autism


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SATURDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) — Children with autism are five times more likely than other kids to have feeding issues, such as being especially picky eaters or having ritualistic behaviors or extreme tantrums during meals, new research finds.

via Don’t Overlook Eating Issues Tied to Autism, Study Warns – US News and World Report.

This was very true of Rob. He had sensory issues with eating, mostly due to texture and smell, and tended to tantrum at the table and refuse to eat. My husband got so frustrated that at times he was tempted to try to force Rob to eat, which of course never went well. We ended up seeing a feeding specialist who gave us the following suggestions.

Outside of mealtimes:

  1. become aware of what kinds of tastes/smells/textures your child prefers or can tolerate, and any that he really can’t stand.
  2. Work on his tolerating stimulation in the mouth: give him drinks with a straw to work the sucking/swallowing muscles. Chewing gum helps too (avoid strong flavors at first).
  3. If toothbrushing is a problem, try rubbing his gums instead (or having him rub them) with a cloth. Sometimes the interest in an electric toothbrush or waterpic will outweigh the annoyance of the sensations. Some kids can’t tolerate the strong peppermint taste of toothpaste; try other flavors.
  4. Get him to try a tongue scraper (let him use it himself) so he can try to learn to tolerate stimulation without inducing the gag reflex.
  5. Try new taste challenges away from the dinner table, so the social pressure to behave well is removed. Remember it takes NT kids several times to acquire a taste for a food; it may take even longer for our kids.

 

Science Daily: Link discovered between touch of individuals with autism, their social difficulties

I attribute much of Rob’s improvement to the sensory integration therapy we did with him. He was highly tactilely defensive and did not seem to have a good sense of where his body ended. I am frustrated that sensory integration therapy was for many years dismissed by some in the autism community as another quack therapy, because they didn’t understand why it worked. Now they are documenting the neural processes that connect touch, social difficulty, and autism.

This would seem to be an important insight, since anti-depressant drugs act on different pathways…..

https://www.kcl.ac.uk/ioppn/news/records/2015/February/Genetic-influences-on-autism-estimated-at-between-74-98.aspx

Genetic influences on autism estimated at between 74-98 per cent

Posted on 04/03/2015
twins-blue-puff

Researchers have found that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is more heritable than recent studies have suggested with genetic influences on the disorder estimated to fall between 74-98 per cent.

Genetic risk factors for ASD were also found to overlap with the genes that influence less extreme autistic skills and behaviours seen in the general population.

The study was carried out by researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London and published today in JAMA Psychiatry.

‘Our main finding was that the heritability of ASD was high. These results further demonstrate the importance of genetic effects on ASD, despite the dramatic increase in prevalence of the disorder over the last 20 years,’ said lead author Beata Tick from the IoPPN, King’s College London.

‘They also confirm that genetic factors lead to a variety of autistic skills and behaviours across the general population.’

Data came from the population-based Twins Early Development Study (TEDS), funded by the UK Medical Research Council (MRC), and included all twins from the TEDS born in England and Wales between 1994 and 1996. In depth, home-based evaluations were carried out on 258 twins selected from the initial group of over 6,000 twin pairs, using state-of-the-art diagnostic interviews and play-based assessments, and 181 twins from the subgroup were diagnosed with ASD.

Results were consistent across several diagnostic tools and the robust findings could be used as a benchmark for future work in the field.

Professor Patrick Bolton, a senior author also from the IoPPN at King’s, said: ‘The comparison of identical and non-identical twins is a well-established way of clarifying the extent of genetic and environmental influences in autism.

‘The novel aspect of this study was the inclusion of twins regardless of whether they had a clinical diagnosis. This enabled us to get a more accurate picture of how influential a child’s environmental experiences and their genetic makeup is on ASD, as well as on subtler expressions of autistic skills and behaviours.

‘Our findings add weight to the view that ASD represents the extreme manifestation of autistic skills and behaviours seen in the general population.’

Funding for the Twins Early Development Study was by the UK MRC, and the Social Relationship Study was also funded by the MRC. Further support for the study was from the National Institute for Health Research Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre at King’s and the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, and an Autism Speaks grant.

Notes to editors

For further media information please contact Jack Stonebridge, Press Officer, Institute of  Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London on jack.stonebridge@kcl.ac.uk or 020 7848 5377. 

Paper reference: ‘Heritability of Autism Spectrum Disorder in a UK Population-Based Twin Sample’ Emma Colvert, Beata Tick et al. JAMA Psychiatry; Published Online: March 4, 2015 DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.3028.

http://rt.com/news/238817-autism-twins-uk-study/

Scientists at King’s College London have collected evidence from a population-based sample revealing that genetic factors outweigh more moderate environmental influences regards risk of autism and related traits in personality. They published their results online this week in JAMA Psychiatry.

Over 6,000 twins, born in England and Wales between 1994 and 1996, with a variety of autism-related traits – high and low subclinical levels, as well as ASD, – participated in several evaluations: the Childhood Autism Spectrum Test (6,423 twins), the Development and Well-being Assessment (359), the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (203), the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (205), and a best-estimate diagnosis (207) – and all of them showed consistency in their results. […]

“Our main finding was that the heritability of ASD was high. These results further demonstrate the importance of genetic effects on ASD, despite the dramatic increase in prevalence of the disorder over the last 20 years,” said lead author Beata Tick in a statement.

“They also confirm that genetic factors lead to a variety of autistic skills and behaviors across the general population,” Tick added. […]

Our findings add weight to the view that ASD represents the extreme manifestation of autistic skills and behaviors seen in the general population,” Bolton added.

Via medicalnewstoday.com:

Brains of autistic individuals show “inflammation response genes” are turned on…

After analyzing the brains, the researchers discovered that in the brains of individuals with autism, the microglia were constantly activated and their inflammation response genes were turned on.

Though this type of inflammation is not yet well understood, the researchers say it shines a light on the current lack of understanding regarding how immunity affects neural circuits.

“What we don’t know is whether this immune response is making things better in the short term and worse in the long term,” says Prof. Arking, who adds that this is “a downstream consequence of upstream gene mutation.”

By that, he means that given what they already know about genetic contributions to autism, inflammation is unlikely to be the root cause of the condition.

For further research, the team now wants to determine whether treating the inflammation could mitigate autism symptoms.

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