Monday, September 14, 2020

Cannabis and autism, explained

Over the past decade, autistic people and their families have increasingly experimented with medical marijuana and products derived from it. Many hope these compounds will alleviate a range of autism-related traits and problems. But scientists are still in the early stages of rigorous research into marijuana’s safety and effectiveness, which means that people who pursue it as treatment must rely mostly on anecdotal information from friends and message boards for guidance.
Here we explain what researchers know about the safety and effectiveness of cannabis for autism and related conditions

Archived Webinar - Repetitive Behaviors and Autism

Repetitive behaviors are one of autism’s core features and can be sensory or motor based, such as hand-flapping, or more cognitive in nature, such as intensely focused interests. Autistic people may engage in repetitive behaviors as a way to relieve anxiety or for fun — and for this reason, such behaviors deserve careful management.

View the webinar here at Spectrum. 

A Guide to Identifying and Understanding Scientific Research About Autism

This article is a tool to help you assess information about autism based on scientific principles. As you put these recommendations into practice, remember to use critical thinking and common sense when assessing any claim about autism. Combining an understanding of scientific research studies with your own powers of reasoning can help you: 
  • Make evidence-based decisions
  • Understand recommendations from your care team and discuss them knowledgeably
  • Minimize overwhelm
  • Advocate for yourself or your family member with autism. 

Archived Webinar - Family-Centered Planning and ASD

Research demonstrates the effectiveness of Family-Centered Transition Planning in increasing student and parent expectations for adult life, student career decision-making, and student participation in employment and post-secondary education. Learn the latest sustainable processes for implementing a Family-Centered Transition Planning model for youth and young adults with autism spectrum disorders.

View the webinar here at the Autism Research Institute.

Social Capital and Autism in Young Adulthood: Applying Social Network Methods to Measure the Social Capital of Autistic Young Adults

What was the purpose of this study?

Many autistic young adults are disconnected from people, communities, and organizations that could provide them with valuable social resources to support their transition to adulthood. This study tests the feasibility of using social network methods to measure the resources that autistic young adults gain from their social connections. Future studies using our social network measure might provide valuable information about possible interventions that could help autistic youth acquire the social resources needed for successful adult outcomes.

I Have Tourette's and He's on the Autism Spectrum. Here's How We Have Sex

When people with neurodevelopmental disorders that affect their social communication capabilities—like Paul and Grace, an older couple who, respectively, have Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, and Tourette’s syndrome and some related problems with focus and impulse control—talk about their their sex lives, it can make outsiders (even doctors and family membersfeel uncomfortable. Many such people assume that the communication issues conditions like these pose should desexualize those with them—that they simply wouldn’t or shouldn’t pursue physical intimacy.

But this is not necessarily a reflection of people with these or similar conditions’ sexualities. Most have the same sexual needs and relationship capabilities as neurotypical individuals. People with autism and similar disorders may just struggle with forming and maintaining relationships without early, ongoing, and tailed education on, and support in exploring these topics.

Read more here at Vice. 

Archived Webinar: Michelle Failla and David Moore on pain in autism

On 29 July, 2020, Michelle Failla and David Moore gave a webinar on pain in autism, which focused on sensations, emotions and behaviors.

View the webinar here at Spectrum. 

Motor difficulties in autism, explained

 Most autistic people — 87 percent, according to the latest estimate — have some sort of motor difficulty, ranging from an atypical gait to problems with handwriting1. These issues are distinct from the repetitive behaviors considered to be a hallmark of autism. And yet, despite their prevalence, motor problems are not considered a core trait of autism, because they also occur with other conditions, such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Here, we describe what experts know about the causes, characteristics and consequences of motor difficulties, which they say are among the least understood and most neglected aspects of autism. They also call on researchers to better assess motor difficulties in autistic people and for clinicians to treat these problems, especially because motor setbacks may have consequences far beyond simply impeding movement.

Read more here at Spectrum. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Researchers urge caution over study linking marijuana to autism

Women who use marijuana while pregnant may be more likely to give birth to an autistic child, according to a study published last week in Nature Medicine1.
The findings generated widespread press coverage, but researchers are calling for a cautious interpretation of the results — in part because the association surfaced through an analysis of birth records, not a controlled study.

Cues Club/Teen Chat Fall Session - Helena 2020

Fall session begins Monday September 28th  and Friday October 2nd!  
Parents have been indicating interest for their child to have social opportunities and we want to make that happen using safe precautions.  This fall we will offer classes for 5-7, 8-10,  11-12, 13-15, and 16-18 years of age.  For those registered for the 12 and under classes there will be two children in each class and the older level classes will range from 2-3 teens. Masks will be required.  Based on interest we will accommodate to provide more than one class for each age group.  Specific times will then be determined.  To register or should you have questions contact Chris Caniglia at 406-461-2853 or through []  

Communication Skills for Employment was quite successful this past summer and is offered over the Fall.  Classes begin September 28th from 4:30-5:30.  Contact Jon Metropoulos through email at    
We look forward to having your child or teen participate in this session to learn how to navigate their social world.

Spotting the problems with ‘camouflaging’ in autism research

Autistic people may feel pressure to fit in at work or at school, or they may pick up mannerisms to help them get by in a society that is not set up to accommodate them. Scientists and autistic people describe such thoughts and behaviors as ‘camouflaging.’
Over the past few years, research on camouflaging has expanded rapidly. Some autistic women, for example, have reported that they camouflage their autismso well that they did not receive a diagnosis until adulthood. And studies show these women have brain activity in regions associated with social interactions that more closely resembles that of their typical peers than that of other autistic women. Researchers have sought to quantify camouflaging as the mismatch between an autistic person’s self-reported autism traits and their traits as measured by the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS). They have also suggested that more women camouflage than men do.
But some of this work is misguided, argues Eric Fombonnedirector of autism research at the Institute on Development and Disability at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. In an editorial last month in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, he laid out the problems he sees with this burgeoning field of study1.