Podcast: Just Listen to Nancy Reagan – Say NO to MDMA
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.
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 Iadarola and his wife, Jennifer Katz, reflect on his dedication and commitment to families of all ages. He will be missed.
By Meghan Miller, PhD
More and more, researchers and clinicians are thinking about how advances in technology can be leveraged for interventions for children with autism. Tablets, computers, and video games have become increasingly available to children in their daily lives. At the same time, the American Academy of Pediatrics has put forth clear screen time guidelines for children, and many parents worry about their children spending too much time in front of a screen or with devices.
In the autism field, technology is providing promising avenues for early detection and intervention. For example, a recent study describes the use of mobile technology to screen for autism in young children. Others have developed apps and virtual reality systems through which treatments can be delivered. But what good are advances in technology-based interventions if parents aren’t interested in utilizing them?
Researchers at the UC Davis MIND Institute on the UC Davis Medical Center campus in Sacramento are conducting a study of parental perceptions of use of technology in treatment of impulsivity in 4 to 7-year-olds with autism spectrum disorder. Parents of 4 to 7-year-old children who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can participate. Families can expect to complete of several online questionnaires about: Your family, your opinions about technology in treatment, and your child’s behavior. These questionnaires will take about 10 minutes of your time.
ASF is proud to announce continued support for the Baby Siblings Research Consortium (BSRC), a network of over 33 research sites around the world studying the younger siblings of people with autism. The Baby Sibs database now tracks over 5,000 younger siblings, with and without autism. The database has been used to develop more sophisticated screening and diagnostic approaches, to understand early biological features of ASD even before symptoms develop, and to inform clinicians of early treatment targets. The additional funding will allow researchers to continue submitting information to expand data points so that a deeper understanding of development across the lifespan can be made. ASF support will also allow scientists to collaborate on key issues like early biological testing and searching for biomarkers of ASD.
On this week’s podcast, Dr. Alycia Halladay overviews three recent studies, including one done in collaboration with the Autism Treatment Network, looking at how sleep problems impact the behavior and functioning of individuals with autism across the spectrum.
On this week’s podcast, Dr. Alycia Halladay overviews three new studies looking at commonly used drugs that may help autism not just by improving behavior, but also by how they impact the brain. Plus, a fun study about social media.