What's New

Autism risk gene linked to differences in brain structure - Healthy individuals who carry a gene variation linked to an increased risk of autism have structural differences in their brains that may help explain how the gene affects brain function and increases vulnerability for autism. The results of this innovative brain imaging study are described in an article in the groundbreaking neuroscience journal Brain Connectivity, a bimonthly peer-reviewed publication from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc (http://wwwliebertpub.com). The article is available free online at the Brain Connectivity (http://www.liebertpub.com/brain) website.

Mouse Model Provides Clues to Autism - Vanderbilt scientists report that a disruption in serotonin transmission in the brain may be a contributing factor for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other behavioral conditions.  Serotonin is a brain chemical neurotransmitter that carries signals across the synapse, or gap between nerve cells. The supply of serotonin is regulated by the serotonin transporter (SERT).

Autism and parenting: Don't be afraid to ask for help - The news of the Sunnyvale mother who shot her autistic son before turning the gun on herself has shocked and saddened the autism community, but sadly, the story is similar to others in the past few years. I recently talked to Peter Finch of KGO Radio about the latest tragedy. What advice would you give to parents of young children, he asked, to manage the stress of raising a child with autism? Here you go...

Excerpt: 'Carly's Voice' - As I've said, Tammy is a news junkie. For her, news is something to be scoured over, clipped, and responded to. One Sunday in late January 2008, she was reading an article in The New York Times about girls with autism. The article explained that not only was the incidence of the disorder lower among girls than boys, there were unique aspects and abilities among females with autism.  Unlike boys, the research noted, girls may have a greater sense of empathy and emotion, a concept known as "theory of mind."  "So this could explain why Carly seems so different from some of the other kids we know with autism," she said. "They're all boys."

Autistic Man Free Falls on YouTube to End Bullying - A New York autism advocate has launched a nationwide campaign with a YouTube video that shows him free-falling from the sky to call for an end to bullying.  Jesse Saperstein, who has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism, has suffered bullying from peers since he was a child in school.

Identification Of Gene Expression Abnormalities In Autism - A study led by Eric Courchesne, PhD, director of the Autism Center of Excellence at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine has, for the first time, identified in young autism patients genetic mechanisms involved in abnormal early brain development and overgrowth that occurs in the disorder. The findings suggest novel genetic and molecular targets that could lead to discoveries of new prevention strategies and treatment for the disorder.

Social Deficits in Autism Linked to 'Mirror Neuron' System - Emerging research implicates a particular brain system for the social deficits commonly found in autism.  Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are characterized by impaired social functioning. Researchers have now, through use of transcranial magnetic stimulation, gained knowledge on how the “mirror neuron” system is linked to impairments found in autism.

Discovery Of Biomarkers For Autism Could Lead To Diagnostic Test - An important step towards developing a rapid, inexpensive diagnostic method for autism has been taken by Uppsala University, among other universities. Through advanced mass spectrometry the researchers managed to capture promising biomarkers from a tiny blood sample. The study has just been published in the prestigious journal Nature Translational Psychiatry.

A Greater Ability To Process Information Draws People With Autism To IT - People with autism have a greater than normal capacity for processing information even from rapid presentations and are better able to detect information defined as 'critical', according to a study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology. The research, funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Economic and Social Research Council, may help to explain the apparently higher than average prevalence of people with autism spectrum disorders in the IT industry.


 

Identification Of Gene Expression Abnormalities In Autism - A study led by Eric Courchesne, PhD, director of the Autism Center of Excellence at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine has, for the first time, identified in young autism patients genetic mechanisms involved in abnormal early brain development and overgrowth that occurs in the disorder. The findings suggest novel genetic and molecular targets that could lead to discoveries of new prevention strategies and treatment for the disorder.

People With Autism Possess Greater Ability to Process Information, Study Suggests - People with autism have a greater than normal capacity for processing information even from rapid presentations and are better able to detect information defined as 'critical', according to a study published March 22 in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology. The research may help to explain the apparently higher than average prevalence of people with autism spectrum disorders in the IT industry.

New Brain Imaging and Computer Modeling Predicts Autistic Brain Activity and Behavior - New research from Carnegie Mellon University's Marcel Just provides an explanation for some of autism's mysteries -- from social and communication disorders to restricted interests -- and gives scientists clear targets for developing intervention and treatment therapies.

