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    genkicoll

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    News in Autism and Related Disorders

    Post by genkicoll on Thu Sep 06, 2012 6:05 pm

    Excerpt from article at Medical Xpress: http://medicalxpress.com/

    March 22, 2012
    People with autism have a greater ability to process information: study

    (Medical Xpress) -- 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 today in the ‘Journal of Abnormal Psychology’. The research, funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Economic and Social ResearchCouncil, may help to explain the apparently higher than average prevalence of people with autism spectrum disorders in the IT industry.

    Autism is a lifelong developmental disorder that affects social interaction, communication and, often, learning; however, people with autism show an increased ability to focus attention on certain tasks. Yet clinical reports backed up by some laboratory research show that these individuals can be more sensitive to the distracting effects of irrelevant stimuli, such as flashing lights or particular sounds, which can be easily ignored by people without the disorder.

    Professor Nilli Lavie, from the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL, hypothesises that this combination of the ability to focus and a susceptibility to distraction might be caused by a higher than normal information processing capacity.

    Read more at:
    http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-03-people-autism-greater-ability.html#jCp


    Follow the link above to read the rest of this very interesting article.


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    genkicoll

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    Re: News in Autism and Related Disorders

    Post by genkicoll on Thu Dec 06, 2012 1:45 pm

    Asperger's Disorder to Be Eliminated in New DSM-5
    *DSM-5 = Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

    Clip from article:
    One of the most-discussed possible revisions is the elimination of the separate diagnosis of "Asperger's Disorder" in favor of the umbrella term "autism spectrum disorder," which will now apply for all children and adults who struggle with some form of autism. That revision was among those approved by the APA on Saturday afternoon.

    The goal of the change was to "simplify diagnosis." This is not surprising to me, and in the long run, it's probably a move that will help those on the spectrum to get the services they need. The article mentions that it may have a negative impact on these services, I think that the opposite will hold true. It is much easier to get assistance for "autism" than it is for "Asperger's Syndrome."

    You can read the full article HERE.


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    Re: News in Autism and Related Disorders

    Post by ScarletteSpider on Mon Jan 14, 2013 7:19 am

    it's about time somebody noticed that Autistics (high functioning one myself) have abilities that others have a bit of lack for. The ability to focus on the important or critical...lol. Perhaps thats why I have 5 PhD's and working on a 6th? I could have told them that decades ago, but for some reason doctors and scientists don't listen to their patients nearly as well as they should. If they did, they would have answers like this one and many others sooner for developmental "differently abled" persons.

    genkicoll

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    Re: News in Autism and Related Disorders

    Post by genkicoll on Mon Jun 03, 2013 5:12 pm

    Berlin company counts on the autistic

    When German software giant SAP said last month it plans to employ hundreds of autistic people as IT experts, the news was welcomed especially at a small Berlin computer consulting firm.

    The pioneering company, Auticon, already employs 17 people who live with autism, the disorder characterised by difficulties with social interactions and exceptional abilities in specific fields.

    "Many people say that if a company like SAP said it makes sense... it's very good for us," said its chief Dirk Mueller-Remus. "That means it's something serious, solid."

    SAP, which makes business software, said in May that after pilot projects in India and Ireland, it plans to employ hundreds of people with autism as software testers and programmers.

    Its goal is that by 2020, people with autism will make up one percent of its worldwide workforce of 65,000.

    See the rest of the article here: http://phys.org/news/2013-06-berlin-company-autistic.html


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    Re: News in Autism and Related Disorders

    Post by genkicoll on Tue Jun 11, 2013 12:41 pm

    Normal or Not? Saying Goodbye to Asperger's
    from www.LiveScience.com

    Quirky, nerdy fictional characters have brought Asperger's syndrome into the realm of popular culture in recent years. But, as of late May, the disorder that has defined these characters, and been applied to a growing number of real people, will no longer exist thanks to revisions to psychiatric disorders in the new version of the DSM, the DSM-5 (see the criteria starting in THIS post.)

    Asperger's disorder was marked by difficulties interacting with others, along with abnormal behaviors and abnormally intense interests in topics such as baseball statistics or trains. These characteristics can give people with the disorder a savant-like quality portrayed in pop culture. For instance, on the TV show "Community," the character Abed Nadir possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of movies and television.

    Fictional characters like Nadir tend to be portrayed as appealing and able to function in their work — not too far off from normal. And while difficulty with social interactions and idiosyncratic interests are experiences many have, for people with Asperger's these traits cross into mental disorder territory.

    Until May 22, with the official release of the DSM-5, Asperger's was considered related to but distinct from autism. DSM-5 contains a new disorder that replaces both the old autistic disorder and Asperger's: It is called autism spectrum disorder.

    The new autism spectrum disorder criteria include impaired social communication or social reciprocity, which could mean difficulty making eye contact, a lack of facial expression or no interest in one's peers.

    Peculiar behaviors or interests — technically described as "restricted, repetitive" in the DSM-5 — make up the second criterion. These could include hand flapping, insistence on a strict routine or a fixation on a specific subject, such as trains.

    This change made to diagnoses of autism and Asperger's has been among the highest profile and most controversial in the new DSM-5. A study, published in April 2012 using a preliminary version of the new DSM-5 autism spectrum criteria found about 75 percent of patients who had been diagnosed with Asperger's under the old criteria would no longer qualify for a diagnosis, raising the possibility that they could lose access to services, such as special education in schools.

    The experts who revised the DSM-5 have disagreed with the study's findings, saying the revision will not substantially alter the prevalence of autism, which has been increasing.

    Unlike most people diagnosed with autism under the old DSM criteria, those diagnosed with Asperger's could generally function independently, because they could communicate adequately. Even so, aspects of their social skills might be impaired.

    For instance, while many people are not gifted conversationalists, someone with Asperger's may continue talking about a favorite subject for some time, remaining oblivious to his listener's loss of interest by missing cues of disinterest that someone without the disorder would catch, said Robin Rosenberg, a clinical psychologist and co-author of the psychology textbook "Abnormal Psychology"(Worth Publishers, 2009).

    Meanwhile, the old autism diagnosis could entail more severe problems, such as a lack of speech or abnormal use of language.

    The new autism spectrum disorder also encompasses a condition in the old DSM called pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS). This catchall category applied to people whose impairments didn't quite meet with the criteria for autism or Asperger's.

    ________________________________________

    With both of my children being on the autism spectrum (one at each end), this subject is near and dear to my heart. I am lucky that the neurologist who diagnosed them had the foresight to deem my eldest (who would typically be referred to as having Asperger's) simply autistic. She is undeniably autistic, but to have had the specific diagnosis of Asperger's might have limited her available resources. What happens to those specifically diagnosed with ASD now that this new definition has gone into effect? Will they automatically be deemed as being on the autism spectrum, or will they need to be reevaluated? I do not know, but I can't help but wonder.


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    genkicoll

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    Re: News in Autism and Related Disorders

    Post by genkicoll on Fri Jun 21, 2013 5:55 pm

    From yahoo news, here: 
    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/newsmakers/temple-grandin-know-advice-parents-autistic-children-151513665.html?vp=1

    Temple Grandin’s Need-to-Know Advice to Parents of Autistic Children

    She was labeled brain damaged at age 2 and a half. And didn’t speak until she was 4 years old. Not a very promising beginning for Temple Grandin, who was eventually diagnosed with autism. But today, she is a noted expert in both animal science and autism.

    “Autism is a very big spectrum,” said Grandin. “At one end of the spectrum you got Einstein, who had no language until age 3, and at the other end of the spectrum you got somebody much more severe that’s not verbal, they have to live under a supervised situation.”

