile X, the most common cause of inherited intellectual disability, shows some promise.
The International Center for Autism Research and Education (ICare4autism), a New York-based charity, announced plans to create the world’s first Global Autism Center on Mt. Scopus in Israel, dedicated to catalyzing breakthrough innovation in autism research and treatment. In a ceremony at Jerusalem’s City Hall hosted by Mayor Nir Barkat, ICare4autism’s President Joshua Weinstein signed an agreement paving the way for ICare4autism to acquire the campus of Bezalel Academy of Art in 2013, and convert it into a center.
Targeting the core social deficits of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in early intervention programs yielded sustained improvements in social and communication skills even in very young children who have ASD, according to a study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health.
Eastern Virginia Medical School researchers have identified a potential novel treatment strategy for the social impairment of people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), an aspect of the condition that has a profound impact on quality of life.
As the number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders continues to increase, the one thing that won't change is the need for those children to develop social skills. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri are developing an effective social competence curriculum, with a virtual classroom component, that could help educators meet the demand […]
A collaborative effort between researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the University of California, San Diego, successfully used human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells derived from patients with Rett syndrome to replicate autism in the lab and study the molecular pathogenesis of the disease.
A team from the University of California, San Diego, and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies devised a way to study brain cells from patients with autism, and found a way reverse cellular abnormalities in neurons that have been associated with autism, specifically Rett Syndrome.
A Model for Neural Development and Treatment of Rett Syndrome Using Human Induced Pluripotent Stem CellsPublished November 1, 2010 in Cell, Marchetto et al
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are complex neurodevelopmental diseases in which different combinations of genetic mutations may contribute to the phenotype. Using Rett syndrome (RTT) as an ASD genetic model, we recapitulate early stages of a human neurodevelopmental disease, using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from RTT patients' fibroblasts, which essentially creates a "disease in a […]
The last two decades have seen tremendous progress in understanding the genetic basis of human brain disorders. Research developments in this area have revealed fundamental insights into the genes and molecular pathways that underlie neurological and psychiatric diseases. In a new series of review articles, experts in the field discuss exciting recent advances in neurogenetics research and the potential implications for the treatment of these devastating disorders.
Researchers at the University of Utah (U of U) are one step closer to diagnosing autism using MRI, an advance that eventually could help health care providers identify the problem much earlier in children and lead to improved treatment and outcomes for those with the disorder.
A group of researchers at the University of Bristol have sequestered the potentially fatal breath holding episodes associated with the autistic-spectrum disorder Rett syndrome. Using a unique combination of drugs, they have discovered that the area of the brain that allows breathing to persist throughout life without interruption has reduced levels of a transmitter substance called aminobutyric acid.
Now research from Northwestern University suggests a new way of training that could reduce by at least half the effort previously thought necessary to make learning gains. They suggest combining periods of practice may alone be too brief to cause learning with periods of mere exposure to perceptual stimuli.
Researchers at the Center for Neuroscience Research at Children’s National Medical Center have discovered that the two major types of signaling pathways activated during brain cell development. This knowledge may help scientists design new ways to induce the brain to repair itself when these signals are interrupted, and indicate a need for further research to determine whether disruptions of these pathways in early brain development could lead to common neurodevelopmental disorders such as epilepsy, cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome, ADHD, and intellectual disabilities.
Parents of children with fragile X syndrome report that minocycline led to positive improvements in language, attention levels and behavior. They also report experiencing adverse side effects such as mild gastrointestinal issues and some increased irritability.
There is still much that is unknown about autism spectrum disorders, but a University of Nevada, Reno psychologist has added to the body of knowledge that researchers around the world are compiling to try to demystify, prevent and treat the mysterious condition.
The story of Matthew, a 9-year-old with Fragile X Syndrome, is one of the first patients on one of the first medications ever developed specifically to address the causes of an autism-like disorder. And at least for him it seems to be working.
Researchers at Emory University School of Medicine have identified a potential new strategy for treating fragile X syndrome — the most common inherited cause of intellectual disability. The researchers have found that a class of drugs called phosphoinositide-3 (PI3) kinase inhibitors can correct defects in the anatomy of neurons seen in a mouse model of fragile X syndrome.
