Links for Keyword: Autism

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Sara Reardon Mothers with high levels of the pesticide DDT in their blood during pregnancy are more likely to bear children who develop autism, according to a study of blood samples from more than one million pregnant women in Finland. The World Health Organization estimates that globally, one in 160 children has autism. Any case of autism is likely due to a number of factors, including genetics and other environmental exposures. Although the authors stress that the findings do not prove that autism is caused by DDT — whose use has been banned in many countries for decades over concerns about its effects on wildlife— it is the first such association using a direct measure of exposure to the pesticide. Researchers who investigate links between environment and disease say that further studies are needed to determine the mechanism, if any, by which DDT exposure could trigger autism. The study, published on 16 August in the American Journal of Psychiatry1, also examined mothers’ exposure to another set of chemicals known as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and found no association between these substances and autism. That finding deepens questions about whether or how DDT might be linked to autism. © 2018 Springer Nature Limited

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 5: Hormones and the Brain; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 25346 - Posted: 08.17.2018

by Lindsey Bever New research has shown that a common childhood vaccination given to pregnant women does not put their children at any increased risk of autism. A Kaiser Permanente study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics found no association between the prenatal Tdap (for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, also known as whooping cough) vaccine and autism spectrum disorder when looking at tens of thousands of children in the hospital system. It is the latest in a long line of studies showing that there is no link between vaccines and autism. Despite the abundant scientific evidence, a persistent conspiracy theory has misled some parents into fearing vaccines. “If any woman had any hesitancy, she can be reassured,” Tracy Becerra-Culqui, lead author and postdoctoral research fellow with Kaiser Permanente Southern California's department of research and evaluation, told The Washington Post. When not vaccinated, she said, “the risk of getting whooping cough is greater than any perceived risk of harm to the baby, so it should be a no-brainer to accept the vaccine.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American College of Nurse-Midwives encourage expectant mothers to get the Tdap vaccine in the third trimester of pregnancy to protect babies from bacterial infections that can be fatal for infants. © 1996-2018 The Washington Post

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 5: Hormones and the Brain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 25332 - Posted: 08.15.2018

By Jessica Wright, Boosting levels of the chemical messenger serotonin makes mice that model autism more social, according to a study published in Nature. The study suggests the approach may do the same in people with autism. It also offers an explanation for why antidepressants do not ease autism traits: They may increase serotonin levels too slowly to be effective. The researchers used a technique that rapidly increases serotonin levels in the nucleus accumbens, a brain region that mediates social reward. “Somehow, the release of serotonin in the nucleus accumbens really plays an important role in enhancing sociability,” says lead researcher Robert Malenka, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University in California. “The simple hypothesis is it makes the social interaction more reinforcing.” Decades of research have suggested a connection between serotonin and autism. About 10 years ago, this led researchers to test antidepressants, which increase serotonin levels by blocking its reabsorption into neurons, as a treatment for autism. However, in several trials, antidepressants such as fluoxetine (Prozac) proved ineffective at easing the condition’s features. The new study suggests that a drug that rapidly activates serotonin receptors would be a more effective way of treating the condition. © 2018 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 5: Hormones and the Brain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 25323 - Posted: 08.13.2018

Maria Temming Google Glass may have failed as a high-tech fashion trend, but it’s showing promise as a tool to help children with autism better navigate social situations. A new smartphone app that pairs with a Google Glass headset uses facial recognition software to give the wearer real-time updates on which emotions people are expressing. In a pilot trial, described online August 2 in npj Digital Medicine, 14 children with autism spectrum disorder used this program at home for an average of just over 10 weeks. After treatment, the kids showed improved social skills, including increased eye contact and ability to decode facial expressions. After her 9-year-old son, Alex, participated in the study, Donji Cullenbine described the Google Glass therapy as “remarkable.” She noticed within a few weeks that Alex was meeting her eyes more often — a behavior change that’s stuck since treatment ended, she says. And Alex enjoyed using the Google Glass app. Cullenbine recalls her son telling her excitedly, “Mommy, I can read minds.” Unlike most children, who naturally learn to read facial expressions by interacting with family and friends, children with autism often have to hone these skills through behavioral therapy. That typically involves a therapist leading the child through structured activities, like exercises with flash cards that depict faces wearing different expressions. But therapists are so few and far between that a child diagnosed with autism can spend 18 months on a waiting list before starting treatment. |© Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2018

