Researchers to focus on adults with autism study

San Diego — Researchers from the San Diego State University (SDSU) will be conducting a study intended to observe and follow adults with autism aged 45 to 65 years old.

SDSU Neuroscientist Ruth Carper and SDSU Psychology Professor Ralph-Axel Müller decided to fill in the seemingly increasing lack of study on adults dealing with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which seems to be happening despite the fact that numerous studies have been and are still being conducted on autism— likely mainly due to the fact that most scientists are bent on finding a way to cure or at least subdue it in the earliest possible time, which is usually shortly after symptoms begin to manifest during the patients’ childhood.

With the help of a $3.5 million grant coming from the National Institutes of Health, the researchers hope to observe closely how behaviors and brain functions in individuals with autism change as they grow older.

The study will be picking up from a research Carper did a few years back, wherein the cognitive abilities of adults with varying levels of autism were examined closely.

In that study, Carper observed that behavioral problems in adults with autism have the possibility of worsening as they grow older. According to Carper:

“Preliminary findings suggested that some problem behaviors may become more difficult in these individuals as they get older, but it’s still too soon to know what happens with cognition and memory.”

The study will involve 70 individuals with and without autism aged 45 to 65 years old, some of them also participants in Carper’s previous study. Carper told:

“Participants will take a series of detailed neuropsychological tests to quantify their cognitive abilities such as language, problem solving and memory.”

Apart from the neuropsychological tests, participants in the study will also undergo a brain scan at a UC San Diego facility, which they are required to repeat after two years.

“Comparing subjects should provide statistical power to allow us to detect differences between groups and to examine differences between our youngest and oldest participants.”

The researchers hope that their study will pave way for scientists to come up with more ways to help adults with ASD.

Source: Emely Navarro: The Daily Aztec: SDSU tracks adults with autism