You may have heard the news: The prevalence of autism is 1:40 according to an email survey of parents. However, there’s more information in the study that’s worthy of consideration: The high rate of unmet mental health needs in those with ASD. Learn more on the ASF podcast. Read more about the study.
People with autism have higher levels of GI problems than people without a diagnosis, and the microbiome is associated with GI function. So, is the microbiome linked to autism? Some studies say yes, but this week, studies in China look at non-caucasian people with a different diet. Do the differences still hold? Also, while GI symptoms have been studied in relation to core autism features, they have not yet been linked to psychiatric issues like anxiety, ADHD, and aggression. Until now, thanks to Raphael Bernier and Sara Jane Webb and their team at the University of Washington who addressed this very issue. This week’s podcast features three new studies looking at GI issues, and the causes of those issues, in kids with autism. Listen to the podcast here.
While diagnosis before 3 years of age is ideal, circumstances may not always allow the earliest identification and diagnosis. This week’s podcast explores two of the reasons why diagnosis is not always possible before age 3. One is a study from Denmark and one is from members of the Baby Siblings Research Consortium.
A new study from the ASF-supported Baby Siblings Research Consortium explains why a few kids with autism do not receive a formal diagnosis until 5 years or later. Read more here.
In Scientific American, ASF CSO Dr. Alycia Halladay discusses how autism research gets covered and suggests way to improve the reporting to make sure the news that goes around is legitimate and significant. Read the op-ed here.
Dr. Inna Fishman from San Diego State University explains how findings from brain tissue helps scientists interpret data which studies how brain regions connect to each other and why this is important for understanding autism subgroups. Also, researchers from the Karolinska Institutet examine ADHD diagnosed in adults, and find it is similar to autism. Listen to the podcast here.
This week, Dr. Mark Shen from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill explains new findings looking at the fluid around the brain. It’s now seen in families even without a family history of ASD, the finding has now been seen in different independent studies, including those at the UC Davis MIND Institute in California, it might be a diagnostic biomarker of ASD, and it also might help explain sleep problems. Hear more on this week’s podcast.
Today, ASF announced that it will be leading the newly-launched Alliance for Genetic Etiologies of Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Autism (AGENDA). This alliance is a partnership of research and advocacy organizations focused on improving outcomes of individuals with all forms of autism by fostering a genetics-first approach to autism science. AGENDA will also work to strengthen collaborations among organizations representing genetically-defined disorders associated with autism. As part of its collaborative activities, today AGENDA launched a new online portal that will make it easier for researchers to investigate different forms of autism. Clinicians, basic scientists, industry, and multiple end users of this information were consulted on the development of the portal, which along with contact information to access the data in each registry, can be found here.
This podcast is dedicated to siblings of people with autism who are typically developing. They play an important and beneficial role in development of socialization of those with ASD. But sadly, they also have issues of their own, such as a high rate of issues like anxiety and depression. Those siblings may be genetic carries of a specific mutation and not have an autism diagnosis, but have increased risk for schizophrenia and cognitive disability. Finally, just because they are considered “typically developing” doesn’t mean they don’t have challenges with adaptive behavior. However, they have a very special relationship with their brothers and sisters, and the world needs these strong advocates for the community.
Recently, Clare Harrop from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill published two papers which help explain the differences between boys and girls with autism, at least in kids and toddlers. She graciously agreed to talk with ASF about these findings and what it means for better identification and diagnosis of girls with ASD, and where future research is needed, for this week’s podcast. Thank you to Dr. Harrop for this insight and for your work in this area!
This week’s ASF podcast focuses on how co-occuring conditions with autism, like anxiety, depression, and OCD, have changed over time. The increase in these conditions may help in defining different subgroups of autism. Listen on asfpodcast.org or on your favorite podcatcher!
This week’s podcast begins with a comment on the debate over ABA – helpful or harmful? But the big news this week is an analysis of very early, but very published, data on the use of MDMA, also known as “ecstasy” or “Molly”, in people with autism. Called an “empathogen”, MDMA can elicit feelings of warmth, love, and need to cuddle. However, it has a dark side. MDMA is a neurotoxin. It kills serotonergic brain cells. There is no known safe dose. Researchers studied and found weak evidence that it reduces social anxiety in people with autism. Social anxiety isn’t a core symptom of autism. Thank you to Dr. Larry Scahill of Emory University who provided an expert description of each condition. While ASF will not comment on every negative study out there, this one is worth noting.
When someone offers you MDMA, JUST SAY NO.