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 25283 - Posted: 08.02.2018

By Ceylan Yeginsu LONDON — Dim the lights. Silence the piped-in music. Turn down the checkout beeps. For an hour on Saturdays, a British supermarket chain is introducing a weekly “quieter hour” aimed at helping people with autism have a better shopping experience by easing sensory overload. The move by the supermarket, Morrisons, which begins on Saturday and runs from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., has been welcomed by the National Autistic Society, which says that even small changes can make a big difference in the lives of people with autism and their families. “Around 700,000 people are on the autism spectrum in the U.K.,” Tom Purser, of the National Autistic Society, said in an email. “This means they see, hear and feel the world differently to other people, often in a more intense way, which can make shopping a real struggle.” Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people communicate and relate to others and how they experience the world around them. More than 60 percent of people with autism avoid shops, and 79 percent say they feel socially isolated, according to figures published by the society. Morrisons’s effort is part of the National Autistic Society’s “Too Much Information” campaign: Last year, more than 5,000 retailers across Britain participated in “Autism Hour.” The society hopes to expand the initiative. Morrisons, the fourth-largest supermarket chain in Britain, said in a statement on its website, “Listening to customers, we found that one in five had a friend or family member with autism and many liked the idea of being able to shop in more comfort at 9-10 a.m. on a Saturday.” In the statement, Angela Gray, part of a community group that builds ties with the supermarket, is quoted as saying: “I was involved in the initial trial as my son is autistic, and we found that these changes made a real difference. The trial showed there is a need for a quieter shopping experience for some customers.” © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 5: Hormones and the Brain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 25230 - Posted: 07.20.2018

By Vikram K. Jaswal and Nameera Akhtar One of the most widely held beliefs about autistic people — that they are not interested in other people — is almost certainly wrong. Our understanding of autism has changed quite a bit over the past century, but this particular belief has been remarkably persistent. Seventy-five years ago, the first published account of autism described its subjects as “happiest when left alone” and “impervious to people.” Even now, a National Institutes of Health fact sheet suggests that autistic people are “indifferent to social engagement,” and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims that some “might not be interested in other people at all.” There is no question that autistic people can seem as though they are not interested in others. They may not make eye contact or they may repeat lines from movies that don’t seem relevant in the moment. They may flap their hands or rock their bodies in ways that other people find off-putting. But just because someone appears socially uninterested does not mean that he or she is. As we point out in a paper published last month in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, many autistic people say they are very interested in, and in some cases desperate for, social connection. They experience loneliness, say they want friends and even prefer two-player games to one-player games. As the autistic author Naoki Higashida writes, “I can’t believe that anyone born as a human being really wants to be left all on their own, not really,” adding, “The truth is, we’d love to be with other people.” So why do autistic people act in ways that make it appear they want to be left alone? Autism is a neurological condition that affects how people perceive, think and move. Autistic people say that some of their apparently unsociable behaviors result from these neurological characteristics. Paradoxically, they may behave in these ways when they are trying to engage with other people. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 5: Hormones and the Brain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 25209 - Posted: 07.16.2018

Tina Hesman Saey MADISON, Wis. — Giving children with autism a healthier mix of gut bacteria as a way to improve behavioral symptoms continued to work even two years after treatment ended. The finding may solidify the connection between tummy troubles and autism, and provide more evidence that the gut microbiome — the collection of bacteria and other microbes that live in the intestines — can influence behavior. “It’s a long way from saying there’s a cure for autism,” says Michael Hylin, a neuroscientist at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale who was not involved in the work. “But I think it’s a promising approach. It’s one that’s worthwhile.” Children with autism spectrum disorders often have gastrointestinal problems. In previous studies, environmental engineer Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown of Arizona State University in Tempe and colleagues discovered that children with autism had fewer types of bacteria living in their guts than typically developing children did. And many of the kids were missing Prevotella bacteria, which may help regulate immune system actions. The researchers wondered whether altering the children’s cocktail of gut microbes to get a more diverse and healthier mix might help fix both the digestive issues and the behavioral symptoms associated with autism. In a small study of 18 children and teenagers with autism, the scientists gave kids fecal transplants from healthy donors over eight weeks. During and two months after the treatment, the kids had fewer gastrointestinal problems, including diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain and indigestion than before the therapy. Autism symptoms, such as hyperactivity, repetitive actions and irritability, also improved and seemed to be getting even better at the end of the trial than immediately after treatment ended, the team reported last year in Microbiome. But no one knew whether the improvements would last. |© Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2018.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 25202 - Posted: 07.13.2018