Antidepressants commonly prescribed to people with autistic spectrum disorders cannot be recommended based on current evidence, a new study by Cochrane Researchers concludes. Despite some evidence of benefits in adults diagnosed with autism, they say there is no evidence for any benefits associated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in children, who may suffer serious adverse effects as a result of taking the drugs.
A product promoted to parents of children with autism is not a harmless dietary supplement, as claimed, but a toxic unapproved drug that lacks adequate warnings about potential side effects, including hair loss and abnormalities of the pancreas, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned in a letter to its maker.
In the first scientific illustration of exactly how some psychiatric illnesses might be linked to an immune system gone awry, researchers report they cured mice of an obsessive-compulsive condition known as “hair-pulling disorder” by tweaking the rodents’ immune systems.
Researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine have identified a drug that improves communication between nerve cells in a mouse model of Phelan-McDermid Syndrome (PMS). Behavioral symptoms of PMS fall under the autism spectrum disorder category.
Training parents to adapt communication to their child’s impairments doesn’t affect the child’s autism but does help the parent-child relationship, U.K. researchers find. The idea was that training parents to respond to their child’s specific communication needs would jump-start the child’s social development and improve the child’s general communication skills.
A popular belief that specific dietary changes can improve the symptoms of children with autism was not supported by a tightly controlled University of Rochester study, which found that eliminating gluten and casein from the diets of children with autism had no impact on their behavior, sleep or bowel patterns.
Researchers identified a rare genetic mutation that may open a new avenue for treating Tourette syndrome in a study published Wednesday that examined a family in which the father and all eight children suffer from the neurological disorder.The family’s mutation affected a gene required to produce histamine. Pharmaceutical companies are already developing drugs for other conditions that target the brain’s histamine system. The study’s researchers are planning a clinical trial of adults with Tourette to see if those drugs would help control the motor and vocal tics that characterize the condition.
A new study by researchers at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences’ Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology raises hope that autism may be more easily diagnosed and that its effects may be more reversible than previously thought. Researchers have identified potentially removable chemical tags (called “methyl groups”) on specific genes of autistic individuals that led to gene silencing. They also observed these changes in cells derived from blood, opening the way to molecular screening for autism using a blood test.
A new discovery raises hope that autism may be more easily diagnosed and that its effects may be more reversible than previously thought. In a new study appearing online in The FASEB Journal, scientists have identified a way to detect the disorder using blood and have discovered that drugs which affect the methylation state (“DNA tagging”) of genes could reverse autism’s effects. This type of drug is already being used in some cancer treatments.
Results of a randomized clinical trial found an innovative multi-component summer social development program to be effective in improving the social performance of children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders.
Moderators, Mediators,and Other Predictors of Risperidone Response in Children with Autistic Disorder and IrritabilityPublished April 1, 2010 in Journal of Childhood and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, Arnold et al
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Research Units on Pediatric Psychopharmacology (RUPP) Autism Network found an effect size of d = 1.2 in favor of risperidone on the main outcome measure in an 8-week double-blind, placebo-controlled trial for irritability in autistic disorder. This paper explores moderators and mediators of this effect. This study found […]
Scientists studying the anatomy of children’s brains during reading discovered something rather unexpected: Remedial training for poor readers results in a growth of white matter tracts in the brain, and the increase correlates with the level of improvement in sounding out words.
A genetic link between schizophrenia and autism is enabling researchers to study the effectiveness of drugs used to treat both illnesses. Dr. Steve Clapcote from the University of Leeds’s Faculty of Biological Sciences will be analyzing behavior displayed by mice with a genetic mutation linked to schizophrenia and autism and seeing how antipsychotic drugs affect their behavioral abnormalities.
When a gene implicated in human autism is disabled in mice, the rodents show learning problems and obsessive, repetitive behaviors, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found. The researchers also report that a drug affecting a specific type of nerve function reduced the obsessive behavior in the animals, suggesting a potential way to treat repetitive behaviors in humans
At a Feb. 20 press briefing held during the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting, a Northwestern University neuroscientist argued that music training has profound effects that shape the sensory system and should be a mainstay of K-12 education. Kraus presented her own research and the research of other neuroscientists suggesting music education can be an effective strategy in helping typically developing children as well as children with developmental dyslexia or autism more accurately encode speech.