'Could My Child Have Autism?' Ten Signs of Possible Autism-Related Delays in 6 To 12-Month-Old Children - Though autism is often not diagnosed until the age of three, some children begin to show signs of developmental delay before they turn a year old. While not all infants and toddlers with delays will develop autism spectrum disorders (ASD), experts point to early detection of these signs as key to capitalizing on early diagnosis and intervention, which is believed to improve developmental outcomes.

Biomarkers for Autism Discovered - An important step towards developing a rapid, inexpensive diagnostic method for autism has been take by Uppsala University, among other universities. Through advanced mass spectrometry the researchers managed to capture promising biomarkers from a tiny blood sample.

Gene Expression Abnormalities in Autism Identified - Genetic studies find dysregulation in pathways that govern development of the prefrontal cortex in young patients with autism.

Autism Risk Gene Linked to Differences in Brain Structure - Healthy individuals who carry a gene variation linked to an increased risk of autism have structural differences in their brains that may help explain how the gene affects brain function and increases vulnerability for autism. The results of this innovative brain imaging study are described in an article in the groundbreaking neuroscience journal Brain Connectivity, a bimonthly peer-reviewed publication from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. The article is available free online at the Brain Connectivity website.

Potential Role of Parents' Work Exposures in Autism Risk Examined: Possible Link Between Some Work Exposures and Risk for Offspring - Could parental exposure to solvents at work be linked to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in their children? According to an exploratory study by Erin McCanlies, a research epidemiologist from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and colleagues, such exposures could play a role, but more research would be needed to confirm an association.

Autism: Don't Look Now -- I'm Trying to Think - Children with autism look away from faces when thinking, especially about challenging material, according to new research from Northumbria University.

Holding a Mirror to Brain Changes in Autism - Impaired social function is a cardinal symptom of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). One of the brain circuits that enable us to relate to other people is the "mirror neuron" system. This brain circuit is activated when we watch other people, and allows our brains to represent the actions of others, influencing our ability to learn new tasks and to understand the intentions and experiences of other people.

When One Side Does Not Know About the Other One: Specialization and Cooperation of the Brain Hemispheres - Whenever we are doing something, one of our brain hemispheres is more active than the other one. However, some tasks are only solvable with both sides working together. PD Dr. Martina Manns and Juliane Römling of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum are investigating, how such specializations and co-operations arise. Based on a pigeon-model, they are demonstrating for the first time in an experimental way, that the ability to combine complex impressions from both hemispheres, depends on environmental factors in the embryonic stage.

In What Ways Does Lead Damage the Brain? It Derails the Brain's Center for Learning - Exposure to lead wreaks havoc in the brain, with consequences that include lower IQ and reduced potential for learning. But the precise mechanism by which lead alters nerve cells in the brain has largely remained unknown.

Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet May Help Some Children With Autism, Research Suggests - A gluten-free, casein-free diet may lead to improvements in behavior and physiological symptoms in some children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to researchers at Penn State. The research is the first to use survey data from parents to document the effectiveness of a gluten-free, casein-free diet on children with ASD.

Eden Autism Services opens $8 million home for school and headquarters - The walls of the new Eden Autism Services school are painted pastel green and blue, and large windows fill the rooms with natural light. Quotes from the popular Dr. Seuss children’s book, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” line the hallways.  The $8 million, 30,000-square-foot building in Plainsboro Township’s Princeton Forrestal Village is Eden’s new school for children and adolescents, aged 3-21, who live with autism.


Autism High School Students meet Autistic Adults' Outreach: Dec 10 - Yesterday afternoon, 12 autistic High School Students and 5 staff members met with 5 successful autistic adults at the ANCA Location. What a great time was had by all, lots of interest in ANCA’s international autism outreach programs such as the recent 2011 INAP Awards Convention and the upcoming 2012 three day event!

Autism Frequently Missed in Children With Epilepsy - Despite problems, many children with epilepsy are not evaluated for autism or developmental delay. "Systematic screening should be routine for all children seen in epilepsy clinics," Anne Berg, PhD, from Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, told reporters attending a news conference here at the American Epilepsy Society (AES) 65th Annual Meeting. In a study presented here, the investigators tracked children younger than 5 years seen at an epilepsy monitoring unit and a ketogenic diet clinic for about half a year. They asked parents of the 44 children to complete the Ages and Stages Questionnaire, as well as an autism screening tool.

