Home videos could be powerful tool for diagnosing autism, researcher says

Short home videos, such as those posted on YouTube, may become a powerful tool for diagnosing autism, according to a study whose senior author is a scientist at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

No biochemical or physical tests for autism have been established, so the developmental disorder is diagnosed by observing a child for such telltale signs as repetitive behaviors, poor language skills and lack of eye contact. On average, children with autism are diagnosed at age 4, though their parents often suspect for years before diagnosis that something is wrong. Delayed diagnosis is a missed opportunity; prior research has shown that behavioral autism treatments work best when started early, at age 2 or 3.

Yet with only brief training, research assistants were able to accurately score autistic-type behaviors in home videos of children in natural settings, the study found. “Our new paper supports the hypothesis that we can detect autism quickly in very short home videos with high accuracy,” said Dennis Wall, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics in systems medicine and the senior author of the paper, published April 16 in PLOS ONE. Vincent Fusaro, PhD, a research associate at Harvard, is the lead author. The finding has the potential to improve the speed and availability of autism diagnosis.

SSRI use during pregnancy associated with autism and developmental delays in boys

Highest association found during first trimester exposure for autism and third trimester exposure for developmental delays

In a study of nearly 1,000 mother-child pairs, researchers from the Bloomberg School of Public health found that prenatal exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a frequently prescribed treatment for depression, anxiety and other disorders, was associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and developmental delays (DD) in boys. The study, published in the online edition of Pediatrics, analyzed data from large samples of ASD and DD cases, and population-based controls, where a uniform protocol was implemented to confirm ASD and DD diagnoses by trained clinicians using validated standardized instruments.

Atypical brain connectivity associated with autism spectrum disorder

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in adolescents appears to be associated with atypical connectivity in the brain involving the systems that help people infer what others are thinking and understand the meaning of others’ actions and emotions.

The ability to navigate and thrive in complex social systems is commonly impaired in ASD, a neurodevelopmental disorder affecting as many as 1 in 88 children.

New method of screening children for autism spectrum disorders works at 9 months old

Two biomarkers could help predict autism spectrum disorders and other developmental delays

Researchers, including a team from Children’s National Health System, have identified head circumference and head tilting reflex as two reliable biomarkers in the identification of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in children that are between 9 and 12 months of age.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ASD is identifiable as early as two years old, although most children are not identified until after the age of four. While a number of studies have reported that parents of children with ASD notice developmental problems in children before their first birthday, there has yet to be a screening tool to identify those children.

Read more: http://www.conductdisorders.com/community/threads/new-method-of-screening-children-for-autism-spectrum-disorders-works-at-9-months-old.57765/#ixzz2yycV971w

Dog ownership benefits families of children with autism

Parents should consider the sensitivities of their children with autism when choosing a pet

Many families face the decision of whether to get a dog. For families of children with autism, the decision can be even more challenging. Now, a University of Missouri researcher has studied dog ownership decisions in families of children with autism and found, regardless of whether they owned dogs, the parents reported the benefits of dog ownership included companionship, stress relief and opportunities for their children to learn responsibility.

“Children with autism spectrum disorders often struggle with interacting with others, which can make it difficult for them to form friendships,” said Gretchen Carlisle, a research fellow at the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction (ReCHAI) in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine. “Children with autism may especially benefit from interacting with dogs, which can provide unconditional, nonjudgmental love and companionship to the children.”

Parental obesity and autism risk in the child

Several studies have looked at possible links between maternal obesity during pregnancy and the risk of developmental disorders in the child. However, paternal obesity could be a greater risk factor than maternal obesity.

As the first researcher to study the role of paternal obesity in autism, Dr. Pål Surén emphasises that this is still a theory and requires much more research before scientists can discuss possible causal relationships.

Getting Your Kids Off the iPad Is Worth the Fight

Getting Your Kids Off the iPad Is Worth the Fight – Yahoo

Protective Effects of Parental Monitoring of Children’s Media Use – JAMA Pediatrics

Importance: Children spend more time with electronic media than they do in any other activity, aside from sleep. Many of the negative effects that stem from media exposure may be reduced by parental monitoring of children’s media use; however, there lacks a clear understanding of the mechanisms and extent of these protective effects.

Conclusions and Relevance: Parental monitoring of media has protective effects on a wide variety of academic, social, and physical child outcomes. Pediatricians and physicians are uniquely positioned to provide scientifically based recommendations to families; encouraging parents to monitor children’s media carefully can have a wide range of health benefits for children.

Schools have limited success in reducing bullying, new analysis finds

Two UCLA professors who conducted the most thorough analysis to date of studies on school bullying have found that K-12 schools’ efforts to curtail bullying are often disappointing.

The study revealed that schools are trying many different approaches to protect students, and while the more comprehensive programs have been the most effective, they require substantial commitment and school resources to be successful.

“Band-Aid solutions, such as holding one assembly a year that discourages bullying, do not work,” said Jaana Juvonen, a UCLA professor of psychology and lead author of the review. “We are trying to figure out the right balance between comprehensive programs that are costly and require a lot of staff training versus programs that require fewer school resources.”

Strategies for teaching common core to teens with autism show promise

Scientists at UNC’s Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG) report that high school students with autism can learn under Common Core State Standards (CCSS), boosting their prospects for college and employment. Newly published recommendations from FPG’s team also provide strategies for educating adolescents with autism under a CCSS curriculum.

“The number of students with autism who enter high school settings continues to grow,” said Veronica P. Fleury, lead author and postdoctoral research associate with FPG’s Center on Secondary Education for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. “Many educators may find that they’re not prepared to adapt their instruction to meet both state standards and the diverse needs of these students.”

Low doses of antianxiety drugs rebalance the autistic brain

New research in mice suggests that autism is characterized by reduced activity of inhibitory neurons and increased activity of excitatory neurons in the brain, but balance can be restored with low doses of a well-known class of drugs currently used in much higher doses to treat anxiety and epileptic seizures. The findings, which are reported in the March 19th issue of the Cell Press journal Neuron, point to a new therapeutic approach to managing autism.

“These are very exciting results because they suggest that existing drugs—called benzodiazepines—might be useful in treatment of the core deficits in autism,” says senior author Dr. William Catterall of the University of Washington, in Seattle.