This week two groups of heroes of autism research published studies that may not be the type of major breakthrough that the media reports on, but they are more important to families: These studies help translate what works in the research clinic into the community. Specifically, is it even possible, how, and what do families need to know when they receive an intervention that has yet to be “field tested”. This is a whole field of research called implementation science, and it deals with how scientists and community services implement what is learned in research settings into real world settings. Listen to the podcast here.
This week’s podcast includes a summary of the new study, this time in an animal model, looking at microbiome transplantation. Because this was more of an experimental model, the researchers could be more rigorous in their design and look at things like behavior, brain activity, and specific biological pathways. While a mouse does not have autism, transplantation of the autism microbiome resulted in autistic-like behaviors. Second, a hopeful message of the value of participating in research on outcomes – those infants that were tracked prospectively showed improved outcomes later on, suggesting that all of the extra attention they get leads to a reduction in symptoms and an improvement in adaptive behavior. Even if you do not have a family history of autism – participate in research. It’s good for your child, and it’s good for other people’s children. Listen to the podcast here.
This week’s podcast combines two important post Mother’s Day topics – parents and eating. Two recent studies have shown the promise of using parent – delivered interventions to help improve food selectivity and food aversions in kids with autism. These two behaviors can be one of the most frustrating and challenging for parents and kids, and can lead to nutritional deficiencies. These behaviors can range from mild to severe, and previously, only inpatient or outpatient clinic based approaches seemed to have any benefit. Now it seems that with coaching, encouragement and instruction from trained experts, parents can help their kids eat better foods. Listen to the podcast here.
You may have heard on the internet that a new “radical” treatment leads to a “50% reduction” in autism symptoms. This radical treatment is fecal transplants, which is taking the bacteria from the feces from one person and putting them in another person. This is a still experimental treatment, and while the microbiome should be researched more in regards to its relationship to autism, there might be a less invasive way to alter the microbiome which could stand up to the rigor of a well designed trial. Also this week, new prevalence data on 4 year olds across multiple years. Did it change across time, and is it different from 8 year olds, and why is this difference important? 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.
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 podcast includes two important studies which examine early influences of language development. First, we are lucky that Dr. Aaron Shield from Miami University joined to explain why studying children who are deaf and have autism, as well as parents of deaf children, are important for understanding language development. He explores how autism is different and the same in those who are and are not deaf. Second, study of very early speech, even before language emerges, may help guide speech and language therapists about how they should be dividing their time in therapy in toddlers, especially those with a high probability of developing ASD. Thank you to both Drs. Shield and Chenausky for sharing their findings with us!