    With a doctorate and nine books to her name, Grandin skews to the extreme high end of the spectrum. And she even has a TV movie based on her life. In HBO’s acclaimed “Temple Grandin,” actress Claire Danes played the title role.

    In Grandin’s latest book, “The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum,” she looks at advances in diagnosis and how to build on an autistic child’s strengths. She spoke with ABC News correspondent Steve Osunsami at The Community School in Atlanta, which specializes in teaching boys with autism and related disorders.

    “It’s not like diagnosing tuberculosis, where you have it or you don’t have it,” explained Grandin. “It’s a behavioral profile, and if you have certain behaviors, then you have a child that is diagnosed with autism. There’s no black and white dividing line.”

    But Grandin cautioned about overdiagnosis: “I get kind of concerned … I’m seeing geeky, awkward kids get diagnosed with autism or mild Asperger’s, and then they get coddled too much.”
    With proper diagnosis, early intervention and education is key.

    “When you got a young child that is not talking, the worst thing you could do is nothing,” said Grandin. “What you need to do is get some grandmothers, get some students to work with this child, because nothing is the worst thing you could do. Teach them how to play board games taking turns, teach them words, take them out on nature walks, just interact with them.”

    Social cues are another area to focus on. When Grandin was in the ninth grade, she was kicked out of class for throwing a book at a girl who teased her.

    “One of the things I had to end up doing is switch from anger to crying,” Grandin recalled. “It’s hard to control emotions, but you can switch emotions. Autistic children have got to just learn to be polite, shaking hands, not interrupting, not telling people off,” she continued.

    And after early interventions, parents should focus on building on their child’s strengths and talents.

    “Where I get social interaction is through shared interest,” said Grandin. “You know good things like agriculture programs, school band, art class, music, writing for the school newspaper. You’re going to get self-esteem if you get good at something and get recognized for being good at something.”

    That can build into a job or profession later in life. Grandin advised that starting at age 12, whether it is cleaning swimming pools or walking dogs, autistic children on the higher end of the spectrum need to do a job out of the home.

    “We’ve got to start thinking about how do you build a skill into something that is going to make you employable,” said Grandin. “You got a big portion of the spectrum where the child is going to remain nonverbal, going to have to live in a supervised living situation, but there are jobs that he can do. Even those who are nonverbal, he can clean swimming pools, mow lawns, work in a library, work at a copy center.”

    Grandin’s one caution for parents of autistic children: Limit the video games to one hour a day. “I’m seeing too many kids on the higher end of the spectrum who are getting addicted to video games, and they’re not doing anything else,” she said. “You know, if they were learning how to program games, fine, but that is not what is happening.”

    Grandin’s other professional interest is animal science, particularly the humane treatment of livestock. Her equipment designs are used in the ranches and slaughterhouses handling half the cattle in America. She has consulted with fast-food companies, including McDonald’s on its animal welfare program.

    “Visiting my aunt’s ranch and going out West got me interested in animal science,” recalled Grandin. “You know, we are raising these animals as food, we’ve got to treat them right.”


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    Re: News in Autism and Related Disorders

    Post by Esme on Mon Jun 24, 2013 12:04 pm

    This has been really fascinating to read, Genki. I'm a secondary school teacher, and have had several students in the past few years with Asperger's and it has always been a great experience to see these students become successful. It's always great to learn more, so thanks for sharing with us all.

    genkicoll

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    Re: News in Autism and Related Disorders

    Post by genkicoll on Mon Jul 01, 2013 6:54 pm

    Oh, this just makes me cry...

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/trending-now/three-old-girl-autism-paints-astonishing-works-art-174908503.html?vp=1

    Three-Year-Old Girl With Autism Paints Astonishing Works of Art

    You probably recognize the names of artists like Picasso, Renoir, and Van Gogh. How about Halmshaw? You might not know that last painter's name yet, but you do now. Iris Halmshaw is a 3-year-old painter from England taking the art world by storm. You can view some of her astonishing artwork here on her website.
    So how does a 3-year-old find art fame? Since Iris is autistic and does not speak, painting has been a therapeutic way for her to express herself. Her mother said she looked for ways to help control Iris's tantrums and one day discovered that painting soothed her. She put the first of Iris's paintings titled "Patience" on Facebook, where it surprisingly got a lot of attention and inquiries for purchase.
    Not only has Iris been featured in newspapers, but she has the art world talking. A private collector just bought two of her original pieces for over $2,000, and inquiries are coming in from all over the world. Her work will even be featured in an exhibit in central London. Proceeds from the sale of Iris's art will go toward paying for costly therapy sessions.


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    Re: News in Autism and Related Disorders

    Post by genkicoll on Mon Jul 08, 2013 12:18 pm

    Autistic Boy With Higher IQ Than Einstein Discovers His Gift After Removal From State-Run Therapy

    4th June 2013
    By Carolanne Wright
    Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

    In yet another example of how an out-of-control Goliath state system can cause more harm than good, a teenage boy who was diagnosed with autism at a young age has risen to stellar heights after quitting the special ed system with the help of his concerned mother.
    State therapy specialists claimed Jacob Barnett would never tie his shoes, read or function normally in society. But the boy’s mother realized when Jacob was not in therapy, he was doing “spectacular things” completely on his own.

    She decided to trust her instinct and disregard the advice of the professionals. Instead of following a standardized special needs educational protocol, she surrounded Jacob with all the things that inspired passion for him – and was astonished at the transformation that took place.



    Don’t fix what’s not broken
    Following a diagnosis of autism at age two, Jacob was subjected to a cookie cutter special education system that focused on correcting what he couldn’t do compared to normal children. For years, teachers attempted to convince Kristine Barnett that her son would only be able to learn the most basic of life skills.

    When exposed to the state system of educational therapy, Kristine noticed Jacob would withdraw deeply and refuse to speak with anyone. Even though she found it “terrifying to fly against the advice of the professionals,” she knew in her heart “that if Jake stayed in special ed, he would slip away,” Kristine relates in her memoir, The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing Genius.
    So began a journey for Jacob that would lead to such unexpected achievement that the whole premise of standardized therapy for this ‘special needs’ child would be blown to bits.

    A path of passion and discovery
    After years of frustration and little progress, Kristine made a radical decision in the eyes of the special ed system — she took Jacob out of school and prepared him for kindergarten herself. As described in the New York Daily Times:

    She let him explore the things he wanted to explore. He studied patterns and shadows and stars. At the same time, she made sure that he enjoyed “normal” childhood pleasures – softball, picnics – along with other kids his age.
    “I operate under a concept called ‘muchness’,” Kristine said “which is surrounding children with the things they love – be it music, or art, whatever they’re drawn to and love.”

    By the time Jacob reached the age of 11, he entered college and is currently studying condensed matter physics at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis. According to an email Professor Scott Tremaine wrote to Jacob’s family:

    “The theory that he’s working on involves several of the toughest problems in astrophysics and theoretical physics … Anyone who solves these will be in line for a Nobel Prize.”

    Jacob also has an IQ of 170 — higher than that of Einstein. He is history’s youngest astrophysics researcher, has spoken at a New York TED (Technology, Entertainment & Design) conference, and appeared on a variety of news interviews, including 60 Minutes and the Time magazine website.
    Not bad for someone who was classified by state experts as so severely disabled that he would never tie his own shoes or learn to read. If Jacob had stayed within the system, the prediction may very well have come true.

    Sources for this article include:
    http://www.nydailynews.com
    http://www.indianapolismonthly.com
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22477958
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uq-FOOQ1TpE

    Full article:
    http://wakeup-world.com/2013/06/04/autistic-boy-discovers-gift-after-removal-from-state-run-therapy/

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    This article once again highlights how very different EVERY autistic is.  It also goes to show you how very easily we can limit our own potential.  So many of us are convinced we are unable to do something, thence fulfilling our own expectations.  It's sad and enlightening at the same time, for the same trait that pigeonholes us can also allow us to soar well beyond the world's expectations.