By Rachel Zamzow, The brains of children with autism fold differently than those of their typical peers, two new studies suggest. But whether they are unusually smooth or convoluted depends on location and age. Certain regions of the brain’s outer layer, the cerebral cortex, are more intricately folded in school-age children and adolescents with autism than they are in controls, according to one of the studies. In young people, this folding difference may be the most obvious structural feature of the autism brain, says Ralph-Axel Müller, professor of psychology at San Diego State University, who led the study. Their brains don’t tend to show overall differences in brain volume or surface area, for example. “It seems like [brain folding] is actually a rather sensitive anatomical metric,” he says. By contrast, preschoolers with autism do not show exaggerated folding unless they have enlarged brains, according to a second study. And one brain region is atypically smooth in preschoolers with autism. Together, the studies add to evidence that folding follows a different developmental path in autism brains than in controls. “That is fascinating,” says Greg Wallace, assistant professor of speech, language and hearing sciences at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., who was not involved in either study. “Having autism is going to affect developmental trajectories of all kinds of things, including cortical structure,” he says. © 2018 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 5: Hormones and the Brain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 25190 - Posted: 07.10.2018

By Hannah Furfaro, It was a sunny California afternoon in January 2015 when Dennis Wall received an unexpected gift: ‘smart glasses’ made by Google that had failed to live up to their hype in the press. An employee from the company pulled up to Wall’s lab at Stanford University in a sleek gray Tesla, popped open the sedan’s trunk and unloaded a brown cardboard box with long, dangling cords. It was a scene straight out of the television comedy “Silicon Valley,” which satirizes the absurdity of the tech world. Wall’s ambition for the Google Glass, however, is dead earnest: He aims to help people with autism interpret others’ emotions. Many people with autism have trouble understanding social cues and emotions, and this can greatly limit how they fare in the world. Wall developed an algorithm that relies on artificial intelligence. His plan was to incorporate the algorithm into the glasses, so that someone wearing the glasses would see a tiny emoticon that matches the expression on the face of another person. The algorithm was all set to go, and Wall had been waiting for the glasses to test his idea. “It was lifesaving for us because we were desperate to get started,” he recalls. © 2018 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 25166 - Posted: 07.02.2018

By Seth Mnookin In February 1981, a British psychiatrist named Lorna Wing published an academic paper highlighting a 1944 clinical account of “autistic psychopathy” by a recently deceased Austrian physician named Hans Asperger. It wasn’t an obvious piece of work to single out: As Wing acknowledged, Asperger’s study had received almost no attention from English-language researchers in the decades since publication. That was about to change. Wing argued that the disorder that Asperger had described was a unique syndrome, distinct from autism, and should be considered as one of “a wider group of conditions which have, in common, impairment of development of social interaction, communication and imagination.” Wing, whose daughter had been diagnosed with autism in the 1950s, understood from her own experience that this was a disorder with multiple gradations, which affected people across the full spectrum of intellectual abilities. But this was a radical notion: At the time, one of the dominant paradigms for understanding autism was that the condition was caused by “refrigerator mothers” — emotionally frigid women who were not warm enough to nurture developing children. It’s impossible to know why Wing chose to ground her report in Asperger’s rather flimsy research — his paper, after all, had referenced just four patients — rather than relying solely on her own, significantly more impressive work. (It is worth pointing out that then, as now, virtually all eponymous psychiatric conditions were named after men.) Whatever her motivation, Wing’s efforts were successful: “Asperger’s syndrome,” the term she proposed, soon entered the clinical vernacular. By the 1990s, it was recognized around the world as an accepted diagnosis — and autism was no longer viewed as a singular condition. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 5: Hormones and the Brain; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 25140 - Posted: 06.26.2018

