Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Birth weight links autism, schizophrenia

The theory that schizophrenia and autism are opposing ends of a neurological continuum recently found support in a group of 1.7 million Danish babies. With this sample, Yale professor of ecology and evolutionary biology Stephen Stearns and two colleagues from the University of Copenhagen sought to understand how the struggle between maternal and paternal genes during development might manifest in neuropsychiatric disorders. Their results show that babies with lower than average birth weights have a higher risk of developing schizophrenia and a lower risk of developing autism, while babies with greater than average birth weights have a higher risk of developing autism and a lower risk of developing schizophrenia. While the finding cannot yet be used clinically for diagnosis, the discovery provides supporting evidence for the importance of the balance between parental genetic interests in utero, Stearns said.

 Read more here.


Brain differences in autistic males with early language delay

To conduct their study, the research team studied 80 adult men with autism - 38 of whom had delayed language onset - who were part of the Medical Research Council Autism Imaging Multicentre Study (AIMS). Delayed language onset occurs when a child's first meaningful words come out after 24 months of age, or when their first phrase occurs after 33 months. In the men who had delayed language onset, the researchers found that certain key regions of the brain had smaller volumes, including the temporal lobe, insula and ventral basal ganglia. Additionally, these men also had larger brainstem structures, compared with those who did not have delayed language onset. The team also observed a link between current language function and a specific pattern of grey and white matter volume changes in key brain regions, including the temporal, frontal and cerebellar structures. Dr. Lai says their study shows how the brains of autistic men differs, based on early language development and current language function, adding that this "suggests there are potentially long-lasting effects of delayed language onset on the brain in autism." However, when asked about whether their observations could suggest cause or effect, Dr. Lai told Medical News Today: "This is a correlation study of childhood development history to current neuroanatomy in adulthood so cannot directly test for causal relationship, which requires longitudinal dataset followed up from early childhood. We have not conducted studies in relation to this aspect now but are aware of longitudinal projects that may be potentially able to address this and related questions."

 Read more here. 


Monday, September 22, 2014

Webinar - AT for Common Core College and Career Readiness for Studentswith Significant Cognitive Disabilities Part 3: Independent Work Skillsand Social Skills

November 6, 2014 6:30pm CST - 60 minutes Description: In its inception, Special Education was never meant to be separate. It was intended to provide students the supports they need to be as successful as possible. This thought process includes independent work skills and social skills. This workshop will explore what kinds of strategies and supports that AT can afford a student in natural environments related to learning.

 Register here.


Friday, September 19, 2014


Brothers, Sisters and Autism: A Parent? Guide addresses a number of topics, such as explaining autism to your other children, and helping siblings as they deal with a wide range of tough feelings. This easy-to-use document includes a clickable directory, so parents don? have to scroll through all of the information to find a section that? especially relevant to what their family is currently experiencing.

For more sibling-related thoughts and advice, check out Say Hello, Yellow! This regularly updated blog is written by a mother-daughter duo who draw upon personal and professional experience to cover range of topics of related to families of people with disabilities (including autism) ?from the fun to the frustrating.

Life as an Autism Sibling: A Guide for Teens is a handbook for teenage (and even pre-teen) siblings, offering guidance on how to productively address the challenges that can arise from having a brother or sister with autism. The resource covers a variety of topics; from explaining autism to friends and peers, to coping with a family dynamic that? different from what friends may experience. It also features testimonials from other teenage and young adult siblings who have ?een there, done that.?lt;/p>

Autism, My Sibling, and Me is a fun and engaging workbook for young children between the ages of 5 and 10. A host of colorful cartoon characters accompany these siblings as they learn about what autism means for their brother or sister ?and deal with potentially stressful issues. Through fun activities and supportive content, this resource also helps children work through any autism-related questions and concerns they may have.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

New clues connect altered patterns of DNA tags to autism

Two new studies reveal changes in DNA methylation, a subtype of epigenetic modification, in autism and explore theories about where such alterations originate, whether in the womb or in sperm prior to fertilization. The first, published 2 September in Translational Psychiatry, shows that methyl groups are distributed differently in postmortem brains from people with autism than in control brains. Other studies have found altered methylation patterns in postmortem brains from people with autism, as well in their blood and cheek cells. The new study finds evidence of changes in new brain regions and genes. The researchers looked at methylation in the postmortem brains of 13 people who had autism and 12 controls. They focused on two regions in the cortex associated with atypical activity in people with autism: the prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate gyrus. Methylation patterns in these two regions look dramatically more similar to each other in autism brains than in control brains. This may be because the regions do not fully differentiate in autism brains, the researchers say. This finding fits with a 2011 survey of gene expression, which similarly showed fewer differences in expression patterns between brain regions in the postmortem brains of people with autism.

 Read more here.