    Believe in yourself.  Strive for the stars.  Who knows, you may even surpass them! Offering


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    Re: News in Autism and Related Disorders

    Post by genkicoll on Tue Aug 13, 2013 1:21 pm

    Article at Yahoo! Health
    http://health.yahoo.net/news/s/ap/inducing-labor-may-be-tied-to-autism-study-says

    Inducing labor may be tied to autism, study says
    By LINDSEY TANNER, Associated Press
    Aug. 12, 2013 1:57PM PDT


    CHICAGO (AP) — The biggest study of its kind suggests autism might be linked with inducing and speeding up labor, preliminary findings that need investigating since labor is induced in increasing numbers of U.S. women, the authors and other autism experts say.

    It's possible that labor-inducing drugs might increase the risk — or that the problems that lead doctors to start labor explain the results. These include mothers' diabetes and fetal complications, which have previously been linked with autism.

    Like most research into autism causes, the study doesn't provide conclusive answers, and the authors say the results shouldn't lead doctors to avoid inducing labor or speeding it up since it can be life-saving for mothers and babies.

    Simon Gregory, lead author and an associate professor of medicine and medical genetics at Duke University, emphasized, "We haven't found a connection for cause and effect. One of the things we need to look at is why they were being induced in the first place."

    Government data suggest 1 in 5 U.S. women have labor induced — twice as many as in 1990.

    Smaller studies suggested a possible tie between induced labor and autism, but the new research is the largest to date, involving more than 600,000 births. The government-funded study was published online Monday in JAMA Pediatrics.

    The researchers examined eight years of North Carolina birth records, and matched 625,042 births with public school data from the late 1990s through 2008. Information on autism diagnoses didn't specify whether cases were mild or severe. Labor was induced or hastened in more than 170,000 births.

    Overall, 5,648 children developed autism — three times as many boys as girls. Among autistic boys, almost one-third of the mothers had labor started or hastened, versus almost 29 percent of the boys without autism. The differences were less pronounced among girls.

    Oxytocin and prostaglandins are used to start or speed up labor but the study doesn't identify specific medications.

    The strongest risks were in boys whose mothers had labor started and hastened. They were 35 percent more likely to have autism.

    Among girls, autism was not tied to induced labor; it was only more common in those born after labor was accelerated; they were 18 percent more likely to have the developmental disorder than girls whose mothers had neither treatment.

    Autism affects about 1 in 88 U.S. children. Symptoms may involve communication problems including avoiding eye contact and unusual repetitive behavior including arm-flapping. Causes are uncertain but experts believe it probably results from a combination of genetics and other factors. These may include mothers' illnesses and medication use while pregnant, fathers' age at conception, and problems affecting the fetus during childbirth — all suggested but not proven in previous research.

    The study's biggest strength is bolstering the growing consensus that risks for autism occur before birth or soon after, said Dr. Byron King, director of Seattle Children's Hospital's autism center. He was not involved in the study.

    ___________________________

    This is somewhat devastating news for me, personally, as both of my children were induced, and both are autistic.  It was not any risk factors such as mentioned above, but simply that my water broke, and I didn't go into labor -- both times. :(  If I had known that the risk was higher, I might have asked my doctor to wait a little longer... just a little longer.


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    Re: News in Autism and Related Disorders

    Post by genkicoll on Tue Jan 14, 2014 6:36 pm

    'Good' Bacteria Ease Autism-like Behaviors in Mouse Model

    From autismspeaks.org, December 05, 2013

    Animal study links autism behaviors, abnormal intestinal bacteria and leaky gut; suggests possible probiotic treatments.

    Researchers eased autism behaviors in a mouse model of autism by feeding the animals Bacteroides fragilis. The microbe occurs naturally in a healthy human intestinal tract.

    In mice, infection or inflammation during pregnancy can produce offspring with autism-like behaviors such as social avoidance, anxiety and repetitive behaviors. In a new study, researchers reduced these behaviors by feeding the mice bacteria found in a healthy human gut. The research adds to growing evidence of a gut-brain connection in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It appears today in the journal Cell.

    "There's likely a lot going on outside the brain in some individuals with ASD," comments Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Rob Ring. “Studies that improve our understanding of these brain-gut connections are laying a pathway to innovations in treatment for those who want or need it."

    Autism Speaks supported the research with a Weatherstone Predoctoral Fellowship for lead researcher Elaine Hsiao and a Suzanne and Bob Wright Trailblazer Award for senior researchers Paul Patterson and Sarkis Mazmanian, all of the California Institute of Technology.  

    “These findings represent a breakthrough in understanding the link between the gut and brain in ASD,” says Paul Wang, Autism Speaks vice president for medical research. “Previous research gave us tantalizing clues about autism-related differences in the gut microbiome. These new results tell us that we need to invest in further study of GI-related treatments.”

    In their study, the researchers used the maternal immune activation (MIA) mouse model of autism. These mice are born to mothers exposed to viral infection during pregnancy and display autism-like behaviors. Similar links between autism and prenatal infection or inflammation have been documented in people.

    In the current study, the researchers showed that MIA mice have altered intestinal bacteria and other gut abnormalities. These included defects in the barrier between the gut and bloodstream. Such a "leaky gut" can trigger inflammation when bacteria or other intestinal contents stray into the blood.

    Indeed, the MIA mice had high levels of microbial byproducts in their blood. When the researchers administered these byproducts to otherwise normal mice, they too began showing autism-like behaviors.

    In the treatment stage of their study, the researchers fed the MIA mice Bacteroides fragilis, a microbe abundant in a healthy human intestinal tract. This significantly reduced the mice's autism-like behaviors as well as the leakiness of their guts.

    “Taken together, the findings provide strong support of a gut-brain connection in this mouse model of autism,” Dr. Wang comments. Caution is needed in applying the results to people, he adds. “We need further study to determine possible benefits of probiotic therapy in persons with autism.” Based on their findings, the Caltech researchers are working with collaborators to evaluate such a probiotic treatment in clinical trials.


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    Re: News in Autism and Related Disorders

    Post by RenaissanceMom on Tue Jan 14, 2014 8:10 pm

    Wow, that's really intriguing! I'll be interested in the initial results of these trials.

    genkicoll

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    Re: News in Autism and Related Disorders

    Post by genkicoll on Tue Jan 14, 2014 8:56 pm

    I searched the 'net for bacteroides fragilis probiotic to see if I could try it on my kids, but it looks like it's not available to buy as a supplement at the moment.


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    Re: News in Autism and Related Disorders

    Post by genkicoll on Thu Mar 27, 2014 4:26 pm

    from Yahoo! News:

    'One in 68 kids has autism'

    One in 68 children has autism, a 30 percent rise over the last estimate released in 2012, US health authorities said

    Washington (AFP) - One in 68 children has autism, a 30 percent rise over the last estimate released in 2012, US health authorities said Thursday.

    The latest US data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the "proportion of children with autism and higher IQ (is) on the rise," said a CDC statement.

    Previously, as many as one in 88 US children were known to have autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, a developmental disorder that recent research suggests may originate in the womb.

    "This new estimate is roughly 30 percent higher than previous estimates reported in 2012 of 1 in 88 children (11.3 per 1,000 eight year olds) being identified with an autism spectrum disorder," said the CDC.

    The findings were based on diagnoses of eight-year-olds at 11 US sites in 2010.

    The prevalence of autism varied widely, from one in 175 children in Alabama to one in 45 children in New Jersey.

    The data continued to show that autism is five times more common in boys than in girls. In the United States, one in 42 boys is diagnosed with autism, compared to one in 189 girls.

