New science for those with little or no language

Even though more than 20% of people with autism have little or no language, research into ways to help this group have really been lacking.  Several efforts to not just understand the abilities and disabilities of this group started a few years ago and we are just starting to hear about what works and what doesn’t work to improve communication in those with little or no language.  This podcast summarizes the evidence, which points to combinations of things, rather than things in isolation, and peeks in on ways in which interventions can be better directed and made more effective.

Brain signals improve the efficacy of behavioral interventions

Biomarkers can help distinguish different types of features but this week they were used to predict who would respond to Pivotal Response Training, or PRT.  Researchers, led by Pam Ventral at Yale looked at how the brain responded to a social or non social situation as well as baseline features on standardized measures.  Remarkably, these brain signatures were better at standard behavioral assessments at determining who would respond most positively to PRT.  This study has enormous implications for personalized medicine approach and demonstrates how early studies in biomarkers many years ago have paid off for those with autism.

Where are all the girls with autism? Live from the Seaver Center Conference

Hear what you missed if you were unable to attend the Seaver Autism Conference on September 25th!  Dr. David Skuse discusses “where are all the girls with autism”, summarizing evidence that some girls with high verbal IQ and autism might be missed, suggesting genes associated with high IQ may be protective against a diagnosis until adolescence.  Also, ASF grantee Dr. Jennifer Foss-Feig describes how biomarkers can be used to improve personalized medicine.  Finally, a summary and review of the new air pollution systematic review and meta analysis.  Limited evidence does not equal none, and air pollution is a real problem.  Here is a link to the paper:  http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0161851.  All in 12 minutes.

Intervention studies are about to get better

Studies looking at interventions in autism have been plagued with issues of what treatments will work best in what people, and use of instruments to detect change that were never designed for use in people with autism. Recently, a new instrument was developed to look at improvements in social – communication in autism. This the first of it’s kind and will lead to better interventions to help people with ASD. Also, new research is using biological markers of autism to look at the effectiveness of interventions. The findings are still early, but promising and will help find out what types of treatment are best in which people.