Living Life With Autism II: Perspectives - Given the number of comments and emails generated by last month’s article, revisiting the discussion, from a different place, was important. The fact that adults with autism were not included in the original article was a shortcoming of the piece, but it was also an interesting barometer of the situation in the U.S. As Landon Bryce, an autistic educator, pointed out to me on the phone, “to publish an article without talking to people with autism…what were you thinking? On the other hand, it’s the norm!”

Autistic Children with Epilepsy are Often Sensitive to Light - For about 3% of the three million Americans with epilepsy, exposure to flashing lights at certain intensities or to certain visual patterns can trigger seizures. However, when epilepsy is combined with autism, researchers have found photosensitivity to be much more common.  Epilepsy is common in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Nearly a third of patients with an ASD have epileptic seizures. Recently, the American Epilepsy Society was presented with a recommendation that children who present to epilepsy clinics for treatment of seizures also be routinely screened for signs of autism and other developmental delays.


 

Fetal Exposure to Epilepsy Drug Might Raise Autism Risk: Study / Danish researchers found it almost tripled chances of autism spectrum disorder, although risk remains small - hildren exposed to the epilepsy drug valproate have a nearly three times higher risk of having an autism spectrum disorder, new research finds. Researchers in Denmark used national birth data that included nearly 656,000 children born in that country between 1996 and 2006 to 428,000 women. Using a national prescription drug registry, they identified women who had filled a prescription for valproate (Depakote) shortly before pregnancy through the day of the child's birth.
 

The Biological Causes of Autism / Working with mice, MIT researchers found that a rare disease on the autism spectrum is caused by the exact opposite of another autism disease, further complicating study of the condition - The biological causes of autism have been a source of inquiry and debate for half a century. The wide range of cognitive and social deficits that are diagnosed as autism spectrum disorders are often quite disabling, so there is an urgent desire to find treatments. Now, scientists are beginning to discover that not all autism-related disorders are alike. They appear to have different implications for brain function and, consequently, treatment.

Autistic photgrapher shows his work of autism- During the month of December, YES Art Works will present a group exhibit in the Speers Gallery at the Kennebunk Free Library. YES Art Works encompasses all of the arts at Creative Work Systems, a nonprofit organization providing services to adults with disabilities. They provide an array of creative opportunities where unique talents can flourish, cultivating pride, confidence and further independence as working adults. Studios in Portland, Saco, and Auburn provide artists with the tools they need to explore their creativity in multiple mediums and techniques, including, drawing, painting, printmaking, weaving, fiber arts, woodworking, ceramics, and sculpture. Yes Art Works also connects artists with galleries and local businesses for exhibit opportunities.

Autism author launches new non-profit - "Madelena jumped out of bed and ran downstairs," read Mauro DiVieste.  And so begins the story of a little girl named Madelena and her big brother, Mikey. "It's a fictional story based on our true life events," said DiVieste. My daughter Madelena is going to show and tell, and she tells her class about what it's like to live with an autistic brother."  That character is based on a nine-year-old named Mikey. He has autism and he's non-verbal.


Prozac shown to help adults with autism - For first time in study, drug shown to produce improvement in functioning, decrease in repetitive behaviors in autistic adults.
The antidepressant drug fluoxetine – best known to the public as Prozac – has been shown for the first time in a study to produce an improvement in the functioning and a decrease in repetitive behaviors in a significant number of adults suffering from autism spectrum disorders. The research, conducted by Dr. Eric Hollander – chairman of the advisory council of the International Center for Autism Research and Education (Icare4autism) – is about to be published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.


Living Life With Autism: Has Anything Really Changed? - There’s so much talk of the origins of autism these days, it’s hard not to think of it as a childhood disorder. But we tend to forget that there is a fast growing number of adults living with autism in the country today. According to Autism Speaks, in the next decade alone, 500,000 children with autism will come of age. So we have to wonder, what lies in store for the young adults who will soon age out of the special education system? What kind of lives will they lead? Has public awareness of the disorder led to any real change?

