News/Announcements

Below is a small selection of published autism research. Many articles do not appear here either because we are not aware of them ... but more often because the research has not reached a stage that warrants reporting generally.

Majority of autism risk resides in genes, multinational study suggests

About 81 percent of autism risk comes from inherited genetic factors, according to an analysis of more than 2 million children from five countries, published today in JAMA Psychiatry1.

The study is the largest yet to estimate the heritability of autism risk in a multinational population. The findings are consistent with results from a large 2017 study of twin and non-twin sibling pairs in Sweden that suggested about 83 percent of autism risk is inherited2. A third study — also in Sweden and also in twins — reported in 2010 that these factors contribute to about 80 percent of autism risk3.

The new study improves upon the previous work by analyzing multiple generations of families from several countries.

Can gut bacteria cause autism (in mice)?

High profile study claims mice show “autism-like” behaviour. But does the evidence stack up?

Jon Brock

Two weeks ago, a paper published in the journal Cell claimed to provide evidence that microbes in the gut contribute to the development of autism. The researchers, led by Gil Sharon and Sarkis Mazmanian at the California Institute of Technology, found that mice with gut bacteria from autistic children exhibited more “autistic-like” behaviours than mice whose gut bacteria came from non-autistic children.

We transplanted gut microbiota from human donors with ASD or TD controls into germ-free mice and reveal that colonization with ASD microbiota is sufficient to induce hallmark autistic behaviors.

Have your say on the future of autism research

Today we call on autistic Australians, families, carers, and the broader autism community to have their say on the future of autism research priorities. Individuals and organisations involved in providing services and supports, as well as managing policy that affect autistic people and the autism community are also asked to contribute.

The outcome of this community consultation process will help guide the future focus of autism research activities and research funding in Australia.
 

Are Children Severely Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder Underrepresented in Treatment Studies? An Analysis of the Literature

Abstract

Despite significant advances in autism research, experts have noted that children severely affected by autism spectrum disorder (ASD) appear to have been understudied. Rigorous analysis of this observation has been limited, and the representation of severity has not been well-described. We assessed three domains of severity (communication ability, cognitive functioning, and adaptive functioning) in 367 treatment studies of children with ASD published 1991–2013. We found that the proportion of studies that included the severely affected population decreased significantly over time, as well as wide variability in measurement and reporting. Inadequate representation of the full autism spectrum in the literature could lead to an unbalanced picture of ASD and leave behind those with arguably the greatest need.

Social stigma contributes to poor mental health in the autistic community

University of Surrey

Stress related to social stigma may be the reason why autistic people experience more mental health problems than the general population, dispelling past theories that the condition itself is the origin of such distress.

In the first study of its kind, published in the Journal of Society and Mental Health, researchers from the University of Surrey and University College London examined how stress related to social stigma, such as discrimination and rejection, impacts on the mental health of autistic people.

Children with autism showing increasing anxiety through primary school – study

Deborah Marshall

A world-first autism study has found high levels of anxiety in children as young as five years old with autism attending Australian schools, and that levels of generalised anxiety increase as they get older.

Published in the Journal of School Psychology this week, the study surveyed teachers using a standardised ranking method to identify anxiety symptoms of 92 children aged 5-12 years in mainstream and special schools.

Researchers from the Griffith University Autism Centre of Excellence analysed two groups of children – those who had just started school and those about to move from primary to high school.

Autism CRC: draft national guidelines on ASD diagnosis wants community consultation

Autism CRC logo

The diagnostic process for children, adolescents and adults referred for assessment of autism spectrum disorder in Australia: National guideline draft for community consultation

Background

There is currently no consistent process across Australia for how an individual is assessed for a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This inconsistency has led to uneven service provision across the Australian states and territories, along with confusion within the community about the diagnostic process. The aim of this guideline is to define a diagnostic assessment process that is acceptable to consumers, feasible to conduct, effective in delivering accurate diagnostic decisions, and comprehensive in guiding future clinical management.

What happens to children who move off the autism spectrum? Clinical follow-up study.

Abstract

Background

There is controversial information on outcome of school age individuals who lose the diagnosis of autism and achieve “optimal outcome” (OO). The present study assessed the autism symptoms and other psychiatric disorders in a group of children with a past history of autism.