    The reasons for the rise were unclear, but the CDC said the criteria used to diagnose autism spectrum disorder and the methods used to collect data have not changed.


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    Re: News in Autism and Related Disorders

    Post by genkicoll on Tue Apr 29, 2014 3:38 pm

    Eight Things You Ought to Know About Autism (but Might Not)
    by Dan Tynan, Tech Columnist on Yahoo! Tech

    How much do you really know about autism? Probably not as much as you think. To mark National Autism Awareness month, here are eight things you may not be aware of — yet.

    1. Not all forms of autism are equal.
    The appropriate name for this condition is “autism spectrum disorders” (ASD). As the name implies, it encompasses a wide range of conditions, from high-functioning individuals with Asperger syndrome to people who require constant one-to-one care, with many stops in between. (For more about what constitutes autism, see this guide from Autism Speaks.)

    This has caused a huge rift in the autism community between those who believe parents of ASD children should be the primary advocates for autistic people and those who believe autistic people should be allowed to represent themselves.


    2. It’s kind of a geek thing.
    There appears to be an unusually high presence of autism in the tech world, in large part because the characteristics associated with high-functioning autism are often considered a plus when working with computers. For example, Aspiritech, a software testing company in Chicago, hires only high-functioning people with ASD as test engineers because of their attention to detail and affinity for repetitive tasks.

    Bit Torrent inventor Bram Cohen and hacker/journalist Adrian Lamo are examples of high-tech figures whose Asperger diagnoses are public knowledge; some speculate that such highly successful geeks as Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, and Mark Zuckerberg may also be on the spectrum. (Others posthumously diagnosed with high-functioning ASD include Mozart, Einstein, and Nikola Tesla, though there’s obviously no way to verify any of that.)

    Albert Einstein, who may (or may not) have had Asperger syndrome. (David Wallace/Flickr)


    3. It is way more common than you might suspect.
    One in 68 American children has been diagnosed with ASD, according to a March 2014 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s a rise of nearly 30 percent in just two years. For boys, the rate is one in 42. And that survey includes only 8-year-olds, so the actual number of people with ASD could be higher.


    4. But it’s not an epidemic.
    The biggest reason there are more cases of autism today is because doctors have gotten better at identifying it, according to analysis by the CDC. At the same time, they’ve also expanded the definition of what ASD is. Conditions that might have been diagnosed as early onset schizophrenia or “mental retardation” a decade ago are now called autism. Asperger syndrome, once considered a separate but related disorder, has also been rolled into the definition.


    5. Autism is tricky to diagnose.
    There is no blood test for ASD. Diagnoses are based entirely on observations of behavior and cognitive development. This process is complicated by the fact that many people with ASD also suffer from other neurological disorders such as ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Tourette syndrome. So, while diagnoses have improved a lot in the past decade, it’s still possible that some who are diagnosed with ASD may not actually have it.


    6. It is not caused by vaccines.
    Even Generation Rescue founder Jenny McCarthy is finally backing away from this claim, after she and a handful of others made a lot of noise about it for the past few years.

    Jenny McCarthy, anti-vaxx spokesmodel — until recently, anyway. (MingleMediaTV/Flickr)

    After examining numerous scientific studies, the independent Institute of Medicine concluded in August 2011 that the use of vaccines — particularly the measles mumps rubella (MMR) vaccine routinely given to children under the age of 6 — has no relationship to the rise in ASD cases. The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a similar report in April 2013. The anti-vaccination movement has, however, helped spur an increase in whooping cough, measles, and other communicable diseases that had been all but wiped out in the United States.

    Nobody actually knows what causes ASD, though researchers have identified some genetic links.


    7. It can’t be cured.
    In fact, some autism advocates bristle at the notion that ASD is a condition in need of a cure. Others in the ASD community are desperate for a solution to the daily struggles of their autistic offspring. But while autism isn’t a disease that can be cured, it is a disorder that can be treated. The sooner intervention is started, the more likely a child with ASD is to lead a full and satisfying life, which means that early detection is vital.


    8. It’s not just about kids.
    Though most attention is focused on autistic children, there are hundreds of thousands of adults living with ASD. Once an autistic child turns 21, however, his support system often evaporates. An adult with ASD may be unable to do many things other adults take for granted — like drive a car, sign a lease, vote, or get married. Even high-functioning individuals may need special accommodations and support.

    As autism activism increases, though, that’s slowly changing. Organizations like the Washington, D.C.-based Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) are working to protect the civil rights of autistic individuals and to change public policy and perceptions about the condition. The Farms & Ranches Enabling people with Disablities (FRED) organization finds adult housing for people with ASD and other developmental disorders.


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    RenaissanceMom

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    Re: News in Autism and Related Disorders

    Post by RenaissanceMom on Tue Apr 29, 2014 3:57 pm

    As always, eye opening and food for thought. Thanks, Genki!

    volnole68

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    Re: News in Autism and Related Disorders

    Post by volnole68 on Tue Apr 29, 2014 6:09 pm

    Thanks Genki.  I think autism is getting a lot more attention and I am certainly glad.  I enjoy reading the material.

    genkicoll

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    Re: News in Autism and Related Disorders

    Post by genkicoll on Thu May 01, 2014 3:18 pm

    What Autism Changes Mean for You and Your Children
    posted at Yahoo! Health, May 1, 2014

    Thomas Frazier II, PhD, who authored this post, is Director of the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital Center for Pediatric Behavioral Health and Center for Autism.

    Nearly a year ago, the world of autism diagnosis changed.
    When the American Psychiatric Association published the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) in May 2013, the way we identify autism was one of the biggest changes by far.

    Since then, DSM-5 has brought its share of controversy — and questions from concerned parents. Below are answers to some of the most common ones.

    What’s the biggest change in autism diagnosis?
    Consolidation. In the past, we used different diagnoses: autistic disorder, Asperger’s syndrome and pervasive development disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), for example. But there was a lot of overlap and inconsistency between them.

    Now, there is only one diagnosis: autism spectrum disorder (ASD). For an ASD diagnosis, you must meet a specific mix of social communication and interaction concerns and repetitive or restrictive behaviors.

    Why lump everyone together?
    I get this question a lot, and I understand why. Your high-functioning child may seem quite different from someone on the more severe end of the autism spectrum.

    But the word “spectrum” is key. Think of it in terms of diabetes. No matter your age, sex or ethnicity, you can have a diagnosis of diabetes. You can have high or low cognitive abilities and still have diabetes. Your condition can range from mild to severe.

    The same is true of autism. Autism really includes two things: Repetitive or inflexible behavior and problems with social interaction and communication. The social part is about perspective taking — how you “read” people and respond to social cues.

    Severity varies from person to person, but these issues are present for everyone on the spectrum.

    Why is the mix of social concerns and repetitive behavior so important?
    To get people the right services, we have to get the right diagnosis.

    Say a child has repetitive behaviors — lining up toys a certain way or touching objects over and over again — but no issues with social interaction. The child may have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) rather than autism. The difference matters; we don’t use all the same [url=http://my.clevelandclinic.org/childrens-hospital/specialties-services/departments-centers/center-for-autism/default.aspx?utm_campaign=syndication&utm_medium=link&utm_source=yahoo-syn&utm_content=140501-autism &dynid=yahoo-syn-_-syndication-_-link-_-link-_-140501-autism]tools and services[/url] to treat OCD as we do for ASD.

    If a child has trouble interacting with others but displays no repetitive behavior, DSM-5 offers a new diagnosis: social communication disorder. Children with social communication disorder may benefit from social skills programs. But they may not need all the other support children with ASD need, including procedures to reduce repetitive behavior. Social communication disorder is a new diagnosis, so only time — and research — will tell.