Autism is a disease characterized by difficulties in communicating effectively with other people and developing social relationships. A team led by Angela Sirigu at the Centre de Neuroscience Cognitive (CNRS) has shown that the inhalation of oxytocin, a hormone known to promote mother-infant bonds and social relationships, significantly improved the abilities of autistic patients to interact with other individuals.
Alison Singer says link between autism, vaccinations debunked but research progressing. But, she says, new science is overshadowed as some cling to discredited study. Some parents put kids in danger by still avoiding vaccines, trying dicey “therapies”. New research should move forward with science as a guide.
An industrial chemical developed to help separate heavy metals from polluted soil and mining drainage is being sold as a dietary supplement by a luminary in the world of alternative autism treatments. Called OSR#1, the supplement is described on its Web site as an antioxidant not meant to treat any disease. But the site lists pharmacies and doctors who sell it to parents of children with autism, and the compound has been promoted to parents on popular autism Web sites. A search of medical journals unearthed no papers published about OSR#1, though the compound’s industrial uses have been explored in publications such as the Journal of Hazardous Materials.
Putting a human face on a cartoon train, bus or tram proved to help children with autism understand emotions. The head of the University of Cambridge’s Autism Research Centre, Simon Baron-Cohen, conducted a study using a series of 15 animated stories called The Transporters. Each episode focused on a different emotion – from simple ones such as happy, sad and angry to more complex emotions such as sorry, ashamed, tired and joking. The findings showed children with autism spectrum conditions had improved emotion recognition after watching the 3D program for 15 minutes a day over a month.
Randomized, Controlled, Trial of an Intervention for Toddlers with Autism: The Early Start Denver ModelPublished January 1, 2010 in Pediatrics, Dawson, Rogers, Munson, Smith, Winter, Greeson, Donaldson, and Varley
The first randomized, controlled trial to demonstrate the efficacy of a comprehensive developmental behavioral intervention for toddlers with ASD for improving cognitive and adaptive behavior and reducing severity of ASD diagnosis. Results of this study underscore the importance of early detection of and intervention in autism.
Doctors say they can understand why patients sympathize with celebrities and closely follow their battles with serious illnesses. It helps to know that health problems can even affect celebrities. Yet celebrities who can command huge audiences and sell thousands of books have a special responsibility to get their facts right, says Bradford Hesse, who studies health communication at the National Cancer Institute. Many doctors say they’re troubled by stars who cross the line from sharing their stories to championing questionable or even dangerous medical advice.
Children with poor reading skills who underwent an intensive, six-month training program to improve their reading ability showed increased connectivity in a particular brain region, in addition to making significant gains in reading, according to a study funded in part by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
A novel early intervention program for very young children with autism — some as young as 18 months — is effective for improving IQ, language ability and social interaction, a comprehensive new study has found.
Parents often swear their children with autism get better while they are undergoing alternative therapies. Pitches from doctors providing alternative treatments are difficult to resist, he said. But in evaluating a therapy, the challenge is determining how much, if any, of the progress can be credited to the treatment. Some parents are beginning to realize […]
Dr. Carlos Pardo, a Johns Hopkins neurologist, and his colleagues autopsied the brains of people with autism who died in accidents and found evidence of neuroinflammation. This rare look inside the autistic brain had the potential to increase understanding of the mysterious disorder. He knew it could also inspire doctors aiming to help children recover […]
Thousands of U.S. children undergo these therapies and many more at the urging of physicians who say they can successfully treat, or "recover," children with autism, a disorder most physicians and scientists say they cannot yet explain or cure. But after reviewing thousands of pages of court documents and scientific studies and interviewing top researchers […]
Paul Offit, award-winning 58-year-old scientist, is hated for his opinion on vaccination. He boldly states in speeches, in journal articles, and in his 2008 book Autisms False Prophets that vaccines do not cause autism or autoimmune disease or any of the other chronic conditions that have been blamed on them. He supports this assertion with meticulous evidence. And he calls to account those who promote bogus treatments for autism treatments that he says not only dont work but often cause harm.