MyAutismTeam Launches First Social Network Dedicated to Parents of Children with Autism - MyHealthTeams today announced the launch of MyAutismTeam, its flagship social network for parents of children on the autism spectrum. MyAutismTeam is the first social network specifically for parents of children with autism, making it easy to connect with others who have had similar experiences. The network is a Facebook-meets-Yelp style place for parents to share recommendations of local providers, openly discuss issues, share tips, and gain access to local services that they may not have otherwise discovered on their own. Since the summer, the site has rapidly grown from 30 to over 12,500 members, underlying the growing need of parents seeking support and an easy way to find the team of providers that best meets the needs of their children. MyAutismTeam today also officially unveiled an ongoing partnership with the world's largest autism science and advocacy organization, Autism Speaks.

Boys with some types of autism have bigger brains than peers - Boys with a certain type of autism have bigger brains than their peers who don't have the developmental disorder, say scientists.  In the largest study of its kind, researchers found that children with regressive autism - which impinges speech and social skills - had six per cent greater brain volume compared to non-autistic counterparts.  This discovery adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting the incurable condition could be linked to neurological growth and development.  Autism, which affects one in every 100 people, inhibits the ability to communicate, recognise emotions and socialise, and can take a mild or severe form.

Self-fulfilling prophesies / Managers in high-tech firms both here and abroad are realizing that people with Asperger's syndrome are well suited to work in software quality assurance, among other areas. The benefits - to both sides - can be considerable - At first glance, there seems to be nothing unusual about Ester Zabar's classroom. Her students, who are learning about software quality assurance (QA ) at the offices of ECI Telecom in Petah Tikva, look like a typical group of computer geeks. On second thought, though, it's clear there's something different about this group. Maybe it's the unusual lilt in the speech of some of the students; maybe it's the various comments that one of them is constantly making; maybe it's the guy sitting next to me who is stamping his feet nonstop.

Britain's New Fundamental Scientist? - ...Kanazawa’s recent retirement from the public eye raises serious questions: who will be Britain’s next controversial psychologist? Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, the Director of Cambridge University’s Autism Research Centre, might on the surface appear to be an unlikely candidate. He has contributed substantially towards the identification of autistic traits and the broadening of the autism spectrum. With this, he has attracted both substantial media attention and has been given numerous committee positions, which have allowed him to significantly shape policy concerning autism and other related disabilities.

Abnormal Brain Connections Linked to Autism - Researchers believe they have uncovered evidence of disorganized brain connections among people with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).  Investigators used a new form of brain imaging technology to provide visual evidence associating autism with disordered brain connections, including defects in nerve conduction.

Autism Now: MacNeil Answers Viewer-Submitted Questions on Series - In response to Robert MacNeil's six-part Autism Now series, the NewsHour received scores of questions, compliments and concerns via our website, social media and voicemail. Hari Sreenivasan discusses some viewers' comments and questions with MacNeil.

Autism: The Hidden Epidemic?- msnbc.com - While the causes for the dramatic rise in autism cases over the past decade are the subject of much debate, one thing is certain: early diagnosis is crucial.

Vaccines and autism: a new scientific review - CBS News ... - For all those who've declared the autism-vaccine debate over - a new scientific review begs to differ. It considers a host of peer-reviewed, published theories that show possible connections between vaccines and autism. The article in the Journal of Immunotoxicology is entitled "Theoretical aspects of autism: Causes--A review." The author is Helen Ratajczak, surprisingly herself a former senior scientist at a pharmaceutical firm. Ratajczak did what nobody else apparently has bothered to do: she reviewed the body of published science since autism was first described in 1943. Not just one theory suggested by research such as the role of MMR shots, or the mercury preservative thimerosal; but all of them.

Apps for Autism - 60 Minutes - CBS News - Autistic people whose condition prevents them from speaking are making breakthroughs with the help of tablet computers and special applications that allow them to communicate, some for the first time. Lesley Stahl reports.

Temple Grandin: Understanding autism - In the world of autism and autism research, there is no one of greater stature than Temple Grandin. As Lesley Stahl says in this week's Overtime Correspondent Candid, "She's one of those rare people with autism who can explain autism. She's a sort of interpreter of autism for the rest of us."  For parents of autistic children, for scientists who study autism, for teachers and caregivers who work with autistic children and adults, Grandin's insights have been groundbreaking and immeasurably helpful.

 

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"We each have our own way of living in the world, together we are like a symphony.
Some are the melody, some are the rhythm, some are the harmony
It all blends together, we are like a symphony, and each part is crucial.
We all contribute to the song of life."
...Sondra Williams

We might not always agree; but TOGETHER we will make a difference.

 

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