This week’s podcast is dedicated to the “T” in LGBTQ – trans. Several studies over the past few years have linked higher rates of gender variance in people with autism and higher rates of autism traits in those who are trans. Why? Are they biologically or psychologically linked or both? This is important for understanding, not treatment or intervention. This week’s podcast celebrates trans people who are also autistic.
A new animal model of autism appeared this week: the monkey. This adds to the ever growing list of different model systems from autism, from fruit flies to mice and rats now up to monkeys. Are these animal models useful and for what, and why isn’t there just ONE model of autism rather than the dozen that exist? This week’s podcast discusses research from scientists at the UC Davis MIND Institute and what they are doing to improve these models of ASD.
Females with autism are different than males with autism in a lot of ways. This week, researchers used twins to examine the differences between males and females with autism in their brain structure and how it’s associated with autism traits, not a diagnosis. To do this, researchers in Sweden turned to twins. As it turns out, females have more of a diversity of differences in brain changes compared to boys, supporting the female protective effect. But how to females with autism feel? As them! A group in the UK interviewed over 20 women on the spectrum or their parents to find out what concerns them most and what they find most challenging. Listen to the podcast here.
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.
The goal of the Autism Sisters Project is to build a large genetic database that researchers can use to explore the sex difference in autism diagnoses between boys and girls and discover how the potential protective factor, known as the female protective effect, can be harnessed to help people with autism of both sexes. NBC New York spoke with the Mullers, a family participating in the study, as well as with ASF Chief Science Officer Dr. Alycia Halladay and the Seaver Autism Center team at Mount Sinai in New York. You can watch the news clip here.