New Therapy Reduces Severe Symptoms of Autism


While the outstanding world’s scientists are looking for the causes of autism and its treatment, the best treatment is found at home… The recently published results of the 6-years study have shown that parents can actually be trained to treat autism pretty successfully.

The teams from the University of Manchester, King’s College London and Newcastle University have provided this long-term study and reported in the Lancet Medical Journal. They tested 152 children from 2 to 4 years old in a study called the Preschool Autism Communication Trial (PACT), which began six years ago.

“To our knowledge, this study is the first study to report long-term symptom outcomes to middle childhood (7-11 years) following a randomized controlled trial of early intervention in young children,” the team wrote.

Parents were trained to watch for the child’s cues. They got 12 therapy sessions during 6 months, monthly support sessions for the next 6 months and were asked to spend at least 20-30 minutes playing with their children. This “playing time” was recorded and examined by the therapists and parent.

“The parent studies these videos alongside the therapist and learns how to be able to better interpret the child’s often indirect and unusual communications – to see that, behind the unusualness, what the child is actually intending to communicate is often just like any other child,” said Jonathan Green of the University of Manchester, who led the study. “The parent learns how to respond to these child communications in a way that we believe will encourage in turn children’s social understanding. Also of course, like anyone, if the child feels they are understood and can make themselves understood, they are likely to feel happier and less stressed. The advantage of this approach over a direct therapist-child intervention is that it has potential to affect the everyday life of the child.”

The study showed that the effect of such interaction therapy lasts for long and greatly improves the communication-related symptoms of autism.

It’s not a “cure” and no evidence of any effect on child’s mental health was found. Autism spectrum disorder usually combines other disabilities and disorders such as hyperactivity disorder, cerebral palsy or other learning disorders.

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Neurofibramatosis Type 1 And Autism


Resent researches have shown that people with a rare tumor syndrome, neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) have symptoms of autism. The disorder is caused by the mutation of a gene on chromosome 17. This chromosome is responsible for control of cell division. It’s a common genetic disorder, which is not limited to any specific race or sex.

People with this disorder have brown spots on the skin, freckles in the armpits or around groin, tiny bumps on the iris of the eye, learning disabilities, vision disorders, mental disabilities, epilepsy. The resent study has shown that people with this disorder also inherit autism symptoms. The symptoms usually occur in childhood. 50% of people with NH1 symptoms inherited it from their parents.

The researchers think that the study’s findings may help the scientists to understand autism’s nature.
“What’s unique about our findings is that it’s likely mutations in the NF1 gene are driving most of the symptoms of autism in children with NF1,” said John N. Constantino, the Blanche F. Ittleson Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics and senior author of the study. “Here, we have a single-gene disorder that affects a fairly large number of people and is causing autism in a significant number of those who are affected. This work could provide us with an opportunity to study a single gene and figure out what it is doing to cause autistic syndromes.”

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What Happens to Autistics when They Get Older?


Autism Spectrum Disorder is a relatively new disorder. It was first mentioned in 1943 and not regularly notified until the 1970’s. When we hear about autism, we usually think children. However, those who were diagnosed with ASD in the 70’s and later are all grown up and we can learn more about the symptoms of autism in adulthood.

There is an opinion that symptoms may reduce as people get older. This was based on the reports from individuals with ASD and their families. Recent research sheds some light on this subject, as well as some new questions.

The group of researchers from Autism Diagnostic Research Centre in Southampton assessed 146 adults who were seeking a diagnosis of autism between 2008 and 2015. Individuals were aged between 18 and 74 years old. 100 were diagnosed with autism and 46 were not. The further analysis showed that age and severity of autism were linked. It proved that the severity of autism symptoms in social situations, communication and flexible thinking, increase with aging. Older people with autism were more likely than younger people to extract rules from situations and preferred structure. This pattern didn’t occur in the 46 people group who didn’t have autism. However, it’s still unclear whether this symptom to extract rules is a “worsening” factor or a general tendency among all older people.

Surprisingly, people diagnosed with autism later in life, had more severe symptoms than those who were diagnosed earlier. Though, the group diagnosed with autism were faster on tests measuring speed of thinking during a task and did better when dealing with visual and shape information. Obviously, these abilities have helped adults with autism develop strategies across their lives and cope with their symptoms. It may explain why they haven’t been diagnosed with autism before.

A high level of depression was found in both groups, with autism and not. Depression among older adults increases the risk of developing problems in memory and cognition.

It is still unclear whether people with autism age in the same way as people without autism. However, it is clear that older people in the study showed more severe symptoms of autism.

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Sensory Processing Disorder VS. Autism


You may wonder what the difference between autism spectrum disorder and sensory processing disorder is. There are children who are sensitive to certain food and textures, loud noises and have difficulty transitioning. Parents suspect autism but instead their child is diagnosed with sensory processing disorder, also known as SPD. SPD is a condition in which the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses. Formerly referred to as sensory integration dysfunction, it is not currently recognized as a distinct medical diagnosis.

Children who are diagnosed with SPD require a lot of stimulation in order to become alert and active, which is often a behavior that children on the autism spectrum display. However, it doesn’t mean that a child with SPD necessarily has autism. People with autism may exhibit a large variety of symptoms such as “being non-verbal or delayed in speech, obsessive interests, low to no social skills, avoiding eye contact, unusual eating and sleeping habits, meltdowns, and unusual mood or emotional reactions.” According to the STAR Institute for Sensory Processing Disorder statistics, at least ¾ of children with autism have significant symptoms of SPD but most children with a diagnosis of SPD does have autism.

Parents should remember that SPD is a disorder that affects how the nervous system receives messages from the senses. The brain doesn’t know how to process the message which leads to overreaction or vice versa. However, children with autism have brain differences in the areas related to facial emotions and memory.

It takes time for SPD to be seen as a standalone disorder, and once it’s diagnosed, it doesn’t mean that your child has autism.

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Some Types of Maternal Infection Can Cause Autism

Maternity is a special period of time in the life of every woman. It’s a nine month long expectation for a little miracle, but also it is also a time when women are vulnerable and fragile.

On June 7th, Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, publisher resent studies results based on data from over 4.6 million children, more than 46000 of whom have autism. The studies showed that severe infection during pregnancy increase the risk of having an autistic child by 12% on average. The time, type, site and severity of an infection multiply its impact on autism risk. The researchers discovered that the infection during the first trimester doesn’t have a significant impact on autism development, but when it occurs during the second or third trimester, it increases the risk of autism by 13-14%.

Bacteria, parasites, fungi and unknown pathogens increase autism risk in children by 18% or more. Interesting enough, but this recent study refuted the suggestion that influenza can cause autism. The researches determined that those infections that affect genitals, urinary tract and skin are linked to autism and those that affect digestive or respiratory systems are not. Because genital and urinary tract infection can affect the development of the fetal in the immediate nearness to the womb and skin infection can be a sign that there is a problem with the immune system.

We wish you all to take good care of yourself and be healthy!

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