The ASF Day of Learning Recap

On Thursday, March 30th the Autism Science Foundation held their 4th Annual Day of Learning in NYC.  If you were not able to attend and can’t wait for the videos of the talks, this week’s podcast attempts to summarize what was presented.

A list of the talks are:

  • Autism Research: Where Are We Now? – Dr. Wendy Chung (Simons Foundation)
  • Housing Options for Adults with Autism – Amy Lutz (EASI Foundation)
  • Improving Communication Between Parents of Children with Autism and Teachers – Dr. David Mandell (University of Pennsylvania)
  • Developing Clinical Biomarkers – Dr. James McPartland – (Yale University)
  • Understanding Modifiable Autism Risk Factors – Dr. Craig Newschaffer (Drexel University)
  • Helping People with Autism Develop Practical Skills – Dr. Celine Saulnier (Emory University)
  • New Technologies to Improve Autism Diagnosis – Dr. Robert Schultz (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia)
  • Understanding the Female Protective Effect – Dr. Donna Werling (University of California, San Francisco)

David Mandell’s presentation on parent/teacher communication was based, in part, on this publication:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4676744/

A new clue to autism found in fluid in the brain

Last week, another Baby Siblings Research Consortium Project (BSRC) published an intriguing finding which also has the bonus of being a replication.  Mark Shen, PhD, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found higher levels of extra axial fluid in the brains of infants who went on to later be diagnosed with autism, and even higher levels in those with severe autism symptoms.  Extra-axial fluid is also called cerebrospinal fluid, the fluid that holds the brain steady in your head.  Other functions of extra-axial fluid and what this means on how it may contribute to autism risk are described in the podcast.  He not only explains the findings, but conveys what families should know about them and how they can help with early identification of ASD.

A message for MLK’s birthday and a better way diagnose anxiety

Happy MLK day – a day when we recognize a man for his contribution in justice, tolerance, equality and service, I highlight a supreme court case which affects how those with special needs are fighting for justice and equality.   Also, over the holidays, Dr. Connor Kerns from Drexel University published how a new tool to diagnose anxiety in those with autism was validated, setting the stage for its use by physicians and clinicians who don’t have a lot of experience with autism to help better understand the symptoms of their patients.