    Could my child lose services?
    This is the biggest question for anxious parents. Fortunately, the answer is no in the vast majority of cases, for two reasons.

    First, there’s a “grandfather clause.” People diagnosed before DSM-5 automatically should get an updated ASD diagnosis. However, there have been some reports of schools or insurers insisting on a re-assessment. If this happens to you, talk to your doctor or social worker about what steps you can take to correct it. Your child should not have to lose critical support because of a change in diagnosis.

    Second, most people who fit autism categories before DSM-5 also fit ASD afterward. In field testing in 2012, researchers found the DSM-5 criteria identified 91 percent of children diagnosed previously. Others may fall under new categories, including social communication disorder.
    Studies in coming years will help us learn if children are slipping through the cracks under DSM-5.

    Can I — or my child — still use the Asperger’s label?
    Yes, absolutely. This has been controversial because many people with Asperger’s use the label as a source of identity.

    If you had an Asperger’s diagnosis, you may now fall under ASD for clinical purposes. But people who claim the Asperger’s label with pride often do so because of the sense of community it inspires — and there’s no reason for that to change.


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    Re: News in Autism and Related Disorders

    Post by genkicoll on Tue Jun 17, 2014 10:03 pm

    Article here:  http://www.theverge.com/2014/6/17/5817278/a-100-year-old-drug-corrects-autistic-social-behaviors-in-lab-tests

    A 100-year-old drug corrects autistic social behaviors in lab tests
    Suramin was developed to treat African sleeping sickness, but results in mice might lead to new therapies for autism

    Old drugs can sometimes yield surprising results. A well-known diabetes pill called Metformin, for instance, is now being used to treat certain cancers. And Thalidomide, a drug used as a sedative in the ’50s, is now used to treat leprosy and bone marrow cancer. But a new study published today in Translational Psychiatry might beat these examples, as it reveals that suramin, a drug that was developed in 1916 to treat African sleeping sickness, can restore normal social behaviors in adult mouse models of autism. These results won't lead to new autism therapies right away — suramin has not been tested on humans with autism, and it's actually toxic if dispensed for longer than a few months — they do hint at the new directions that researchers might explore.

    "The mice became more social after a single dose"

    In the study, researchers administered a dose of suramin to 25 male mice, whereas another 25 males received a saline injection instead. All mice were "maternal immune activation mouse models," meaning animals that exhibit autism-like behaviors following a virus infection in their mothers during pregnancy. This single dose, the researchers report, corrected the social behaviors seen in autism spectrum disorder. The mice, for instance, spent more time interacting with both mice and objects they had never interacted with before, compared to those injected with a saline solution. The benefits lasted for five weeks after the drug was washed out of their system.

    The scientists think suramin acts by binding to, and inhibiting, 19 different receptors — called "purinergic" receptors — that are expressed on every cell type in the body. This binding action prevents ATP, our body's energetic currency unit, from binding to these specific receptors, which then helps turn off a cellular response known as the "cell danger response."

    "The cell danger response can change the trajectory of neurodevelopment"

    "The cell danger response is an evolutionarily conserved set of about 30 metabolic changes that help protect cells from threat," explained Robert Naviaux, a geneticist at the University of California San Diego and lead author of the study, in an email to The Verge. These metabolic changes can be beneficial, because they allow the re-allocation of energetic resources in times of stress, like when the body encounters viruses, pollutants, or even certain drugs. But "when significant exposures happen during pregnancy or in early childhood," Naviaux said, "the trajectory of neurodevelopment can be changed." Moreover, "cells retain a metabolic memory of these significant exposures according to the severity of the stress and the developmental timing of the exposure."

    So, if the change in resource allocation is severe enough, it may also alter normal cellular functions that are required for healthy neurodevelopment. And suramin's binding action seems to reverse this change in function by allowing cells to return to their normal metabolism, Naviaux said — "and their normal jobs."

    "Suramin is toxic in the long-run"

    Unfortunately, suramin can't be administered for longer than a few months because of long-term toxicity. Naviaux thinks people shouldn't focus on that aspect of the study, however, because scientist may one day find less damaging drugs that have similar effects. These therapies could be given "only once or intermittently," he says, to unblock metabolism and restore more normal social behaviors.

    "This really takes a novel approach to understanding what's going on in autism," says Richard Frye, director of autism research at the University of Arkansas who did not participate in the study. "I think the argument that, when a cell senses danger, it changes its metabolism to protect itself makes a lot of sense — and it makes a lot of sense with what we see in autism."

    ""it makes a lot of sense with what we see in autism.""

    But other researchers are less enthusiastic. "[The findings] are valuable, but the main problem is that they rely on a model of immune infection, not a genuine model of autism," said Yehezkel Ben-Ari, an autism researcher at the Mediterranean Institute of Neurobiology who was not involved in the study, in an email to The Verge. "They should have tested one of the classical models of autism," he said — meaning genetic models of autism — to see whether suramin indeed corrects autistic behaviors.

    Naviaux has heard such criticisms before, and argues that the model is appropriate given that serious viral infections and fevers during human pregnancy can increase the risk of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders in children. In addition, he said, the mouse model "actually produces more severe symptoms" than many of the conventional autism animal models. "No animal model is a perfect match for complex human diseases like autism or schizophrenia," Naviaux said, but this is "one of the best."

    There are other possible limitations to this work. For example, this mouse model doesn't reproduce all behaviors linked to autism, such as repetitive behaviors. The study also involved a small number of mice, and the researchers only tested suramin on males.

    ""Genes interact with environmental factors.""

    It should also be noted that Naviaux's explanation for behavioral symptoms seen in people with autism spectrum disorder doesn't contradict current notions regarding its genetics. "It is very clear that genes interact with environmental factors to cause autism," Naviaux said. But "even in the rare cases of single genes that can increase the risk of autism spectrum disorders, no single-gene disorder produces [autism] in 100 percent of the children who have the gene."

    The idea that autism might be the result of abnormal cell communication is still fairly new. But Naviaux thinks exploring the cell danger response theory is important. "According to the theory, abnormal cell metabolism can result from genes, environment, or both," he said. So, the key to treatment may lie in finding the way to restore normal cell metabolism, and more normal development as a result. "Some things that we thought were a permanent feature of the mouse models, are actually treatable with the right metabolic intervention," Naviaux said, which means that "despite the permanent loss of certain brain cell connections in the mouse models of autism ... social and exploratory behaviors can be improved with the right treatment."


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    Esme

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    Re: News in Autism and Related Disorders

    Post by Esme on Tue Jun 17, 2014 10:09 pm

    Wow! This is exciting and encouraging. It could help so many incredible kids... I'm really hopeful for this for the kids and their families.

    I've seen so many more Autism-related diagnoses in the past ten years at work. It's good that there is something on the horizon for them. Hopefully there won't be terrible side effects.

    genkicoll

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    Re: News in Autism and Related Disorders

    Post by genkicoll on Mon Jul 07, 2014 10:00 pm

    Scientists Say This Gene May Be Responsible For Autism
    from Yahoo! Health July 7, 2014

    Decades’ long search for a possible cause of autism finally came to some fruition with scientists discovering that mutation in a specific gene called CHD8 causes a subtype of this neurodevelopmental disorder. The discovery of this gene may have great potential for developing autism-specific interventions.

    "We finally got a clear cut case of an autism specific gene," said Raphael Bernier, in a press release. He is the lead author and University of Washington associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the clinical director of the Autism Center at Seattle Children's.

    People who carry the mutated variant of the CHD8 gene have a very strong likelihood of having autism marked by a similar cluster of symptoms including gastrointestinal disorders, a larger head, and wide set eyes. The results of the study, carried out in collaboration with 13 institutions around the world, were published in Cell magazine under the title "Disruptive CHD8 Mutations Define a Subtype of Autism in Early Development."