By Sarah DeWeerdt, The Research on Autism and Development (RAD) Laboratory is located in a Tetris-like maze of brown wooden buildings, not far from the main campus of the University of California, San Diego. The lab itself is a nondescript warren of small beige rooms. But everything else about it is extraordinary. The first clue is a T-shirt one of the lab’s young interns wears on this sunny day in April, featuring the RAD Lab’s motto: “We play mind games.” One of the newer recruits, 20-year-old Naseem Baramki-Azar, sports a “Super Mario Bros.” shirt. A half-dozen other lab members huddle around computer screens displaying none of the usual fare of charts or spreadsheets: Instead, they’re hard at work making cartoon moles pop out of molehills, or fat spaceships careen toward the top of a computer screen. The lab’s director, Jeanne Townsend, and associate director, Leanne Chukoskie, periodically poke their heads in to check on the progress. The two women, a generation apart, are a study in contrasts. Townsend is reserved, with dark-framed square glasses; Chukoskie is a fast-talker with a California blond ponytail. But they finish each other’s sentences when they talk about their quest: to develop video games that can help children with autism. The project has stretched the two neuroscientists in unfamiliar directions. “I find myself doing a lot of computer science these days,” Chukoskie says. They are also fledgling entrepreneurs. Last year, they launched a startup, BrainLeap Technologies, also based in San Diego. That step, Chukoskie says, filled her with a mix of unenthusiastic “eh” and dread-filled “ugh.” Despite their discomfort, these two scientists are part of a growing cadre braving video-game development in search of novel therapies for autism. © 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 5: Hormones and the Brain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 25132 - Posted: 06.23.2018

By Jessica Wright, Spectrum o Young people with autism have more psychiatric and medical conditions than do their typical peers or those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a new study suggests. The early onset of these problems suggests they do not stem solely from a lifetime of poor healthcare, says lead researcher Lisa Croen, director of the Autism Research Program at Kaiser Permanente, a managed healthcare provider based in California. “One possible explanation is that there’s something physiologic or genetic that’s underlying not only what falls into the definition of autism, but also physical health and, more broadly, mental health,” she says. Some of the problems in young people with autism, such as obesity, may be related to poor diet, medication use and limited physical activity, says Alice Kuo, associate professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved in the study. Several studies have documented the co-occurrence of psychiatric and medical conditions in people with autism. Croen’s team published a similar analysis in 2015 of adults with autism aged 18 to 74. (The oldest control was 92.) © 2018 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 5: Hormones and the Brain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 25100 - Posted: 06.18.2018

By Hannah Furfaro, Spectrum Boys with autism have smaller heads, are shorter and weigh less at birth than their typical peers do—but all that changes by age 3, a new study suggests. The new work is among the first to link autism to rapid skeletal growth. “Mapping physical growth as well as growth in head circumference is really important because it implicates a lot of other mechanisms that might be involved, not just the brain,” says Cheryl Dissanayake, professor of developmental psychology at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, who co-led the work. Advertisement The findings hint that children with autism are smaller in utero, but their growth then accelerates: They catch up and surpass typical children in height and head size between birth and age 3. The results from the new study contrast with those from a 2014 report that found no difference in the rate of head or body growth between infants at risk for autism and controls. But many other studies have found differences in head size in children and adolescents with autism. “It’s now quite clear that growth dysregulation is a key and important phenomenon in autism,” says Eric Courchesne, co-director of the Autism Center of Excellence at the University of California, San Diego, who was not involved in the research. Growth spurt: The researchers reviewed growth charts for 135 boys with autism and 74 typical boys who live in Victoria, Australia. (They excluded children taking medications that affect growth and those born prematurely.) © 2018 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 5: Hormones and the Brain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 25078 - Posted: 06.11.2018

Aimee Cunningham American kids with food allergies are more than twice as likely to have autism spectrum disorder as kids without, a study of national health data finds. The population-based finding adds to experimental evidence that there may be a connection between false steps or overreactions by the immune system and the neurodevelopmental disorder. Researchers looked only for an association between allergies and autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, among a total of 199,520 children ages 3 to 17 surveyed from 1997 to 2016 as part of the U.S. National Health Interview Survey. The study was not designed to discover what may be behind the link. The team found that, out of 1,868 children with autism, 216 had a food allergy — or about 11 percent. By comparison, only about 4 percent of children without autism had a food allergy, the researchers report online June 8 in JAMA Network Open. Kids with autism were also more likely to have respiratory or skin allergies like eczema than kids without autism. The number of children with autism has more than doubled since 2000, to a prevalence of 16.8 per 1,000 kids. Meanwhile, the number of kids with food allergies rose from 3.4 percent in 1997–1999 to 5.1 percent in 2009–2011. It is unknown whether developing food allergies may contribute to the development of autism, or vice versa, or if something else is causing both, says study coauthor and epidemiologist Wei Bao of the University of Iowa’s College of Public Health in Iowa City. “The causes of ASD remain unclear,” he says. |© Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2018.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 5: Hormones and the Brain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 25072 - Posted: 06.09.2018

