Podcast: Uncovering the digital underground

Digital therapeutics may very helpful in helping families and individuals on the spectrum. What are they? How can they be used? This week’s #ASFpodcast talks to Lani Hessen from the Digital Therapeutics Alliance who is holding a summit this week in Washington DC. There is technology that is already used to help those on the spectrum, and those that can be easily adapted or implemented in those with a diagnosis or their families. We want to hear about YOUR experience with digital technologies. Tell us more in the comments.


With just a few weeks to go until June, this week’s podcast is a short summary of the prevalence of transsexuality in the autism community and how many people are autistic in the trans community. More importantly, there are guidelines about the identification and care for those who have these co-occurring conditions. The references mentioned are below:






Last week in Stockholm, Sweden, 2200 researchers and scientists working to understand and help those on the spectrum, met to share their most recent findings and exchange ideas. What were the main takeaways as ASF saw them? In our latest podcast episode, we cover why some autistic people don’t want genetics to be studied, how to better engage families with IDD and who are non-speaking, females, adults, international studies and yes, diversity. The program book was released a day before the meeting and can be found here: https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.autism-insar.org/resource/resmgr/docs/annualmeeting/insar2023_program_book.pdf

The title gets you, right? Well, on this week’s podcast we report on a new study that examines epigenetic profiles of sperm and how they related to child outcomes. Do some of the marks on bio-dad’s sperm match to those found in kids with ASD? what about genes related to autism? Also, can parents be good proxies of their child’s intellectual ability? For the most part yes, but sometimes they tend to overestimate this ability. This means they are good, but not perfect reporters. How could they be if the child has a severe intellectual disability?



On this week’s podcast, we conduct an interview with Michelle Hughes, PhD, epidemiologist with the CDC, who answers all of our questions about how many people have autism, how they are counted, what has changed since the last count and why the CDC are counting more kids than they were 10 years ago.

You can read more about her here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michellemergler/

Here is a link to the 8 year old counting study: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36952288/

Here is the follow up to when they turned 16: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36849336/

In this week’s podcast, we talk to Whitney Guthrie from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who spent the last 6 years conducting the gold-standard randomized control trial that demonstrates intervention for social communication skills at 18 months shows greater effects than intervention starting at 27 months. If you wanted evidence that earlier is better, here it is! Interventions and supports are important at any age, but the critical window of development between 18-27 months is particularly important for long term development.


What do anxiety, prevalence, ketamine, other neurodevelopmental disorders, siblings, genetics, brain imaging and the autistic researcher committee at INSAR all have in common? They were all topics at the last Day of Learning. You can hear a 20 minute summary of the talks on this week’s ASFpodcast.

The CDC released data from the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network (ADDM) on Thursday. In the past 2 years, the prevalence of autism has increased about 20%. Why? Are there more new cases or is diagnostic practices improving? For 20 years there has been fewer Black and Hispanic kids diagnosed. Is that still the case? Listen to this week’s #ASFpodcast to hear some early thoughts, the CDC will join us for an interview on April 20th:



TikTok is overtaking the internet and many are using this platform to learn about a variety of psychiatric illnesses and psychological problems. But how accurate are these videos in sharing medical information? Could they be causing things like tics? Do they influence individuals to self-diagnose and cause mis-diagnosis? There is a new phenomenon labeled “munchausen by internet”, and while some of the videos might be helpful in raising awareness, others are just spreading lies and causing psychiatric problems. In other words: be careful about TikTok. If a social media platform shares videos that tell you to eat laundry detergent, maybe you should not listen to everything they say. Listen to this week’s podcast here.



Screening for autism is meant to cast a broad net to gather those who show enough features to be included for a full diagnostic evaluation. The most common of these tools is the MCHAT – the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers. An author of the MCHAT, Diana Robins, and a colleague, Andrea Wieckowski and others gathered over 50 studies (English and other languages) in different types of samples (high likelihood and low likelihood) to determine how the MCHAT was doing in terms of finding infants with autism as well as excluding those without autism. It also touched on how well primary care doctors were doing in administering this tool. If you want to see the MCHAT for yourself or take it for your child, there is a FREE website, click here: https://mchatscreen.com Listen to the podcast here.

To read the paper, click here: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36804771/