The causes of social communication deficits in ASD

This week, former ASF fellow Katherine Stavropoulos from UC Riverside and Leslie Carver published data investigating what is the core cause of social communication deficits in autism.  Do people with autism show deficits in this area because they have a lack of motivation for social cues, or are social interactions just too overwhelming on their senses?  It turns out, both are true and this has direct implications for intervention methods.  Also, parents and siblings of people with autism show subtle symptoms of ASD without having a diagnosis.  This is called the broader autism phenotype, and a study by the Study to Explore Early Development led by Dr. Eric Rubenstein, demonstrated that parents of children with a particular group of symptoms are more likely to show this phenotype than other groupings.  You can read the full studies here:

 

https://molecularautism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13229-018-0189-5

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29376397

 

Is the broader autism phenotype really so bad?

In this week’s podcast we explore autism and autism-esque symptoms in family members, particularly siblings.  Siblings can show mild features, called the broader autism phenotype, all the way to an increased risk of mental illness including emotional and behavioral problems, ADHD and tic disorder.  This week we revisit the study of a large number of siblings in Finland and a new project looking at milder impairments in a smaller number of siblings with an older brother or sister with autism.  Also – as a special treat, highlights from the DUP15 meeting in Maryland this past week.

Is ADHD part of the spectrum diagnosis of ASD?

A recent study examining some people who lost an autism diagnosis (and were possibly reclassified) reinvigorates the idea that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may be on the autism spectrum.  It shouldn’t be part of a valid ASD diagnosis, but there may be some symptoms of ASD that overlap with ADHD.  Also, a new editorial emphasizes that while new discoveries are important and exciting, what happens to make them useful for people outside a research study takes a lot of work, time and money.