    The researchers studied 6,176 children with autism spectrum disorder and found that 15 of them had a CHD8 mutation. These children had distinct facial characteristics, gastrointestinal complaints, and sleep disturbances. To confirm that mutation in the CHD8 gene was responsible for these traits, the team worked with scientists at Duke University who use zebra fish modelling to study several human diseases.When scientists disrupted the CHD8 gene in fish embryos, the fish ended up having increased head size and wide set eyes. The fish also developed gastrointestinal problems as they took much longer to move fluorescent pellets along their digestive tracts compared to controls. In short, the fish were constipated.

    Bernier said this is the first time researchers have shown a definitive cause of autism due to a genetic mutation. Although genetic mutation in the Fragile X gene is most commonly associated with autism, it is characterized mainly by developmental and intellectual disorders. With only a handful of cases identified so far, mutations in CHD8 seem rare, according to Bernier. But identifying a specific subtype of autism will greatly help in developing specifically designed treatments. Treatments for autism have not achieved significant breakthroughs due to the heterogeneous nature of the condition. There are only a few known causes of it and it may be caused by mutations to any of the countless genes in the human body.

    Some of the known genetic events related to autism are chromosomal re-arrangements or copy number variation, where one or more sections of the DNA are either copied or deleted. But no one rearrangement affects more than 1 percent of all autism cases. But scientists have not been able to definitively prove the association between these copy number events and autism. The other known event is mutation in the DNA that alters the function or production of specific proteins which may lead to autism.

    The discovery of the CHD8 mutation as a clear link to autism can now be used as a stepping stone to uncover several other genetic issues related to autism. Diagnosis can then be based on these underlying conditions rather than on behavior alone. Most of all, it can be used to develop drugs for specific sub-types of autism.


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    Re: News in Autism and Related Disorders

    Post by genkicoll on Fri Aug 29, 2014 10:32 am

    Not exactly news, but this topic will do~ Big smile

    Temple Grandin On The Secret To Success For Kids With Autism
    Posted:  08/29/2014 8:45 am EDT  by Macrina Cooper-White



    At the age of three, Temple Grandin could barely get out a full sentence and doctors diagnosed her with autism, advising her parents that she should be institutionalized. Now the esteemed animal scientist can charm a roomful of people with stories and advice for others who have been given the same diagnosis. Grandin, who was portrayed in the 2010 motion picture "Temple Grandin" and who is the author of the book "The Autistic Brain," spoke recently at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association in Washington D.C.
    Afterward, Grandin -- who turns 67 today -- sat down with HuffPost Science for a wide-ranging interview that touched on everything from where she gets her inspiration, to advice for parents of children with autism, to modern-day society's obsession with computer and television screens.

    What follows is a condensed and lightly edited version of the discussion.
    Macrina Cooper-White: Can you describe your earliest memories?
    Temple Grandin: As a little kid I couldn’t talk and that was very frustrating. I went into a very good early educational treatment, very similar to what’s being done today.
    MC: How did your parents and teachers help you?
    TG: When I got a little older in elementary school it became obvious that I was good at art, and my ability was always encouraged.
    "There really are different kinds of minds and they can work together."
    When I got to high school, that was a disaster for me. But I had a great science teacher. He got me turned around, got me studying. For some kids, regular high school works out really well because the kids get into things -- they get into art, or a school play. Then those places serve as refuges. I think one of the worst things schools have done is taken out all of the stuff like art, music, woodworking, sewing, cooking, welding, auto-shop. All these things you can turn into careers. How can you get interested in these careers if you don’t try them on a little bit?

    MC: How have you managed to be so successful while many other people with autism have trouble?
    TG: Mother knew just kind of how hard to push me. Then, when I got out in the cattle industry, I had a lot of problems. Being a girl in the seventies, going into a man’s industry, that was really very difficult. But there were some people that helped me. There was a contractor that helped me get started. There was my boss, who said, "It’s okay to be eccentric, but you can’t be a slob."
    MC: Can you speak more about "being a girl in a man's industry?"
    TG: When I started in the seventies in the cattle feed yards, the only women were secretaries in the office. There were no women working in the yards.
    MC: Was that discouraging?
    TG: Well, this is maybe where being autistic helped, because I had an iron will. I got chucked out of the Scottsdale Feedyard because the cowboys’ wives wouldn’t like it that I was there. And what people call sexual harassment today was nothing compared to what I went through. Being a girl was the hardest thing, and one of the things I had to do was be like five times better than a guy. And what got people to take me seriously was when I’d show them my drawings.
    MC: Do you have advice for parents of children with autism?
    TG: For these kids with autism, I’m seeing them getting too coddled. I’ll go to an autism convention
    "I think one of the worst things schools have done is taken out all of the stuff like art, music, woodworking, sewing, cooking, welding, auto-shop."
    and a ten year old comes up to speak to me, and the mom does all the talking. I want to hear what the kid has to say. And I’ll say ‘Okay, let’s practice shaking hands,’ and he doesn’t know how to shake hands. Well that’s totally ridiculous. The other thing that I really emphasize is teaching work skills. My mother got me a sewing job when I was thirteen, and I was cleaning horse stalls when I was fifteen... I have a book called "Different... Not Less." It's about 14 'Aspys' who were diagnosed later in life and they all were self-supported. They all had paper routes when they were kids. Kids have got to learn those work skills.

    MC: Recent reports in the media have featured the stories of "kids who beat autism." What separates a kid who "beats" autism from one who doesn't?
    TG: Basically, just looking at [autistic] kids, you can’t tell when you’re working with them who you’re going to pull out, who is going to become verbal and who’s not. And there seem to be certain kids who, as they learn more and more, they get less autistic acting, and they learn social skills enough so that they can turn out socially normal. But I think the brain deficits are still there.
    MC: What are some commonly held myths about autism?
    TG: One is that all people are savants like “Rain Man.” That maybe is only 10 percent of people with autism. That is a myth. Probably half of the people in Silicon Valley have a little bit of autism.
    MC: What do you believe should be the next steps for autism research?
    TG: For some of the things, you can find out exactly where there’s
    "There really needs to be a time when we just put all the screens away."
    a problem in the brain. But then there’s a point –- you know, people talk about curing autism -– if you got rid of all those traits, who’s going to make the next computer? I think a brain can be made “more thinking” or made “more emotional.” At what point does this become abnormal? Autism in its milder variants, I think, is part of normal human variation.

    MC: Let's talk more about your own experience. You've spoken in the past about how you "think in pictures." Can you explain how your visual thinking works?
    TG: It’s sort of like Google Images. I think the best way to describe it is, give me some keywords and I’ll tell you how I access my memory. And don’t ask me something like house or car, get a little more creative.
    MC: OK, how about dessert?
    TG: I went to Starbucks yesterday afternoon and I had two chocolate cake pops over at the hotel. Now I’m seeing a delicious, decadent flourless chocolate cake I had another place. Now I’m seeing desserts I had as a child: strawberry shortcake and coffee ice cream. Now I’m up at Ben & Jerry’s getting a scoop of 'Coffee Buzz Buzz.'
    MC: Do you ever find that this is distracting to you?
    TG: I can control it.
    MC: Can you describe your emotions? Do your emotions differ from those of a “neurotypical” person?
    TG: I tend to be much more in the present and my emotions are simpler. I can be happy, I can be sad, I can be depressed, but there’s a complexity that I don’t have. I don’t brood the same way. Fear is my main emotion.
    MC: What's your social life like?
    TG: Work. What do I do when I go home? Work. That’s basically my social life. I’m married to work.
    MC: How about romance?
    TG: Nope. I had a little thing… You know, I've seen too many marriages that have been terrible. My mother and father, my aunt and uncle at the ranch. I haven’t seen that many good models.
    MC: Do you have any hobbies?
    TG: I’m a Star Trek fan.
    MC: Who's your favorite character?
    TG: Oh, Mr. Spock! And Commander Data. Star Trek always had good ethics. In the fifties, there were much clearer values about right and wrong, heroes. Superman just did good things.
    MC: How about your career. What are you working on now?
    TG: Now I’ve got a lot of other people who do a lot
    "Being a girl was the hardest thing, and one of the things I had to do was be like five times better than a guy."
    of things for me, so I’ve gotten to a part in my career where I’m doing a lot of talks because I want to get kids turned on. I want to see these kids, these geeky nerdy kids, go out there and do something. I’m seeing too many geeky, nerdy kids get addicted to video games and they’re going nowhere. It’s making me crazy. They’re getting a label and they’re going nowhere and they’re becoming their label. And then I go to Silicon Valley and there are whole rooms of them having fun and getting paid doing it.

