Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Minds on the spectrum: Q and A with the author of Aspergirls

Autism Girls on the Spectrum: Q&A with the Author of Aspergirls Is Asperger syndrome really less common in girls and women, or are females just better than males at masking autistic symptoms? 

Rudy Simone, a San Francisco singer, writer and stand-up comic, didn’t learn that she was on the autism spectrum until her mid-40s. Simone has Asperger syndrome — a high-functioning form of autism that leads to social problems but no intellectual disabilities — which, like all forms of autism, appear much more commonly in boys than in girls. Ten times more men are believed to reside on the spectrum than women. But some experts think the real prevalence of Asperger’s in girls may be much higher than believed, because girls tend to be far better than boys at concealing its symptoms, masking social problems and hiding the repetitive behaviors often associated with autism. So, many women go undiagnosed until middle age, along the way given other labels and therapies that do not address their real issues. 

To help make up for the lack of resources available to girls with Asperger’s and their families, Simone wrote Aspergirls: Empowering Females with Asperger Syndrome. 

Healthland spoke with her recently

Ms. Simone presented in the follow Montana cities in 2012. 

April 25: Billings
Apri 26: Helena
April 27: Missoula
April 28: Kalispell


Monday, December 26, 2011

Los Angeles Times: Discovering Autism

The Los Angeles Times produced a series of articles called “Discovering Autism”. The series is in four parts and represents was researched for years. The articles are: Autism boom: an epidemic of disease or of discovery?Autism rates have increased twentyfold in a generation, stirring parents’ deepest fears and prompting a search for answers. But what if the upsurge is not what it appears to be? Warrior parents fare best in securing autism servicesPublic spending on children with autism in California varies greatly by race and class. A major reason: Not all families have the means to battle for coveted assistance. Families cling to hope of autism ‘recovery’An autism treatment called applied behavior analysis, orABA, has wide support and has grown into a profitable business. It has its limits, though, and there are gaps in the science. Autism hidden in plain sightAs more children are diagnosed with autism, researchers are trying to find unrecognized cases of the disorder in adults.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Top Ten Autism Research Achievements of 2011

The young but burgeoning field of autism research continued its exponential rate of discovery in 2011—fueled in no small part by the joint commitment by government health agencies and private organizations to support this vital work. Our Top Ten Autism Research Achievements of the year include game-changing discoveries in how frequently autism recurs in families and the extent to which “environmental,” or non-genetic, influences increase the risk of autism in those who are genetically predisposed to this developmental disorder. Autism research also went global as never before in 2011, beginning with a study in South Korea that used community screening to discover a far higher prevalence of autism—1 in 38 schoolchildren—than standard surveys of medical records would have revealed. Meanwhile, the increased pace of genetic discoveries moved autism research into the realm of translational research—with basic science advancing to a level that makes rational drug design possible. Research also delivered immediate benefits with evidence that adequate folic acid around the time of conception may lower autism risk and the validation of a method for screening at one year that may enable earlier intervention to improve children’s outcomes. As never before, our list of the year’s Top Ten Autism Research Achievements only scratches the surface of a tremendously exciting year of discovery. We hope you’ll enjoy. Table of Contents (Order does not imply relative importance.) It's More than Just Genes...Population Screening Reveals Dramatically Higher Autism Rates...Baby Siblings at Risk...De Novo Genetic Changes Provide New Clues for Autism...Different Forms of Autism Share Striking Brain Similarities...Prenatal Vitamins Before and After Conception May Decrease Autism Risk...Gene Knockout Mouse May Offer Leap Forward in Autism Animal Models...Tweaking Electrical Activity in the Brain Impairs & Restores Mouse Social Behaviors...More Evidence Linking Immune System to Some Forms of Autism...Earlier Autism Screening Shows Promise... Shows Promise...

 Click here for a PDF of the Top Ten Autism Research Achievements of 2011 


THe A-Word

Meet Cheryl, Mike, and their son Jack Riley, who was diagnosed with autism on November 2, 2010. Here, they speak about accepting autism.This is part of a series of videos about this family and their autism journey.

 Click here to watch the video.


Educators help teens with autism prepare for the future.

