About Autism News and Views

Autism News and Views will provide regular updates on news about Autism. In addition, we have provided important links to a wide variety of web sites that will provide you with information on Education, Health, Safety, Advocacy, Service Providers and much more. Use Autism News and Views as your source for the best information on the Autism Spectrum.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Parents: We Can Help You-- Now; Review of the Literature & More Puzzle Pieces Are Starting To Fit

"The difference between high-functioning and low-functioning is that high-functioning means your deficits are ignored, and low-functioning means your assets are ignored." Laura Tisoncik.

Information For Parents:

I often get emails from parents asking me for help, information and resources.
As a result, I would like to alert all parents to the plethora of information on this blog devoted to resources and information for parents. For example, in addition to the many resources, providers and schools listed, there's a special section entitled, "Resources 4 Parents."

In this section, parents will find parent and family friendly web sites such as Child Parent Autism Cafe, practical ways to help manage and plan daily living with autism. Parent 2 Parent USA which offers emotional and informational support for parents of children with special needs. Another very useful web site is Families for Early Autism Treatment. FEAT, as it's well known, provides best outcome Education, Advocacy and Support for the Northern California Autism Community. Any parent will find useful information on this outstanding web site. Parents Helping Parents offers a multitude of services for families and children with special needs. Autism Inspiration is an online resource for parents and teachers of children with autism.

The bottom line is Autism News and Views can assist parents in finding answers to their questions. It can also assist parents in finding appropriate services. I suggest parents spend some time and navigate Autism News and Views. I'm confident it can be a valuable resource to all of you.

Review of the Literature:

In the last several years, we've learned a lot more about autism. I thought it might be a good time to review some of that literature.

  • Nature reported on the molecular changes in the brain caused by autism earlier this year. The study pointed out how proteins and genes become distorted and alter the molecular structure of the brain. According to Dr. Daniel Geschwind, principal investigator at UCLA's David Geffen's School of Medicine, "In a healthy brain, hundreds of genes behave differently from region to region, and the frontal and temporal lobes are easy to tell apart." He added, "We didn't see this in the autistic brain. Instead the frontal lobe closely resembles the temporal lobe. Most of the features that normally distinguish the two regions had disappeared." The researches intend to study what happens to other regions of the brain in individuals with autism.
  • Dr. Manny Alarez, a parent of a child with autism and medical contributor to Fox News, has long advocated for early intervention. He recently reported on research at Bradley Hospital in Rhode Island. In short, researchers are doing studies based on the concept autism has genetic origins. Their ultimate goal?--is to develop a blood test that could diagnose autism.  The researches have been mapping genetic changes of families with autism. Over 1000 families have been enrolled in this study. The scientists discovered that some of the genetic changes associated with autism are new--meaning they occurred spontaneously in the parent's sperm or egg. The conclusion here is clear--at least in this study--the autism gene is not inherited. It appears to be a new genetic event. Obviously more research is needed and is certainly welcomed. If this study holds up--we can see a great new day for new therapies and interventions.
  • In 2009, Italian researchers Massimo Castagnola, Irene Messana, Maria Torrioli and Fiorella Gurrieri, found evidence of abnormal proteins in the saliva of people with autism. Of the 27 children with autism, they found that at least one in four proteins in 19 children in the autism group (compared to the control group) had significantly lower levels of phosphorylation. Phosphorylation activates proteins to function normally. (Science Daily).  Note from News and Views Editor: Caution needs to be taken with this study until a larger sample of individuals with autism is undertaken. 
  • The University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health launched a multi-year study to help identify environmental and other factors that may put children at risk for developing conditions within the autism spectrum. Approximately 75 parents will be asked to participate in this study over the next three years (Medical News Today).
  • The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders reported on a study that found a higher incidence of autism in regions rich with IT and computer industries. 62,000 school children were studied in three Dutch cities. In Eindhoven, 30% of all jobs are in the IT and computer sectors. The incidence of autism was double that of one city, Haarlem and four times that found in Utrecht. Because of this new data, researchers warn that communities within high-tech areas should be on the alert for autism among children and employees.
  • A 2006 study by the University of California at San Diego and the Mind Institute at UC Davis found that men and boys with autism  have fewer neurons in the brain that are involved with memory and emotion (NPR).
  • There is relatively new hope that autism can be diagnosed by a simple brain scan. King's College Institute of Psychiatry Research team hope the brain scans might be a useful diagnostic tool. Thus far, their work shows a 90% success rate in detecting all males with ASD. The team scanned the brains of 20 men diagnosed with ASD and 20 who were not between the ages of 20 and 68 (UK Guardian).
  • The Journal Neuron reported that toddlers with autism exhibit brain activity that appears to be out of sync at a very early age. "...we found that the synchronisation was different--specifically in toddlers with autism and across the hemispheres (of the brain) in areas related to language and communication." These studies may help in diagnosing autism earlier.(Reported by the Montreal Gazette)
You know that puzzle we keep talking about? Well, the studies above--and many, many more--are showing the puzzle pieces are starting to fit together. And that's very good news.

Up-Coming Events:
  • Women and Girls on the Autism Spectrum. Thursday, July 14, 2011. London. For more information e-mail: conference@nas.org.uk
  • Fitness for Health and DC Autism Parents. July 31, 2011. Rockville, MD. Serving ages 7-13. Contact:301.231.7138 for more information.
  • New Orleans Autism/Aspergers Super Conference. July 14-15, 2011. New Orleans. Contact: 800.489.0727 for registration and information.
  • Race Across the Spectrum: 5k for Autism. Saturday, July 16, 2011. Contact: Brown Center for Autism. Nashville, TN. 615.385.7994.
  • 42nd Autism Society National Conference and Exhibition. July 6-9, 2011. Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando, Fl. Conact: 301.657.0881, ext. 9010.
  • I Care4Autism, International Autism Conference: Autism A Global Perspective. Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Bronx, NY.  Wed. July 6, 2011, 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM. Contact: 718.686.9600, ext. 1150.
4 Your Bookshelf:

I decided to include some "blasts from the past" in this edition's recommendations of books on autism. Check these out at your leisure:

  • The Autism Sourcebook: Everything You Need To Know About Diagnosis, Treatment, Coping and Healing by Karen Siff Exkorn.
  • Could It Be Autism: A Parent's Guide To The First Signs And Next Steps by Nancy D. Wiseman.
  • Behavioral Intervention For Young Children With Autism: A Manual For Parents And Professionals by Caherine Maurice, Gina Green And Stephen C. Luce.
  • The Oasis Guide To Asperger Syndrome: Advice, Support, Insight and Inspiration by Patricia Romanowski Bashe and Barbara L. Kirby.
Jerry Komar, M.Ed.