/ By Michael Schulson Biswaroop Roy Chowdhury is an Indian engineer with, he says, an honorary Ph.D. in diabetes science from Alliance International University, a school in Zambia that bears many of the hallmarks of an online scam. He runs a small nutrition clinic near Delhi. Two months ago, Chowdhury posted a brief video on YouTube arguing that HIV is not real, and that anti-retroviral medication actually causes AIDS. He offered to inject himself with the blood of someone who had tested positive. Within weeks, the video had more than 380,000 views on YouTube. Tens of thousands more people watched on Facebook. Most of the viewers appear to be in India, where some 60,000 people die of HIV-related causes each year. After the March video, Chowdhury kept on posting. Follow-up videos on HIV racked up hundreds of thousands more hits. He also distributed copies of an ebook titled “HIV-AIDS: The Greatest Lie of 21st Century.” When I spoke with Chowdhury by phone last month, he claimed that 700 people had gotten in touch to say they had gone off their HIV medications. The actual number, he added, might be even higher. “We don’t know what people are doing on their own. I can only tell you about the people who report to us,” he said. Chowdhury’s figures are impossible to verify, but his skills with digital media are apparent — as are the troubling questions they raise about the role of Silicon Valley platforms in spreading misinformation. Such concerns, of course, aren’t new: Over the past two years, consumers, lawmakers, and media integrity advocates in the United States and Europe have become increasingly alarmed at the speed with which incendiary, inaccurate, and often deliberately false content spreads on sites like Facebook and YouTube — the latter a Google subsidiary. Copyright 2018 Undark

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 5: Hormones and the Brain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 25065 - Posted: 06.07.2018

By Jessica Wright | A new patent on variants in an autism gene is unlikely to hold up in court, some experts say, but may still hamper research. In December, LabCorp, a healthcare diagnostics company in Burlington, North Carolina, received a patent that appears to cover any test that can identify three variants in the gene HOMER1. The patent relates to the testing of these variants to signal an increase in autism risk in a child or fetus. But the patent might also allow LabCorp to charge a licensing fee to any scientists who wish to sequence HOMER1 in people who may have autism. The patent revives a debate that many scientists hoped was behind them. In 2013, in response to the controversy over a breast cancer gene patent, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that genes cannot be patented. “Gene patents restrict access to genetic tests; they restrict access to confirmatory testing and second opinions; they squelch sharing of data and they squelch research,” says James Evans, who headed a government advisory task force on the impact of gene patents. “That should be a settled issue, so it’s very depressing to see that at least in some people’s minds, it’s not.” Evans is professor of genetics and medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. © 1986-2018 The Scientist

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 5: Hormones and the Brain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 25043 - Posted: 06.01.2018

By Darold A. Treffert How many children have “autism”? Is that number increasing? Is there an “epidemic” of autism or have we merely been continually refining it, expanding it and moving the goalposts since it was first described by Leo Kanner in 1943? I met my first child with autism in 1959, almost 60 years ago. I had the good fortune to learn about autism firsthand from Kanner himself, when he was a visiting professor at the University of Wisconsin Medical School and I was a medical student there. Then, in 1962, I started a Children’s Unit at Winnebago Mental Health Institute in Wisconsin, on which almost all the children were autistic. That’s also the unit on which I met my first savant. The question of autism prevalence engaged me even then. In 1970, I carried out the first U.S. study of the epidemiology of infantile autism, published in Archives of General Psychiatry. Actually, autism was then most commonly diagnosed formally as childhood schizophrenia. At that time, the Wisconsin Department of Health and Human services provided me with a printout listing all patients age 12 and under seen for evaluation or treatment and given a diagnosis of childhood schizophrenia between fiscal 1962 and 1967 in 30 community mental health and child guidance clinics; four state and county mental hospitals; three colonies NOT REAL NAMES and training schools; and the children’s treatment center, children’s diagnostic center and university hospitals. © 2018 Scientific American,

