Francesca Happé and ‘Autism is Growing Up’

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Francesca Happé is president of the International Society for Autism Research, a professor of cognitive neuroscience, and director of the MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London.

At the International Meeting for Autism Research last weekend the latest discoveries about autism spectrum disorder were shared.

Francesca Happé, writing on the CNN website says:

“When you think of autism, you probably think of young children. But children with autism grow up to be adults with autism, and eventually (God willing) elderly people with autism.”

Marsha Mailick, director of the Waisman Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison shared in her conference keynote address that adults are vastly underrepresented in autism research. She had followed the lives of more than 400 people with autism for over 10 years for the study.

Mailick’s study found that Autistic symptoms, such as impaired verbal and nonverbal communication decreased over time among one-third to half of the study participants.

Leaving high school was noted as a time of vulnerability for participants especially in low-income families.

The impact of autism on physical health was highlighted at the conference by new data from Dr. Lisa Croen of Kaiser Permanente. Data found that more than 2,000 adults with autism had highly elevated rates of hypertension, diabetes and obesity.

Francesca Happé writes:

“The children first described as “autistic” by Leo Kanner in 1943 are now in their seventies, yet there are no more than a handful of research papers on the elderly with ASD.”

Francesca Happé also told that much exciting research emerged from the conference,but said that as research is expanded adult autism services need to be improved.

“It’s not just about the kids anymore”

The original article by Francesca Happé can be found on the CNN website here