The recent prevalence numbers for autism were stable from 2014 at 1 in 68. However, a disparity in prevalence still exists for those of hispanic or african-american backgrounds. While these groups are under diagnosed, little research has focused on what it is like to have autism and also be from one of these races today. Gazi Azad and colleagues studied friendships during adolescence in people with autism across different racial backgrounds and what they found will sadden you. Also, what goes into that 1 in 68 number? As it turns out premature births accounts for a significant portion. And if you didn’t have a premature birth and still had a child with autism? Remember it accounts for a chunk, not the whole thing.
If you couldn’t make it to the ASF Day of Learning last week, this week’s podcast provides a 10 minute summary. Not the same as being there, but it will do. We will have videos of each presentation up soon, but this provides a quick recap. Researchers from basic science, translational research and those with a clinical perspective provided 12 minute summaries of different research areas. This included studying autism behaviors in mice, the role of single gene disorders to autism where there are hundreds of genes involved, understanding anxiety and technologies in the classroom to mitigate stress reactions, understanding recurrence of autism in the children of siblings with ASD, and resilience in females. The podcast also includes pictures from the event.
Instead of looking at genes associated with the big “autism”, researchers at the University of Miami are considering how genes influence specific autism features present very early on in life. In this week’s podcast, two investigators, Devon Gangi and Nicole McDonald, explore how genetic variants influence behaviors that are not autism, but predictive of autism. Even more intriguing is how these genes regulate the effects of environmental variables on later behavior. While it isn’t autism specifically, this approach may provide a better perspective on all those hundreds of genes associated with an autism diagnosis. Hopefully this will lead to add on therapies to speed up the progress of behavioral interventions.
In honor of world autism awareness day, this podcast is dedicated to the new prevalence numbers of 8 year old children with autism. Is this a trend that it is no longer on the rise? Given that people with autism need awareness, support, understanding, help and boatloads of help getting them, this is a good time to know where those numbers came from. There is more that needs to be done, especially for those that are not caucasian and need better access to services.