Category Archives: Autism International

Low Birth Weight Linked to Autism Spectrum Disorders

Low birth weight affects a child’s chance of having an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to a study conducted by a Northwestern University researcher.

“Our study of discordant twins – twin pairs in which only one twin was affected by ASD – found birth weight to be a very strong predictor of autism spectrum disorder,” said Northwestern University researcher Molly Losh.

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Increasing Support for Adults with Autism

Increasing support for adults with autismThe lion’s share of services for those affected by autism is directed at early intervention and those under the age of 21. A Philadelphia College has launched an initiative to address the increasing need for services for the adult population with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).

“There is very little right now in terms of services when you reach 21”  says Paul Haughton, Ph.D., chief psychologist at CORA Services “We’re focusing on children, rightfully so, but as they move into adulthood and turn 21 it’s almost like they drop off a cliff in terms of organized systematic services for them.”

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Families Frustrated by Funding Cuts

In what is becoming an all too familiar story for families affected by autism, funding for programs for children has been slashed.

Parents of children with autism in Regina, Canada are disappointed and concerned as a number of popular summer programs have been scaled back or cut altogether.

“You fight every day for services, and the summer program is the one time a year you get intensive services for five weeks, and then you really have nothing for the rest of the year,” Rip Smith said, whose son Max enjoyed the summer program.

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Gene Mutation in Autism Causes Hypersensitivity

A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience and supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and Autism Speaks has found that the loss of a specific mutated gene in the auditory cortical neurons – the powerhouses of the sound-processing center – causes hypersensitive to sound. While the functioning PTEN gene is known for it’s anti-cancer roll in powering down cell growth, proliferation, and survival, a mutated version of PTEN has the opposite effect and has been found in autistic individuals with macroencephaly, or an increase in brain volume. Previous work with the mutated form of PTEN in mice has resulted in boosted cell size and number of neurological connections in the brain.

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Australian Autism Funding Dire

Australian families are faced with dire choices as a result of funding for autism treatment being abysmally low.

In order to access crucial treatment, parents of children with autism are having to sell their homes or leave the country.

Governmental guidelines recommend early intervention for autism with a “minimum of 20 hours a week over two or more years” which can cost up to $50,000 a year. The government’s “Helping children with autism package” of $6000 a year covers only one hour a week, advocates say.

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Researchers find Uncommon Bacteria in Digestive System of Children with Autism

Researchers at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University have found that an uncommon bacterium exists in the walls of intestines of children with autism, but not those who do not have autism.The study, led by Brent Williams, tested 23 tissue biopsy samples from children with autism and found that a large portion (12 of the 23) contained the bacteria belonging to the group Sutterella. Even so, the bacteria are generally uncommon, not being found in any of the tissue samples from  children without autism.

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Autism Causes: Another Suspect Eliminated

One of the many potential causes of autism, smoking during pregnancy, has been ruled out after a large population-based study in Sweden.“We found no evidence that maternal smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of autism spectrum disorders,” said study leader Dr. Brian Lee, an assistant professor at Drexel University and an epidemiologist at Drexel’s School of Public Health, in collaboration with researchers from Sweden’s Karolinska Institute and the University of Bristol (Bristol, UK).

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