Factors influencing the probability of a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder in girls versus boys

Abstract

In order to shed more light on why referred girls are less likely to be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder than boys, this study examined whether behavioral characteristics influence the probability of an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis differently in girls versus boys derived from a multicenter sample of consecutively referred children aged 2.5-10 years.

Survey about autistic girls

Yellow Ladybugs is conducting a survey about autistic girls, girls diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

More information about the survey, and the survey itself, are at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/yellowlad...


This survey is focused on the experience of autistic girls, aged under 18 years old.  

We invite parents, carers and autistic girls under 18 to respond to this very important survey.  

Words say little about cognitive abilities in autism

Nearly half of children with autism who speak few or no words have cognitive skills that far exceed their verbal abilities, according to the largest study of so-called ‘minimally verbal’ children with autism to date1. The findings call into question the widespread assumption that children with autism who have severe difficulty with speech also have low intelligence.

“What I think is really interesting is that among children who have very limited levels of language, there is more cognitive variability than you might expect,” says lead investigator Vanessa Bal, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco.

Sharing Treatment Decisions in Autism May Challenge Doctors and Parents

CHOP Researchers Find Gaps in Knowledge, Communication about ASD Treatment Choices

Parents of young children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may experience significant difficulties in discussing treatment options with the child’s pediatrician, according to new research. Among the barriers are problems with communication, physicians’ lack of knowledge about specific ASD treatments and community resources, and uncertainty about the pediatrician’s role in making treatment recommendations for a child with ASD.

Many parents in the study reported that they did not discuss the choice of any treatment options with their pediatricians, and others said their physicians provided only general recommendations or referrals. The study team suggests that tools such as decision aids and practice guidelines may help foster more effective communication between families and pediatricians.

Variability of autism/ASD prevalence between Australian states

The histogram shows the prevalence calculated from the population of children who receive Carer Allowance for Autistic or Asperger's Disorders (DSM-IV) or Autism Spectrum Disorder (DSM-5) at June 2014 relative to the ABS population numbers for the age group ... on both a national and a state/territory basis. 

There is clear variability in diagnosis rates between states/territories with the Northern Territory, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory having notably lower diagnosis rates for autism/ASD, well below the national average.

Autism’s brain signature lingers even after loss of diagnosis

BY   /  1 APRIL 2016

Roughly 7 percent of children with autism eventually lose their diagnosis, swapping social problems and language difficulties for more typical skills and behaviors. But it is unclear whether this transition is associated with a return to typical brain function or reflects a compensatory process.

Autism biobank could lead to early detection of disorder, researchers say

Australia's first autism biobank will open in Brisbane on Monday, paving the way for what researchers hope will lead to an earlier and more accurate diagnosis of the disorder.

Nearly 5,000 samples of blood, hair and urine, taken from autistic children, their parents and a control group, will be stored in freezers and could one day deliver the answers to what causes the condition.

Autism Queensland said parents typically raised concerns when their child was 12 months old, however in general they did not get diagnosed until at least two years later.

PhD student presents research to United Nations

PhD student Alexa Pohl took on the impressive duty of speaking at a thematic briefing for the United Nations (UN). Ms Pohl, who has just entered the final year of her PhD, was asked to speak as a disability advocate at a briefing for the Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979 and defines what constitutes discrimination against women, as well as outlining the ways in which such discrimination can be eliminated. The Convention represents a large body of work by the Commission on the Status of Women – an intergovernmental body dedicated to gender equality and empowerment of women – and is often referred to as the international bill of women’s rights.

estimates of autism prevalence in the USA 2014 are 2.24% or 1 in 45

In the USA, another report shows autism rates of 2.24% or 1 in 45: see http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr08...

These latest values bring the results of three national surveys of autism prevalence into alignment. In addition to the NHIS, the US also identifies autism prevalence values from the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network (ADDM) and the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH). The most recent results from the NSCH put autism prevalence at 1 in 50 children. This latest NHIS prevalence of 1 in 45 converges on that finding, and the agreement among the studies strengthens their conclusions.

see http://www.forbes.com/sites/emilywilling...

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