Parents are people too

Sometimes parents get a bad rap for not having autism themselves, or not being in touch with the challenges of autistic adults.  This week’s ASF Podcast highlights two new studies on the role parents play in science, research and understanding racial disparities.  A group in the United Kingdom released the results of a survey across Europe which examined parent perceptions on early autism research (think infants and toddlers) and how researchers could better help families at this stage.  Another study from researchers in Georgia and Connecticut revealed how important parents (and clinicians) can be in reducing the disparity in diagnosis between black and white children in the US.  Finally, a call to unite over a common challenge: employment.  If you have not done so already, please make your voice heard as a parent, autistic adult, employer or service provider on a survey gauging the needs of the entire autism community around employment.  http://www.lernerlab.com/employmentsurvey.html 

 

Here are the references used in this podcast:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4230972/ 

https://www.autismspeaks.org/sites/default/files/docs/as_science_planning_survey_final_pdf_0.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29126359

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29100475

 

The IACC has some ideas on how to spend money for research, and here they are

This week the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee or IACC, finalized next year’s strategic plan on autism research.  This podcast explains what the IACC does, who serves on it, and also, what ideas they have for maximizing use of the research dollar for ASD.  It’s a long document and every taxpayer in the US does contribute money towards autism research, so it’s worthwhile to hear what the US government, researchers, stakeholders, service providers and individuals with autism thinks should happen to that money.  If you want to read the whole, thing, go for it.  You can download it here.

Pregnant and concerned about autism? Folic acid can help.

This week a bunch of new studies came out that focused on changes in probability of having a child with autism after folic acid consumption during pregnancy.  Moderate consumption folic acid and slightly elevated levels of plasma folate during pregnancy has now been shown in at least half a dozen scientific studies to reduce the chance of that child to be later diagnosed with autism.  This is not a prevention effect, but a reduction in probability.   There are enough studies on this question for a Chinese group to have organized them, put their data together, reanalyze them together and conclude that this is a real thing.  If this was an effect seen after say, drinking battery acid, maybe it might require more consideration to recommend to the community.  However, taking folic acid during pregnancy is something medical doctors are recommending pregnant women do anyway.

Want to learn more?  Here are the studies:

Swedish Study:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28978695

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ppe.12414/epdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5625821/pdf/13229_2017_Article_170.pdf

Denmark Study:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28946926

 

How early do females with autism show differences?

Using high risk baby siblings research design, scientists at Yale University showed that as babies, girls with autism show an unusual pattern of social attention for their age, spending most of their time looking at faces.  This is in stark contrast to findings in boys.  Together with other data, the authors conclude that this early social behavior may mitigate, or protect against, the symptoms of ASD later on in life.

In the second half of the podcast, the new supplement to the journal Pediatrics is summarized, which includes important new guidelines and recommendations that affect people with autism.  As promised, here is the link so you can see for yourself.