Autism Research: 12 June, 2015 Week in Review

ResearchAutism youngsters oversensitive to sensory stimuli wired differently

A new study conducted at the University of California-Los Angeles Health Sciences (UCLA) has found that youngsters on the spectrum that are oversensitive to sensory stimuli like light, noise, new environments, etc have brains that react differently compared to others. Using functional MRI (fMRI), a team of neuroscientists led by Shulamite Green studied youth with autism. They found that the brains of children with autism but without sensory over-responsiveness (SOR) were far closer to those of their typical peers without autism than those with autism having SOR. The findings of the study will be published this week in the e-edition of the prestigious JAMA Psychiatry. The brain responses in children with autism and SOR were very strong compared to non-SOR and typical peers.

Journal Reference: University of California – Los Angeles Health Sciences. “Youth on the autism spectrum overly sensitive to sensory stimuli have brains that react differently.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 June 2015. <>.


Earlier the intervention, better the outcomes in autism: study confirms

Researchers from the University of Washington led by Annette Estes, in a new study on children on the spectrum, confirmed that earlier intervention improved outcomes in the long-term. The study involved participation of children between 18 and 30 months of age with autism. The therapy involved parents as well therapists working hand in glove for over 15 hours each week for 2 years. The findings of the study will be published this week in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. The therapy used is called Early Start Denver Model or ESDM and is designed to improve learning, social skills and communication. At the end of 2 years, all participating children had improved significantly in intellectual ability and language skills along with reduction in symptoms of autism. With larger studies, this model could be introduced in schools, with training for the teachers to conduct the same.

Journal Reference: Annette Estes, Jeffrey Munson, Sally J. Rogers, Jessica Greenson, Jamie Winter, Geraldine Dawson. Long-Term Outcomes of Early Intervention in 6-Year-Old Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 2015; DOI: 10.1016/j.jaac.2015.04.005


Gender predilection not specific to autism: new study discovers

A new study is laying to rest the long- standing thought that autism has a predilection for boys. The study conducted at the University of Miami observed behaviors relevant to autism in both sexes only to find that, irrespective of the risk of autism, such behaviors were far more common in boys as against girls. One out of four high-risk boys as against one out of ten high-risk girls developed autism 3 years later in the study. The lead author Daniel Messinger said, stereotyped behaviors, specific to boys at that age, were the reason behind this bias, irrespective of the risk of autism. The study was published this week in the journal Molecular Autism.

Journal Reference: Daniel S. Messinger, Gregory S. Young, Sara Jane Webb, Sally Ozonoff, Early sex differences are not autism-specific: A Baby Siblings Research Consortium (BSRC) study. Molecular Autism, 2015; 6 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s13229-015-0027-y


Low GI diet cuts down autism symptoms: mice study reports

A new study from the prestigious Salk Institute in Netherlands has found that a diet with a low glycemic index (GI) can reduce symptoms of autism. Although the study showed results in mice, the findings of the study could be a path breaking new frontier in the treatment of autism. Published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, the study although yet to be conducted in humans, is a shining ray of hope and a ground breaking new opening in treatment of autism. Glycemic index of a food item is the percentage of how fast it raises the blood sugar on consumption and is used to help diabetics control their sugar levels. Its revolutionary to see that a low GI diet could reduce symptoms of autism and might be just the chink of autism armor that parents have been waiting for all this while.

Journal Reference: A Currais, C Farrokhi, R Dargusch, M Goujon-Svrzic, P Maher. Dietary glycemic index modulates the behavioral and biochemical abnormalities associated with autism spectrum disorder. Molecular Psychiatry, 2015; DOI: 10.1038/mp.2015.64