Autism Research: October 25, 2103 Week in review

adn iconAutism kids high on psychiatric medication

As reported in Autism Daily Newscast on Oct 21st, a study has found that kids with autism are prescribed psychotropic medication in more than half the cases. At least one third children have taken a psychotropic drug more than once in their lives. The study lead by Donna Spencer from Minnesota studied use of psychotropic drugs for children with autism between 2001 and 2009. Over 35% kids had filed two prescriptions for psychotropic medications in less than a month apart.

The commonest drugs prescribed were anti-depressants, anti-psychotics and ADHD medications. Since the effects of such drugs are not too well known on young children, using such strong medications for children under 18 might have more serious consequences than currently thought of. Also, the utility of such medications has been well proven in such young children. The study published in Pediatrics  on 21st October shows that more research needs to be done on the treatment provided to children so young for autism and other associated disorders like ADHD and epilepsy. The efficacy, safety and benefit need to be clinically proven and monitored well before being used so casually for children as young as 5 to 10 years of age.

Autistic Teens form negative first impressions amongst their peers

As reported in Autism Daily Newscast on Oct 22nd, a new study conducted by Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, UK, has shown that autistic children are less approachable and deemed to be less trustworthy than their peers of a similar age group. The study, published in the Journal of Autism and developmental disorders suggests that typical children are also less friendly towards children with autism. Children formed negative associations with autistic children within 30 seconds of knowing them.

SENSE theater to help make autism youth make a sensible career

As reported in Autism Daily Newscast on Oct 24th a study conducted by Blythe Corbett of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center tried to see the effect of theater on youth with autism over a two week period. The results were extremely positive and found much improvement in the social, cognitive, social perceptive and living skills of the participants at the end of the theater camp. Even the cortisol levels of the participants were found to be much lesser at the end of the camp. The Social Emotional Neuroscience and Endocrinology (SENSE) theater camp used role-play to improvise on how children dealt with issues at a personal and social level. This shows that unconventional methods can be used to teach children to survive in the world with good results.

Probable autism genes identified

Researchers Cormand, Claudio et al from the Institute of Biomedicine from the University of Barcelona have identified that since monozygotic twins are twice as likely to develop autism if one of the two has it, genetics must play a key role in autism etiology. The potential of developing autism reduces to as low as 20% in case of dizygotic twins throwing more weight to the theory of genetics. The study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry analyzed ten families in total. The team used a novel technique which is thought to be really efficacious in identifying hereditary diseases. The method identified YWHAZ and DRP2 genes as new candidate genes for autism transmission amongst many others previously identified. Some genes identified in the work are also mutated in patients with other neuropsychiatric disorders like ADHD, epilepsy, etc.

The paper shows that autism is a cumulative effect of numerous mutated inherited genes which can be targeted for treatment. A genetic profile of autism will have to be created and identified in children having autism. Also, identical profiles might not be seen in patients, but some basic similarities should be visible hopefully after more research.

Autism leveling off in United Kingdom

A study published on October 9 (reported here on Autism Daily Newscast on Oct 19th) claims that the number of children diagnosed with Autism and ASD is not rising in Britain. The study published in the British Medical Journal and claims that although there was a surge in diagnosis throughout the 90s this has now plateaued at the beginning of the century.