The good, the bad and the ugly about medication use in ASD

This week’s podcast summarizes recent evidence on why there is good and bad in treating autism with medication, but there is also lots of ugly.  While new medications are being developed and researchers are looking into new ways of measuring change across time time, medications are not effective in treating the core symptoms of autism and they have pretty harsh side effects which, you guessed it, are dealt with by prescribing more medications.  There are a lot of reasons to be hopeful about the future of medication use in autism, but lots of reasons to feel frustrated too.

 

Here are some of the articles that were cited:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23101743

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25885012

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5520775/

 

Oxytocin: hitting a small nail with a giant sledgehammer?

This week’s podcast is inspired by a new study in PNAS thatlooked at the role of methylation of the oxytocin receptor in social behavior in people without autism.  Together with studies of the brains of people with autism, it suggests that filling the brains with oxytocin may not be the best approach for treating social impairments.  Instead, compounds that turn on or turn off the genes that control oxytocin may be more appropriate, and it also may help explain variability in why some people respond to oxytocin treatment, and why others do not.   Also, scientific technology has a new way of studying the influence of the environment on brain development.

Treatments for social reward in autism: inject it, snort it, or possibly smoke it.

This week saw two new studies on the “love hormone” called oxytocin.  In the first, the IV drip for oxytocin is replaced by a nasal spray.  The results are mild and focused on one type of symptom, but exciting and promising nonetheless.  The second study investigated how oxytocin works in the brain and shows how it interacts with a chemical called anandamide in a region activated by sex, drugs and food.  This may explain why people find social reward pleasurable.  It lays the groundwork for other compounds which may enhance social reward, but more studies are needed.   Finally, a short recap last week’s podcast where High Risk Baby Siblings researchers are finding that the range of possible issues that kids at risk have isn’t focused just on autism symptoms.

The sad realities behind educational services and ASD

Whoops, Donald Trump did it again.  During the Republican debates, comments around vaccines and autism were made that could cause more confusion.  This at a time when the matter should be settled in the minds of the public.  ASF president Alison Singer comments on what people should know.  Also, a new analysis examines the types of services people with developmental delay and ASD receive in the educational system.  Here’s a not-surprising sneak peak:  they are getting less than they deserve and have to go elsewhere despite laws stating otherwise.  Finally, an older drug for depression, called Effexor, may both relieve behavioral problems associated with ASD and lower the doses of anti anxiety drugs and antipsychotic drugs needed to calm irritability and aggression.