In order to help students inside and outside the classroom and to help them prepare for college, educators in the program rely on several techniques to help students socialize. The students meet with special services educators during the first and last periods of every school day, when they check-in with a teacher who also serves as a case manager. Often, the students rate their mornings, afternoons and weekends on a scale of “dreadful” to “perfect.” Previously, the special services department met with students in one classroom period, but the tutorial program added the end-of-the-day period in order to help students wrap up their days, Myerberg said. The checking-in and –out times are crucial because it can help teachers and the students prepare for the days ahead and help students process the events of a full school day, said Rebecca Garcia, special services teacher. Having two classroom periods has helped special services faculty expand skills sets students continually develop, Myerberg said. During the two classroom periods, teachers, a social worker, occupational therapist and speech pathologist work with students to expand their social and emotional skills, develop stress management techniques, increase self and environmental awareness, help students recognize their strengths and areas for improvement, and identify a social support system, according to the program’s curriculum. The special service educators also help the students work on time-management and organization, break down large assignments and plan for life beyond high school, Myerberg said.

Click here to read the full article.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

More Evidence that Melatonin Eases Autism-Associated Insomnia

When taken regularly, a nightly dose of melatonin helps children with autism and insomnia fall asleep, according to a pilot study published today. The 24 children, ages 3 to 9, who completed the 14-week treatment, differed somewhat in the dose they required. Yet in all cases, a nightly regimen of melatonin (1 – 6 mg) helped with sleep onset within a week’s time. The group data indicated that benefits generally lasted for the length of the study, with no significant side effects. Parents also reported improvements in their children’s daytime behavior and reductions in their own stress levels.

Click here to read more.


Autism Safety Project

Safety is a critical part of all of our lives, whether we are at home or out in the community, alone or with loved ones. Being aware of our surroundings and taking precautions to stay safe is even more important for individuals with autism and their families. The Autism Safety Project is designed to provide families affected by autism with tips, information, expert advice and resources so that everyone in our community can stay out of harm's way. The safety portal is broken down into sections to provide comprehensive and effective information regarding safety in all areas of our lives: Safety in the CommunitySafety in the HomeSexual AbuseInformation for First RespondersSafety

Resources Link here:


Friday, December 16, 2011

Differentiating Between Real Science and Fake Science

Pseudosciences are usually pretty easily identified by their emphasis on confirmation over refutation, on physically impossible claims, and on terms charged with emotion or false "sciencey-ness," which is kind of like "truthiness" minus Stephen Colbert. Sometimes, what peddlers of pseudoscience say may have a kernel of real truth that makes it seem plausible. But even that kernel is typically at most a half truth, and often, it's that other half they're leaving out that makes what they're selling pointless and ineffectual. If we could hand out cheat sheets for people of sound mind to use when considering a product, book, therapy, or remedy, the following would constitute the top-10 questions you should always ask yourself -- and answer -- before shelling out the benjamins for anything, whether it's anti-aging cream, a diet fad program, books purporting to tell you secrets your doctor won't, or jewelry items containing magnets:

 Click here to read more.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Autism researchers make exciting strides

Teaching young children with autism to imitate others may improve a broader range of social skills, according to a new study by a Michigan State University scholar. The findings come at a pivotal time in autism research. In the past several years, researchers have begun to detect behaviors and symptoms of autism that could make earlier diagnosis and even intervention like this possible, said Brooke Ingersoll, MSU assistant professor of psychology. “It’s pretty exciting,” Ingersoll said. “I think we, as a field, are getting a much better idea of what autism looks like in infants and toddlers than we did even five years ago.” In the current study, Ingersoll found that toddlers and preschoolers with autism who were taught imitation skills made more attempts to draw the examiner’s attention to an object through gestures and eye contact, a key area of deficit in autism.

 Link to full article.


Research identifies key autism intervention window

The behaviour of pre-school children with autism improves the most in the first six months of early intervention, research at RMIT University has shown. Dr Helen Chau investigated early intervention in pre-school children with autism or developmental delay as part of her PhD research at RMIT, comparing the effectiveness of intensive, one-on-one therapy sessions with more traditional centre-based early intervention approaches. Examining the impact of generic centre-based programs, autism-specific centre-based programs and home-based applied behaviour analysis (ABA) programs, Dr Chau found most behaviour improvement occurred in the first six months, irrespective of the early intervention approach taken. “Children who attended either home-based or centre-based early intervention for six months demonstrated a larger reduction of autism-related behaviours than in the following six months,” she said. “The different approaches both had benefits - centre-based programs tended to improve social competence, while home-based programs improved self-help skills. “While more hours of intervention per week was generally associated with more effective developmental outcomes, it was not clear from my research that the home-based programs led to substantially better outcomes for children with autism, compared with centre-based intervention.”

