Autism Research: August 23rd Week in review

CC BY-SA by Egan Snow

CC BY-SA by Egan Snow

Spanish to help detect autism in Latino kids

A study published in the Pediatrics has found that only 1 out of 10 pediatricians were performing the recommended screening for developmental delay in Spanish due to which Latino children were being diagnosed with autism lesser and much later than other children. The study investigated a pediatrician role in poor detection rates and found that 3 out 4 physicians had access, cultural/communication barriers in detecting ASD in Spanish speaking children. The study concluded that distributing culture specific material and promotion of language specific screening along with increased availability of ASD specialists might help increasing detection rates in Latino children.

Centre uses video game specialist to help autistic children learn interaction

The UT-Dallas’s Centro for Brain Health has employed Carl Lutz, an animator and game studio owner, and his team to design interactive games for autistic children. The center wanted to recreate a social environment but which was totally safe for children with autism and similar social deficits could learn and practice interaction. They thought of bringing in Carl Lutz to create a virtual interactive environment called the Brainville because three things make video-games autism friendly- they are fun, they hold focus and are safe when one fails. The result is children are comfortably attempting conversations that they otherwise never would. The participants at the center can practice applying for multiple jobs at the virtual bookstore, coffee shop and apartment building of Brainville.

Risk of autism recurrence in younger sibling seven times higher, study reveals

 A new study headed by Therese Gronborg at Denmark assessed siblings for autism risk and found a risk of 4.5 to 10.5 percent, much higher than the average 1.18 percent risk in the Danish populace. The study published in JAMA Pediatrics is the first one to consider the risk of ASD recurrence in half and full siblings. The team headed by Therese analyzed 1.5 million children born from 1980-2004. The study suggested a seven fold increase in risk for ASD if at least one older sibling was on the autism spectrum compared to no ASD in any older sibling. Although the study is not conclusive of anything, it supports indirectly the theory that genetics play a major role in autism and that maternal uterine environment during pregnancy could be one of the important factors worth considering in autism aetiology.

Virus utilised to genetically reverse Rett Syndrome as ASD

Researchers have managed to successfully reverse the symptoms of the most disabling of all autism spectrum disorders, Rett Syndrome, in a field trial in mice with all symptoms. Normal genes were introduced into the mutant mice using a microorganism called adeno-associated virus, which is harmless to humans. Despite just a few cells receiving the therapy, there was improvement in motor function, seizures and tremors, Saurabh Garg and Dr. Gail Mandel noted. The research published in Journal of Neuroscience is critical towards a future where genetic therapy could be made available to masses to correct genetic mutations like autism, etc.

I.Q. remains stable throughout life, London study says.

 A study conducted by Patricia Howlin and her team in London at the Institute of Psychiatry studied children diagnosed with autism for 40 years. The team concluded that the IQ of children with autism remained more or less stable throughout the span that they tracked the individuals.