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 5: Hormones and the Brain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 25014 - Posted: 05.24.2018

By Simon Baron-Cohen, The Austrian paediatrician Hans Asperger has long been recognized as a pioneer in the study of autism. He was even seen as a hero, saving children with the condition from the Nazi killing programme by emphasizing their intelligence. However, it is now indisputable that Asperger collaborated in the murder of children with disabilities under the Third Reich. Historian Herwig Czech fully documented this in the April 2018 issue of Molecular Autism (a journal I co-edit; see H. Czech Mol. Autism 9, 29; 2018). Now, historian Edith Sheffer’s remarkable book Asperger’s Children builds on Czech’s study with her own original scholarship. She makes a compelling case that the foundational ideas of autism emerged in a society that strove for the opposite of neurodiversity. Advertisement These findings cast a shadow on the history of autism, already a long struggle towards accurate diagnosis, societal acceptance and support. The revelations are also causing debate among autistic people, their families, researchers and clinicians over whether the diagnostic label of Asperger’s syndrome should be abandoned. In 1981, psychiatrist Lorna Wing published the paper in Psychological Medicine that first brought Asperger’s clinical observations to the attention of the English-speaking medical world, and coined the term Asperger’s syndrome (L. Wing Psychol. Med. 11, 115–129; 1981). A decade later, in the book Autism and Asperger Syndrome (1991), developmental psychologist Uta Frith translated into English the 1944 treatise by Asperger in which he claimed to have discovered autism. © 2018 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 5: Hormones and the Brain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 24989 - Posted: 05.18.2018

By Lina Zeldovich, You can draw a straight line from the initial descriptions of many conditions—claustrophobia, for example, or vertigo—to their diagnostic criteria. Not so with autism. Its history has taken a less direct path with several detours, according to Jeffrey Baker, professor of pediatrics and history at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Autism was originally described as a form of childhood schizophrenia and the result of cold parenting, then as a set of related developmental disorders, and finally as a spectrum condition with wide-ranging degrees of impairment. Along with these shifting views, its diagnostic criteria have changed as well. Here is how the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the diagnostic manual used in the United States, has reflected our evolving understanding of autism. Why was autism initially considered a psychiatric condition? When Leo Kanner, an Austrian-American psychiatrist and physician, first described autism in 1943, he wrote about children with “extreme autistic aloneness,” “delayed echolalia” and an “anxiously obsessive desire for the maintenance of sameness.” He also noted that the children were often intelligent and some had extraordinary memory. As a result, Kanner viewed autism as a profound emotional disturbance that does not affect cognition. In keeping with his perspective, the second edition of the DSM, the DSM-II, published in 1952, defined autism as a psychiatric condition—a form of childhood schizophrenia marked by a detachment from reality. During the 1950s and 1960s, autism was thought to be rooted in cold and unemotional mothers, whom Bruno Bettelheim dubbed “refrigerator mothers.” © 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 5: Hormones and the Brain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 24959 - Posted: 05.10.2018

By Simon Baron-Cohen Five years ago, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) established autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as an umbrella term when it published the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), the primary guide to taxonomy in psychiatry. In creating this single diagnostic category, the APA also removed the subgroup called Asperger syndrome that had been in place since 1994. At the 2018 annual meeting of the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR), there will be plenty of discussion about diagnostic terminology: Despite the many advantages of a single diagnostic category, scientists will be discussing whether, to achieve greater scientific or clinical progress, we need subtypes. The APA created a single diagnostic label of ASD to recognize the important concept of the spectrum, since the way autism is manifested is highly variable. All autistic individuals share core features, including social and communication difficulties, unusually narrow interests, a strong need for repetition and, often, sensory issues. Yet these core features vary enormously in how they are manifested, and in how disabling they are. This variability provides one meaning of the term spectrum, and the single diagnostic label ASD makes space for this considerable variability. The term spectrum also refers to the heterogeneity in autism. There are huge disparities in many areas, such as language development or IQ, and in the presence or absence of co-occurring medical conditions and disabilities. This heterogeneity is also part of what is meant by a spectrum. And some autistic people also have very evident talents. This is another sense of the term spectrum, and the single diagnostic label makes room for this source of diversity, too. © 2018 Scientific America

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior; Chapter 5: Hormones and the Brain
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 24943 - Posted: 05.05.2018