People with autism are less likely to be physically active and more likely to be sedentary. A number of studies have looked into different physical activities, both group based and individually, on improvements in health as well as core features of autism, and most have had positive results. New animal model research demonstrates a benefit of exercise using the maternal immune activation model of ASD, pruning back the excess of connections and cell fibers. As people with autism also have too many connections in the brain, this may have a direct therapeutic benefit. But besides all the scientific conjecture, we all need more exercise, physical activity interventions seem to only help, not hurt, people across the spectrum, and should be used to complement, not replace existing therapies. Listen to the podcast here.
Everyone knows the way to study infants with autism is through thorough testing of younger siblings of those with a diagnosis, who have a 15x greater chance of have a diagnosis themselves. Through these methods, new ways of identifying and predicting autism later on have been developed. On this week’s podcast: two very influential and recent papers on the study of motor issues in 6 month olds who go on to be diagnosed with autism, and those who don’t have an autism diagnosis but have signs and symptoms of ASD. Are motor issues related to an ASD diagnosis or ASD symptoms? And what about core symptoms of autism like language? Can early motor behaviors be used to predict who goes on to receive an autism diagnosis or has language problems? What should parents do? How should this influence an early intervention plan? Listen to the podcast here.