Autism diagnosis in adulthood

While still rare, there are cases where an autism diagnosis is not made until adulthood.  Why have these people been missed and what do they need?  How did they go for so long without anyone recognizing that they needed help?  A new study from the lab of Dr. Francesca Happe in the UK investigates the characteristics and features of people who were referred for a diagnosis after 18 years of age.  Hear more about how they managed in this week’s podcast.

Unfortunate new risk discovered for people with autism and their siblings

In addition to risks of anxiety, ADHD, mood disorders and other psychiatric issues, people with autism (and their siblings) show increased risk of substance abuse issues.  This information comes from a large scandanavian registry study that included over 26,000 individuals with ASD.  On this week’s podcast I discuss what this means for people with autism and their family members.

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:  All in 12 minutes.

Managing real life autism situations.

Compared to researchers, community clinicians don’t have time for the same rigorous training on the standard autism diagnostic instrument called the ADOS, so can they still do it as well?  Or does this group not have the resources they need to use it properly?  Also, because psychiatric hospitals don’t see as many people with autism as they used to, a group of child psychiatrists got together and wrote guidelines for what to do if a child with autism showed up at the general inpatient ward.  These are things that face families in the real word, and we thought you should hear about new science around them.

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.

What if it isn’t autism?

Many times signs and symptoms of autism may be seen prior to 3 years of age, but a diagnosis is not made.  It may not be autism, but what is it?  Studying children at risk for developing ASD but then don’t go on to receive a diagnosis gives researchers a clue.  Dr. Meghan Miller from the University of California at Davis discusses a study that follows up these kids to 9 years of age and finds out what is going on with them.  Do they have autism after all?  Or do they have absolutely no symptoms at all?  Or is there something in between?

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.