    MC: Can you speak more about the danger of kids getting addicted to video games and "going nowhere?" Do you have any solutions?
    TG: There really needs to be a time when we just put all the screens away. I’m concerned because I see a lot of kids today, they’ve got no resourcefulness. How do you problem solve, how do you figure things out?
    MC: The majority of your research has focused on animals. Do you have any advice for humans that might help fix our problems?
    TG: People are getting too far away from the real-world. Politics is just ridiculous, it’s totally dysfunctional. I think we’ve got to get people out of the office. They’ve got to find out what’s really happening. The thing I think is interesting is how states are doing things on their own. You go to places like in North Dakota. I visited there, and I found out their legislature meets only every two years for three months. So everyone that’s in the legislature has a real job. I’m a child of the fifties. The Republicans built the interstate highway system and the Democrats went to the moon. We did things -– did great stuff. We’re losing the ability to do things. All they do is fight over stupid things. I'm an equal opportunity bipartisan trasher. I’m interested in how do we get things done so that we have decent outcomes.
    MC: How have you come up with your best ideas?
    TG: My best stuff doesn’t get thought up in 10 seconds, because I’ve got to troll through the database. What tends to happen, what happens with my best design stuff, is I did it while I was just going to sleep. Or I might be in the shower, or I might be driving in no traffic, just the open road. Those are the places where an idea will come.
    MC: What do you find inspiring?
    TG: Certain people. I’ve always had Einstein’s posters on my wall. I’ve had them on my wall ever since graduate school. Jane Goodall is another person I’ve followed really closely. People that got out there and they really did things.
    MC: What motivated you to write your book, "The Autistic Brain," which was published last year?
    TG: I had done all of these brain scans. Also I wanted to go into a lot more detail on the different kinds of brains. The visual thinkers, the math thinkers and the word thinkers. And talk about the research that shows that’s really true, that there really are different kinds of minds and they can work together.
    MC: What's something that people might not know about you? Can you share a fun story with us?
    TG: When I was in high school, I made a flying saucer about 18 inches in diameter, a classic fifties-style saucer. Put a Dairy Queen dish on top with a light in it. Got up on the roof of the house and just as the other two girls went to sleep I swung it in front of the window. First swing they didn’t see it, second swing they screamed. I ran back inside. Then 10 days later there was a flying saucer sighting in Exeter, New Hampshire. So the whole school believed it.


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    volnole68

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    Re: News in Autism and Related Disorders

    Post by volnole68 on Fri Aug 29, 2014 1:30 pm

    WOW!! I definitely agree with a lot of her thoughts!

    luvtoread

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    Re: News in Autism and Related Disorders

    Post by luvtoread on Fri Aug 29, 2014 3:14 pm

    My grandson was diagnosed with Autism and I have to really give my daughter a lot of
    credit.
    I know Aidric  (my grandson)  has overcome a lot because of her devotion and diligence.

    She gets interested in a lot of different things and gets him involved also.  I know that
    helps him a lot.  Plus she watches his diet as it does affect him.

    Her comment about "parents speaking for their children",  I must say that really isn't
    just parents of autistic children.   Most parents (I would say I was probably guilty
    of this myself)  tend to speak for their kids.
    Something that would drive me nuts is when I would talk to my pre-k's on the bus,
    the moniter I had would answer for them.   I know she wasen't aware of this
    being annoying,  so I would just continue to look at them and they would talk
    to me.
    The flying saucer story is hysterical.

    I am going to send this to my daughter.   I know she will be interested.    If she hasen't
    read it already!

    genkicoll

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    Re: News in Autism and Related Disorders

    Post by genkicoll on Thu Oct 02, 2014 10:57 pm

    Here's what we know about the causes of autism

    Posted at vox.com Oct. 2, 2014

    What causes autism?

    It's a seemingly simple question. But decades of research have told us that the answer is remarkably — and frustratingly — complex.

    As researchers have worked to unravel the disorder's nature, they've come to grips with some unsatisfying facts. One is that it doesn't even make sense to think of autism as a single, discrete condition. "Not all autisms are created equal," says Evan Eichler, a University of Washington geneticist who studies the roots of autism. "There are many different types of autism, just like there are many different types of liver cancer, or breast cancer."

    It's a combination of inherited genes, random mutations, and environmental factors

    On the whole, autism is characterized by difficulty in social interactions and communication. But the diagnosis of autism covers people with a huge range of behaviors and symptoms, which are often arranged along the autism spectrum.

    These different forms of autism appear to be triggered by different, interacting causes. It's not genetics or environment, but both — a combination of inherited genes, random genetic mutations, and environmental factors like a mother's immune system and nutrition during pregnancy. In most cases, scientists still aren't sure exactly how these factors actually lead to the disorder.

    Further, there are many other factors that are still poorly understood and need to be more fully investigated. Before proceeding, though, it's necessary to mention one thing that has been ruled out: vaccines. Years of research have turned up absolutely no link between vaccines and autism.

    With all that said, here's a look at what we do know so far about the causes of autism.

    Inherited genes from parents



    "We've known for almost 30 years that autism is highly heritable," says Daniel Geschwind, a UCLA geneticist who studies the disorder. We know this for a simple reason: autism tends to run in families, even when controlling for environmental factors.
    One study found that for a child who has a sibling with autism, his or her own risk is 18.7 percent — much higher than the prevalence in the overall population, which is about .67 percent. Other studies have found slightly lower rates of recurrence among siblings, but all show that being related to someone with autism makes a person more likely to have it as well.
    Why is this the case? It turns out that a number of genes, passed from parents to child, can increase the risk of autism. "In the last ten years or so, genetic studies have led to the identification of many dozens of gene mutations that increase susceptibility to autism," Geschwind says.


    'No single gene accounts for more than one percent of cases'

    This doesn't mean, however, that autism is anything like sickle-cell anemia, haemophilia, or other diseases caused by a single gene. In fact, it's at the other end of the spectrum — as Geschwind says, "there is no single gene that accounts for more than one percent of autism cases."

    The genes implicated can be roughly split into two groups. Some of them are present at low levels in the general population, and the vast majority of people who have them do not have autism. Still, they make autism more likely. Researchers speculate that many of these genes — perhaps in combination with environmental factors or random mutations — are needed to give rise to the disorder.

    The second group of genes are much more rare, and increase someone's chance of autism much more significantly. But on the whole, each of these genes individually account for a very small percentage of all autism cases.

    Researchers are still figuring out exactly what both types of genes do, but many seem to be involved in the early stages of brain development in the womb, perhaps regulating the types of neurons that form and the synaptic connections between them. This is the same stage during which environmental factors appear to have an effect, raising the likelihood that the two sets of factors work in concert in some cases.

