New research findings in neuroscience for the first time points to a developmental system linking the disease–causing mutation in an autism–related disorder, Timothy syndrome, and observed defects in brain wiring. The present study reveals that a mutation of the disease–causing gene throws a key process of neurodevelopment into reverse. That is, the mutation underlying Timothy syndrome causes shrinkage, rather than growth, of the wiring needed for the development of neural circuits that underlie cognition. This finding may have wide–reaching implications in neuroscience, as impaired dendrite formation is a common feature of many neurodevelopmental disorders.
Clinical trial finds intensive treatment highly effective for children with high-functioning autism
Results of this randomized clinical trial found the comprehensive summer treatment to be effective in improving the social performance and clinical symptoms of children with HFASDs. Following the 5–week program, children in the treatment group demonstrated significantly higher scores on child measures of non–literal language skills and knowledge of appropriate social behaviors, as well as significantly higher parent–ratings for targeted and broader social skills and significantly lower ratings of autism symptoms compared to children in the control group. Secondary staff ratings corroborated the significant gains reported by parents. A follow–up assessment 2–3 months post–treatment for the treatment group indicated that the significant gains in social functioning were maintained, and a positive trend suggested that the reduction in autism symptoms continued.
Blood test for autism in early stages
Earlier detection of autism, relying on markers in the blood, may help more children benefit from useful behavioral therapies. The new blood test for autism is fascinating, researchers say, because it seems to be at least as effective as any other genetic test for autism that doctors currently use. Scientists believe that autism has some genetic basis, based on genes that have been associated with the disorder, and the fact that the condition seems to run in families. But autism is a complex condition with many possible genetic determinants. And the precise genetic mechanism, or more likely mechanisms, are still poorly understood.