Rare vs. common genetic variation in autism? They are both right.

This week’s podcast summarizes a new study which finds that in some people with autism, it takes just a few small mutations in a few key autism genes to lead to a diagnosis.  This is called the ‘rare variation theory’, but while it has been pretty well established, researchers still don’t know where these gene mutations come from.  A new joint ASF/AS/Escher Fund online symposium on October 1st from 1-3PM EST explores this issue.  Register here:


Also, detecting early signs and symptoms is the key to intervening at a key critical time in brain development.  These early signs include stereotypy and sensory symptoms and patterns of these behaviors are different in people with autism.  How?  Listen to the ASF podcast to hear more.

The sad realities behind educational services and ASD

Whoops, Donald Trump did it again.  During the Republican debates, comments around vaccines and autism were made that could cause more confusion.  This at a time when the matter should be settled in the minds of the public.  ASF president Alison Singer comments on what people should know.  Also, a new analysis examines the types of services people with developmental delay and ASD receive in the educational system.  Here’s a not-surprising sneak peak:  they are getting less than they deserve and have to go elsewhere despite laws stating otherwise.  Finally, an older drug for depression, called Effexor, may both relieve behavioral problems associated with ASD and lower the doses of anti anxiety drugs and antipsychotic drugs needed to calm irritability and aggression.

Sex differences in autism symptoms, and anxiety and depression too

Dr. Katherine Gotham from Vanderbilt University graciously joins us to talk about changes in anxiety and depression in females and males with autism across time and why these findings have consequences for diagnosis and treatment of not just autism but co-occuring conditions.  Also, males and females with autism have differences in brain structure that may explain some symptoms of autism.  You may have read the story in the media but hear the breakdown on this week’s podcast.

Females with autism and the idea of an ‘extreme male’ brain

New studies were published this week highlighting differences, or lack of differences, in males and females with autism.  This podcast explores one of these theories called the ‘Extreme Male Brain’ theory which is actively studied by Simon Baron-Cohen’s lab in the United Kingdom.  While this theory suggests that males and females with autism are more alike than different, another study focused on those individuals with autism who were not diagnosed until later in life.  Were they able to mask their symptoms for autism and slide under the radar and how?  In this group, males and females are more different than alike, which reinforces the ideas that you can’t study people with autism without studying people without autism, and that the differences between males and females may be subtle, based on context, and time of life.