    Random mutations in sperm or egg cells



    More recently, researchers have uncovered a different set of genetic influences: mutations that occur randomly in a sperm or egg cell before a child is conceived, leading to autism.

    Until about a decade ago, these sorts of mutations weren't thought to be especially important. But at several labs, researchers have found that a significant percentage of children with autism have DNA with large-scale copy number variations — instances where stretches of identical DNA erroneously repeat several times over.

    "We initially found that about nine percent of kids with autism had these events," says Evan Eichler, who directs a University of Washington lab that studies genetic mutations. "That gave us an idea. Maybe it's not inherited variation that we should be focused on —maybe we should be looking for sporadic mutations."

    This explains why older fathers are more likely to have children with autism

    These sporadic mutations occur in all your cells, all the time, due to mistakes made by the enzymes that replicate each cell's DNA prior to it dividing into two. But they can be harmful when they occur in developing sperm or egg cells, as the mutation is passed on to all the cells of a child in the event of conception.

    Eicher's lab and others have identified a huge number of these random mutations that appear to be associated with an increased autism risk — as many as 500 to 1000 different mutations. It's still unclear how exactly they contribute to autism, but early estimates are that they might cause as much as 30 percent of cases.

    This explains the striking finding that older fathers are more likely to have children with autism. That's because these sorts of sporadic mutations occur at a steady rate over time, so older fathers' sperm typically contains more of them — on average, two more mutations per year. (This doesn't explain a similar trend seen in women, because new egg cells aren't made after puberty.)

    Preliminary research suggests that particular types of mutations are associated with different forms of autism, in terms of behavior. People with autism who have a mutation in a gene called CDH8, for instance, have been found to share several symptoms, including difficulty sleeping and digestive problems.

    Additionally, a child's sex appears to have some role in affecting the way the genes are expressed. It's well-established that the disorder occurs in males at a greater rate than females — the latest estimates are that it's nearly five times more common — but recently, researchers found that the women who do have autism actually have higher numbers of mutations.

    "This suggests there might be a protective effect involved with being female," says Sebastien Jacquemont, one of the geneticists involved in the discovery. In other words, a female might be able to tolerate a higher number of mutations associated with autism without demonstrating symptoms, compared to a male.

    It's still unclear whether this is the case — and, if it were, how such a protective effect might work — but it could explain the disparity in autism cases by gender.

    Folic acid deficiency in the mother



    At least two sets of causes that involve the mother's health — and the conditions in which a fetus develops in the womb — have been identified.

    One is nutrition: in particular, folic acid. "We found that mothers who took prenatal vitamins with folic acid by the first month of pregnancy have kids with lower autism rates," says Ivra Hertz-Picciotto, a UC Davis epidemiologist who has led the CHARGE Study, a long-term effort to identify environmental causes of autism. "The ones who started early — within the first few weeks of pregnancy — had about a 40 percent reduced risk." After the first couple months of pregnancy, taking the supplement had no effect.Other studies have come to similar conclusions.

    'Mothers who take folic acid by the first month of pregnancy have kids with lower autism rates'

    Doctors have long recommended that mothers who are pregnant (or trying to get pregnant) take folic acid for a different reason: they help prevent neural tube defects, a group of severe birth defects that often result in death. But because the vitamin is involved in brain development, a lack of it may also interfere with development in subtler ways.

    This factor seems to interact with genetics. Hertz-Picciotto's group has looked at the effect of folic acid supplements on two different groups of mothers: those who have a gene that lets their bodies easily process the vitamin into a usable state, and those who naturally have a tougher time processing it, and may need more folic acid to begin with. Not taking supplements during early pregnancy had a particularly strong effect in increasing autism rates among children of the second group — suggesting that both a lack of supplements and a gene variation may work in concert to give rise to autism.

    Excessive inflammation during pregnancy


    Another factor that seems to be involved is the mother's immune system during early stages of pregnancy. "We found that women who had fevers but took an anti-inflammatory didn't have kids with higher autism rates. But untreated women did," says Hertz-Picciotto. This is also true for mothers who have the flu and bacterial infections during pregnancy, or suffer from celiac disease or rheumatoid arthritis, both autoimmune disorders that involve excessive inflammation.

    It's unclear why this is the case, but she and other researchers hypothesize that in response to fevers and infections, some mothers produce antibodies that interfere with the fetus' immune system, which ultimately alters with brain development. This idea is supported by experiments in which pregnant mice are injected with infective agents, and give birth to offspring with higher rates of autism-like symptoms, such as anti-social behavior.

    The idea could also explain why many individuals with autism often have problems with immune system regulation and excessive inflammation "Their immune systems sometimes seem to be over-responsive, and sometimes under-responsive, to challenges by pathogens," Hertz-Picciotto says. "They don't seem to be calibrated quite right." In this sense, some forms of autism could be understood as an autoimmune disease, inadvertently passed from mother to child.

    Other, uncertain factors


    On top of the environmental causes identified above, there are many more that may be involved in causing autism, but need to be more closely studied.

    One is air pollution. As part of the CHARGE Study, researchers have found a correlation between levels of several different types of air pollution during pregnancy and a child's risk of autism.


    One of the strongest correlations is for pesticide exposure — one study found that pregnant mothers who lived within three quarters of a mile of agricultural fields where a class of pesticides called organophosphates were sprayed had a 60 percent higher chance of having a baby who'd be diagnosed with autism.



    There's a correlation between levels of air pollution during pregnancy and a child's risk of autism


    Organophosphates were also used in home pest control products until 2000, when the EPA mandated that they be replaced by a class of pesticides called pyrethroids. But studies have found similar correlations between autism and pyrethroid exposure as well.


    It's possible that these correlations are the result of other, unrelated factors. But, as Hertz-Picciotto says, the fact that these are chemicals specifically designed to disrupt the nervous system makes it plausible that they might play an active role in causing autism. Several other types of neurotoxins, including pthalates (present in many products, like building materials and packaing) and flame retardants, are also under investigation.


    Other researchers are considering environmental factors — like the number of ultrasounds a fetus experiences during pregnancy, the degree of prenatal stress the fetus experiences in the womb, and lead poisoning during early childhood. At the moment, though, there isn't yet strong evidence for any of them.


    Do vaccines cause autism?


    The current scientific evidence does not show a link between vaccines and autism, but at least one prominent autism advocacy group supports further research into the issue.

    In a broad analysis of vaccines and their adverse effects, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) concluded vaccines are not linked with autism or other serious medical problems, including type 1 diabetes. The study looked at vaccines for various diseases, including MMR (mumps, measles, and rubella), HPV, and hepatitis A, and found no serious side effects to be prevalent.

    The same IOM report did identify some other, less-serious side effects, such as fever and allergic reactions.

    IOM's findings align with previous research. One meta-analysis published in the Oxford Journals concluded vaccines and thimerosal, a mercury-containing compound found in some vaccines, do not cause autism. Another study published in Pediatrics found timely vaccination produced no adverse effects on neuropsychological outcomes 7-10 years after the vaccines were administered.

    The Lancet in 2010 also retracted a 1998 study that tied MMR vaccines to autism. The study received widespread criticism from the scientific community, and an independent regulator found the study seriously flawed. It was, however, circulated for years by anti-vaccine critics as proof of their claims.

    The organization Autism Speaks acknowledges the current scientific findings and recommends parents get their children vaccinated. But the group says the causes of autism — and any possible links to vaccination — deserve more study.

    The Autism Science Foundation dismisses any connection between vaccines and autism. ASF's leaders formed the organization after they split from Autism Speaks — in opposition to plans to fund more research into any potential links between autism and vaccination.

    http://www.vox.com/2014/10/2/6839869/autism-causes-genetics-environment


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