A year of autism research in under 30 minutes

What was impactful this year in autism research? This last podcast of 2015 explores the year of the female, highlighting the relatively new exploration into what makes females with ASD different and what they can tell us about everybody with autism and their families.  Some of what is discussed was highlighted in other podcasts, but not all of it.   The summary is organized so that what may initially be interpreted as small, nonsignificant discoveries, are viewed as progress.  Everything from genetics to getting laws passed is included.

Moving the needle towards earlier diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders

This week, the CDC published data that showed that the average age of first developmental evaluation for concerns was lowered by 5 months.  Five months is a lot to a family whose child is suffering and in need of help.  Separately, research out of Houston shows that many families are able to skip the formal evaluation and receive intervention prior to an established diagnosis based on demonstrated need that the child needs services.  This was the good news in autism, and while there is still a lot to be done especially with regards to racial and ethnic differences, public health is moving in the right direction on this issue.  But not all people with autism view their differences as symptoms or a disability.  What can we learn from people who use sign language to communicate to inform us about the way some people with autism communicate?  A special meeting called Conversations in Autism and Sign Language (CASL) brought experts and individuals on the spectrum to discuss.

Autism Insurance Mandates: Necessary But Not Sufficient For Services

Autism insurance mandates are wonderful.  They require insurance companies to pay for screening, diagnosis and treatment and services for people with autism.  But just because insurance will pay for it does not mean that it’s out there.  The idea of “build it and they will come” for insurance mandates is on it’s way, but not quite there.  Dr. David Mandell from University of Pennsylvania explains why in a new study.  Also, single genes that are associated with autism are a great start to look for causes and subtypes of people with autism, but they aren’t the final word to resolve the heterogeneity of ASD.  If you didn’t read the new story about new findings in brains of people with autism, read more on the ASF website.