 Click here to read the full story.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Autism Speaks Releases ATN Visual Supports Guide

Autism Speaks Releases ATN Visual Supports Guide Pictures, photographs and other visual supports can greatly improve communication for children, adolescents and adults who struggle with understanding or using language. Today, Autism Speaks is pleased to introduce Visual Supports and Autism Spectrum Disorders, a guide for parents, teachers and medical professionals. This easy-to-use guide is for you if… √ You are a parent, caregiver or professional who is looking for visual tools to help someone with autism communicate.√ You have heard that visual supports may help your child, student or patient and want to know more about them. The guide is particularly helpful for those who have autism and … √ are non-verbal,√ have difficulty understanding social cues,√ have trouble following spoken instructions, or√ are anxious or act out when presented with surprising or unfamiliar situations.

See more here:


Unraveling an epidemic

Autism rates have increased twentyfold in a generation, stirring parents' deepest fears and prompting a search for answers. But what if the upsurge is not what it appears to be?

 Click here to read the article.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Living Life With Autism II: Perspectives

“Today people approach autism like some new thing that’s totally unprecedented that we can get rid of. It’s not new or novel, nor a public health epidemic. We are focusing too much on causation and cure. Of the $314,000,000 spent on autism research in the country, less than 1% goes to researching needs of autistic adults. We as a community have a problem with the focus being on the cure. The solutions offered are not in line with what we need and want."

 Click here to read more.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Autism May Involve Disordered White Matter in The Brain

It's still unclear what's different in the brains of people with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), but evidence from genetic and cell studies points to abnormalities in how brain cells (neurons) connect to each other. A study at Children's Hospital Boston now provides visual evidence associating autism with a disorganized structure of brain connections, as well as defects in myelin -- the fatty, insulating coating that helps nerve fibers conduct signals and that makes up the brain's white matter. Researchers led by Mustafa Sahin, MD, PhD, of the Department of Neurology, Simon Warfield, PhD, director of the Computational Radiology Laboratory, and first author Jurriaan Peters, MD, of both departments at Children's, used advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to image the brains of 40 patients (infants to age 25) with tuberous sclerosis complex and 29 age-matched, healthy controls. Tuberous sclerosis is a rare genetic condition often associated with cognitive and behavioral deficits, including ASDs about 50 percent of the time. "Patients with tuberous sclerosis can be diagnosed at birth or potentially before birth, because of cardiac tumors that are visible on ultrasound, giving us the opportunity to understand the circuitry of the brain at an early age," explains Sahin. "Our ultimate goal is to use imaging in infancy to find which tuberous sclerosis patients are at high risk for autism so we can intervene early. This may have implications for autism in patients without tuberous sclerosis as well." The team used a relatively new MRI technique called Diffusion Tensor Imaging to trace the pathways of nerve fibers by measuring the diffusion of water in the brain. In the January issue of the journal Academic Radiology, they report findings in the corpus callosum, the brain's largest white-matter structure that acts as a highway transferring signals between the left and right cerebral hemispheres. Of the 40 patients with tuberous sclerosis, 24 had clinically significant developmental delays or intellectual disability, and 12 had ASDs. ASDs were diagnosed clinically by a pediatric neurologist, and, in most cases, by the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS).

See more here:


Friday, December 2, 2011

Looking Normal Is Not Functioning



Prozac May Lessen Autism Symptom in Adults

The antidepressant Prozac appears to be useful for treating a defining symptom of autism spectrum disorder -- repetitive, compulsive behavior. In a newly published study involving autistic adults, half of those who took Prozac (fluoxetine) experienced meaningful declines in repetitive behaviors. Earlier studies by the same researchers showed the antidepressant to be effective for reducing repetitive behaviors in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), although a study from another research team failed to show an effect with the antidepressant Celexa (citalopram)

.Click here to read more.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Antipsychotics Linked To Increased Diabetes Risk

Children taking medication commonly prescribed to treat symptoms of autism and other developmental disabilities may be at increased risk for diabetes, according to a new study. Researchers found that kids and teens taking so-called second-generation antipsychotics like Risperdal, Abilify and Seroquel were four times more likely to develop diabetes than those who were not taking the drugs. And the condition came on fast, with an increased rate of occurrence appearing within one year of a child starting the drugs.
 Click here to read more.