Scientific understanding and medical treatments for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) have advanced significantly over the past several years, but much remains to be done, say experts from the Center for Autism Research at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who recently published a scientific review of the field.
An international consortium of researchers, including three from the University of Utah, has discovered yet another genetic link to autism. Studying the genes of more than 1,000 families — including 150 from Utah — who have more than one person with the disorder, the researchers found a region on chromosome 5 that is strongly associated with autism.
Autism Science Foundation president Alison Singer is well known in the autism community for her formative role at Autism Speaks, for her controversial participation in their Autism Every Day video, and for leaving Autism Speaks to found the Autism Science Foundation.She a role model for autism parents struggling to balance advocacy with positivity and work with family, especially those who tirelessly investigate ways to help our children lead fulfilling lives, actively respect neurodiversity, and continue to educate ourselves and others about autism perspectives and attitudes. Read on to learn about the founding and goals of the Autism Science Foundation.
About 1 in 100 8-year-old children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers who will be releasing details of their study later this year. The rate — significantly higher than the government’s 2007 estimate of 1 in 150.
The federal government will provide nearly twice as much funding for autism research in the upcoming fiscal year as we had just three years ago. President Obama has made autism a focus from the first days of his presidency in hopes to counterbalance some of the new challenges Autism has created for for families, schools, and health care providers.
Lack of Efficacy of Citalopram in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders and High Levels of Repetitive BehaviorPublished June 1, 2009 in Archives of General Psychiatry, King, Hollander, Sikich, McCracken, Scahill, Bregman, Donnelly, Anagnostou, Dukes, Sullivan, Hirtz, Wagner, Louise Ritz; for the STAART Psychopharmacology Network
Citalopram (Celexa), a medication commonly prescribed to children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), was no more effective than a placebo at reducing repetitive behaviors, according to a multi-site clinical trial guided by lead author Bryan King, MD, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Seattle Children's Hospital and professor and vice chair of psychiatry at […]
In three new studies — including one appearing in the Public Library of Science – Biology (PLoS – Biology) — UC Davis researchers provide compelling evidence of how low levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) alter the way brain cells develop. The findings could explain at last — some 30 years after the toxic chemicals were […]
Rett Syndrome (RTT) is a severe form of X-linked mental retardation caused by mutations in the gene coding for methyl CpG-binding protein 2 (MECP2). Mice deficient in MeCP2 have a range of physiological and neurological abnormalities that mimic the human syndrome. Here we show that systemic treatment of MeCP2 mutant mice with an active peptide […]
Although Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are generally assumed to be lifelong, we review evidence that between 3% and 25% of children reportedly lose their ASD diagnosis and enter the normal range of cognitive, adaptive and social skills. Predictors of recovery include relatively high intelligence, receptive language, verbal and motor imitation, and motor development, but not […]
Tuberous sclerosis is a single-gene disorder caused by heterozygous mutations in the TSC1 (9q34) or TSC2 (16p13.3) gene and is frequently associated with mental retardation, autism and epilepsy. Even individuals with tuberous sclerosis and a normal intelligence quotient (approximately 50%) are commonly affected with specific neuropsychological problems, including long-term and working memory deficits. Here we […]
One proposed cause of ASD is exposure of the fetal brain to maternal autoantibodies during pregnancy [Dalton, P., Deacon, R., Blamire, A., Pike, M., McKinlay, I., Stein, J., Styles, P., Vincent, A., 2003. Maternal neuronal antibodies associated with autism and a language disorder. Ann. Neurol. 53, 533-537]. To provide evidence for this hypothesis, four rhesus […]
Fragile X is a synapsopathy–a disorder of synaptic function and plasticity. Recent studies using mouse models of the disease suggest that the critical defect is altered regulation of synaptic protein synthesis. Various strategies to restore balanced synaptic protein synthesis have been remarkably successful in correcting widely varied mutant phenotypes in mice. Insights gained by the […]
Parents of autistic children should be reassured that autism in their child did not occur through immunizations. Their autistic children, and their siblings, should be normally vaccinated, and as there is no evidence of mercury poisoning in autism, they should avoid ineffective and dangerous “treatments” such as chelation therapy for their children.