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Monday, August 30, 2010

Tae kwon do helps special-needs students

In some respects, Zach Randolph is like many of Brashear's students at the tae kwon do studio. Zach comes to class twice a week, where he learns the skills and disciplines of the Korean martial art. In less than three years the Nell Holcomb Elementary fifth-grader has progressed through seven levels of tae kwon do to his current level of brown belt. But Zach has had to deal with a challenge. He has Asperger syndrome, a developmental disorder related to autism. Among the symptoms typical of people with Asperger are clumsiness and difficulties in social interaction. While he is proud of his accomplishments in tae kwon do, Zach is equally happy with the progress in other areas of his life that he believes are the result of tae kwon do training
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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Autistic Children Slower to Integrate Multiple Stimuli

Children with autism spectrum disorders are slower at integrating various types of sensory information than those with a more typical development, researchers reported.The finding -- based on recordings of electrical activity in the brain -- is concrete evidence that children with autism spectrum disorders process information differently than typical children, according to Sophie Molholm, PhD, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, and colleagues.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Autism explosion half explained, half still a mystery

Why have the numbers of autism diagnoses ballooned in recent decades? Researchers have long claimed that changes to the way the condition is diagnosed are the main cause. But now a series of a studies have shown that diagnostic changes alone cannot account for the increase. They suggest that other causes, perhaps environmental factors, are also contributing to the rise in cases. "These studies give me the feeling that there must be a true increase in the number of children affected," says Tom Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health in Rockville, Maryland. The studies are the work of sociologist Peter Bearman at Columbia University in New York and colleagues. They have spent three years trying to disentangle the causes of the roughly sevenfold increase in autism rates seen in many developed nations over the past 20 years. They have identified three factors that are driving up autism rates, but found that these account for only half of the observed increase.
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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Quick brain scan could screen for autism.

A 15-minute brain scan could in future be used to test for autism, helping doctors diagnose the complex condition more cheaply and accurately.


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Monday, August 9, 2010

No evidence for using antidepressants in autism

By Elizabeth Cooney, Globe Correspondent | August 9, 2010 Children and adults with autism spectrum disorders have trouble with communication and social interaction. There are no drugs specifically approved to treat these problems, although antidepressants are sometimes recommended. But a new analysis finds no evidence that they help people with autism and some signs that they may cause harm in children. Dr. Katrina Williams of the University of New South Wales in Australia led a team that pooled the results of seven randomized clinical trials comparing antidepressants to placebos in a total of 271 people. Antidepressants are the most commonly prescribed psychiatric drugs for people with autism. The tested drugs — fluoxetine (Prozac), fluvoxamine (Luvox), fenfluramine (Pondimin), and citalopram (Celexa) — act on the neurotransmitter serotonin, which has been linked to some mood and behavior disorders in autism. People sometimes have obsessive-compulsive disorder, aggression, anxiety, or depression in addition to autism. Overall, the five trials in children showed no benefits. One trial of citalopram reported more side effects, including a prolonged seizure in one child. The two trials among adults showed slight improvement in symptoms, but the studies, of fluoxetine and fluvoxamine, were so small that Williams said they couldn’t be recommended on anything but a case-by-case basis. BOTTOM LINE: There is no evidence that antidepressants help children or adults with autism and some signs that they could harm children. CAUTIONS: The overall number of patients is small, and the trials used different measures for assessing the drugs’ effects. WHERE TO FIND IT: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 8
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Monday, August 2, 2010

The Geek Syndrome - Autism - and its milder cousin Asperger's syndrome- is surging among the children of Silicon Valley. Are math-and-tech genes to blame?

In the last 20 years, significant advances have been made in developing methods of behavioral training that help autistic children find ways to communicate. These techniques, however, require prodigious amounts of persistence, time, money, and love. Though more than half a century has passed since Kanner and Asperger first gave a name to autism, there is still no known cause, no miracle drug, and no cure. And now, something dark and unsettling is happening in Silicon Valley. Click here for full article.

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