It’s not about THC, it’s about CBD (cannabinoids)

Parents of children with seizures are desperate to find something that will at the very least reduce the frequency of seizures in their kids.  Answers came in an unlikely place two months ago with the publication of a randomized clinical trial showing that seizures could be reduced with use of cannabinoids in kids with a condition called Dravet’s Syndrome.  Cannabinoids are one of the chemicals found in marijuana, and there are anecdotal reports on the use of marijuana or cannabinoids to treat autism.  Unlike THC, CBD (cannabinoids) do not cause euphoria or any psychoactive effects and are used exclusively for medicinal reasons.  This podcast summarizes current literature and also explains why it is so hard to study cannabinoids, including federal and state regulations and what needs to happen to open up this field of science

Sisters, sisters, there never were such devoted sisters

A special podcast this week on the Autism Sisters Project, in partnership with Icahn School of Medicine.  I talk about how the idea came about, what ASF is doing to help find out what sisters can contribute to the science of autism, and why sisters are in a unique position to do so.  Please read Lauren Singer’s special letter to the editor to Molecular Autism about being an undiagnosed sister here: http://www.molecularautism.com/content/pdf/s13229-015-0046-8.pdf

Sex differences in autism symptoms, and anxiety and depression too

Dr. Katherine Gotham from Vanderbilt University graciously joins us to talk about changes in anxiety and depression in females and males with autism across time and why these findings have consequences for diagnosis and treatment of not just autism but co-occuring conditions.  Also, males and females with autism have differences in brain structure that may explain some symptoms of autism.  You may have read the story in the media but hear the breakdown on this week’s podcast.

Can people with autism lose their diagnosis?

Researchers have been studying a small group of individuals who were diagnosed with autism, then later no longer met criteria for diagnosis.  Most of these people received early intense behavioral intervention before the age of 3, and what is called “optimal outcome” by researchers is the exception, not the rule.  However, a new study explores where they are no longer showing symptoms, and where they still are.  Also, ASF postdoctoral fellow Aarthi Padmanabhan explains her data on the brain structure of girls and boys with autism.  A sneak peak:  girls are different than boys.