Teens with Autism Choose Television,Video Games over Social Media

Teens with Autism Choose TV over Social Media

A recent study has shown that teens with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are far more likely to spend their screen time in a non-interactive way. Socially interactive media, such as email and chat clients will often be overlooked by teens with ASDs in favor of one-directional mediums like television and video games.

The researchers warned that preoccupation with video games could interfere with the children’s socialization and learning.

The study which appears online in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders used data compiled for a group of over 1,000 teens enrolled in special education.

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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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Causes of Autism: Environmental Versus Genetic Factors

A recent study shows the causes of autism to be more environmentally influenced than previously thought.

“This is a very significant study because it confirms that genetic factors are involved in the cause of the disorder,” said Dr. Peter Szatmari, a leading autism researcher who is the head of child psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at McMaster University in Ontario. “But it shifts the focus to the possibility that environmental factors could also be really important.”

Little is known about the causes of autism and as recently as a few decades ago, psychiatrists thought autism was caused by a lack of maternal warmth. While it is currently thought that there are genetic explanations, there has been growing acceptance that genes do not paint the whole picture, partially because incidences of autism appear to be increasing faster than our genes can evolve.

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Autism Epidemic: Fact or Fiction?

There are questions over a possible autism epidemic given that the number of children diagnosed in the United States is twenty times higher than it was a generation ago. About one percent of all children are affected, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Scientists are striving to determine an explanation for the spike in diagnoses. While there have been several red herrings, the search for an environmental explanation has so far been fruitless.

Roy Richard Grinker, an anthropologist at George Washington University who has studied autism across the world, believes that what some are calling an epidemic is really an “epidemic of discovery.”  Grinker suggests that the percentage of people with autism has always been the same, but previously went undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

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