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Archive for the ‘Autism Science Foundation’ Category

Beth A. Malow, MD, MS

Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics, Burry Chair in Cognitive Childhood Development, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

            Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Human Development, Nashville TN

Sleep is an essential component of a healthy life, like food and oxygen.  When we don’t sleep well, we feel irritable and have difficulty concentrating. With this in mind, imagine how a child on the autism spectrum feels and behaves without sleep (and how their sleep-deprived caregivers feel)!

Given how common sleep problems are, and how profoundly they affect children and their families,  it is timely to consider what we already know and what the future holds in our understanding of sleep in autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

What we’ve learned so far:  Sleep problems are common in children with ASD,  have many causes, and affect child and family functioning.  

Sleep problems are common in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) — ranging from 50-80% (Couturier et al., 2005; Krakowiak et al., 2008; Souders et al., 2009; Goldman et al. 2011), with similar rates across all ages and cognitive levels.  Insomnia, defined as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, is the most common sleep problem. Causes (Reynolds and Malow, 2011) range from medical conditions (e.g., gastrointestinal disorders, seizures, sleep apnea, attention deficit disorder, anxiety) and the medications used to treat these conditions (e.g., stimulants, antidepressants) to behavioral factors unique to the child with autism (for example, sensory sensitivities, difficulty transitioning to bedtime activities). Children, regardless of language abilities, may not understand parents expectations about sleep. Parents, in turn, may be too overwhelmed by other priorities and stressors to put a sleep plan in place. Proper identification of the causes of sleep difficulties in children with ASD is critical to successful treatment.

Behavioral and pharmacological treatments that improve sleep positively affect daytime functioning in the child and family (as reviewed in Malow et al., 2012) and may minimize the need for medications that target behavioral symptoms. For example, in 80 children receiving sleep education delivered by their parents (Malow et al., 2013), improvements in anxiety, attention, repetitive behavior, pediatric quality of life, and parenting sense of competence were also observed. While improving sleep does not necessarily change the core features of ASD, addressing  sleep concerns may ameliorate co-occurring medical conditions such as epilepsy or anxiety.  A well-rested child may also be more engaged in therapies that improve social interactions, and his well-rested parents may be empowered to advocate more effectively for his needs.

What we need to learn: What therapies for sleep are effective? Can we predict which treatments will work for subgroups of children?

We still have much more to learn about which therapies are effective for sleep in children with ASD. In particular, we need to understand the impact of treating co-occurring medical and psychiatric conditions (e.g., gastrointestinal disorders, anxiety) on sleep-onset and sleep-maintenance insomnia. For example, insomnia, anxiety, and GI disturbances may coexist in the same child, but whether one causes or contributes to the other coexisting conditions is unresolved. An alternative possibility is that insomnia, anxiety, and GI disturbance share an underlying mechanism. One possible mechanism may be autonomic dysfunction (Kushki, 2013), with sympathetic hyperarousal and parasympathetic underarousal.

While behavioral treatments for sleep have shown promise in ASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders (Malow et al., 2013; Weiskop et al., 2005 and others reviewed in Vriend, 2011), determining  subgroups of children who are most responsive to these therapies are needed. For example, children with short sleep duration and frequent night wakings (in whom medical causes of sleep disturbance have been excluded), or those with limited verbal skills, may have a differing treatment response to behavioral interventions than children with sleep onset delay. This differing response may result from biological causes, or alternatively, a poorer response to the intervention. In those requiring medications, we need to determine which medicines are safe and effective for a variety of sleep problems (sleep onset delay, night wakings). Supplemental melatonin has been studied to a greater extent than any other medication for sleep in ASD, but large well-controlled studies have been limited (Rossignol, 2011). Genetic factors, including those related to melatonin synthesis, may also be important (Melke, 2008) in determining which child may respond to a specific therapy.

Another subgroup of  individuals with ASDs worthy of study are adolescents and young adults. My colleagues at Vanderbilt are studying sleep patterns this population at baseline (Dr. Suzanne Goldman, funding from Autism Speaks), and with behavioral treatment (Dr. Whitney Loring, funding from Organization for Autism Research).

The area of sleep and autism is ripe for continued research, in terms of causes, treatments, and overlap with many other areas, ranging from medical co-occurring conditions to genetic and other biological markers to treatment trials. Being vigilant (pun intended) to the role of sleep in autism research has high potential to advance our knowledge of autism subtypes as well as our toolbox for real world treatments that impact people with ASD and their families.

 

References

Couturier JL, Speechley KN, Steele M, Norman R, Stringer B, Nicolson R. (2005) Parental perception of sleep problems in children of normal intelligence with pervasive developmental disorders: prevalence, severity, and pattern. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 44: 815-822.

Goldman SE, Surdyka K, Cuevas R, Adkins K, Wang L, Malow BA. (2009) Defining the sleep phenotype in children with autism. Dev Neuropsychol. 34(5), 560-73.

Kushki A, Drumm E, Pla Mobarak MTanel NDupuis AChau T, Anagnostou E. Investigating the autonomic nervous system response to anxiety in children with autism spectrum disorders. PLoS One. 2013;8(4):e59730. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0059730. Epub 2013 Apr 5.

Krakowiak P, Goodlin-Jones B, Hertz-Picciotto I, Croen LA, Hansen RL. (2008) Sleep problems in children with autism spectrum disorders, developmental delays, and typical development: a population-based study. J Sleep Res. 17(2):197-206.

Malow BA, Byars K, Johnson K, Weiss S, Bernal P, Goldman SE, Panzer R, Coury D, Glaze DG. A practice pathway for the identification, evaluation and management of insomnia in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. Pediatrics. 2012;130 Suppl 2:S106-24.

Malow BA, Adkins KW, Reynolds A, Weiss SK, Loh A, Fawkes D, Katz T, Goldman SE, Madduri N, Hundley R, Clemons T. Parent-Based Sleep Education for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. J Autism Dev Disord. 2013 Jun 11.

Melke J, Goubran Botros H, Chaste P, Betancur C, Nygren G, Anckarsater H, Rastam M, Stahlberg O, Gillberg IC, Delorme R, Chabane N, Mouren-Simeoni MC, Fauchereau F, Durand C M, Chevalier F, Drouot X, Collet C, Launay JM, Leboyer M, Gillberg C, Bourgeron T. Abnormal melatonin synthesis in autism spectrum disorders. Mol Psychiatry 2008; 13(1):90-98

Reynolds AM, Malow BA. Sleep in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. In: Owens J, Mindell JA, Eds. Pediatric Clinics of North America 2011; 58(3):685-98.

Rossignol D, Frye R. Melatonin in autism spectrum disorders: a systemic review and meta-analysis. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology 2011; 53(9), 783-792.

Souders MC, Mason TB, Valladares O, et al. Sleep behaviors and sleep quality in children with autism spectrum disorders.  SLEEP 2009;32:1566-1578.

Vriend, J. L., Corkum, P. V., Moon, E. C., & Smith, I. M. (2011). Behavioral interventions for sleep problems in children with autism spectrum disorders: Current findings and future directions. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 36(9), 1017–1029.

Weiskop S, Richdale A, Matthews J. Behavioural treatment to reduce sleep problems in children with autism or fragile X syndrome. Dev Med Child Neurol. 2005;47(2):94-104.

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by Theresa Waldron, author of http://www.healthsnark.com

Anti-vaccine groups have been speaking out since the late 1980s against the many vaccines recommended for infants and children to prevent childhood infectious diseases. One-third of parents say they are concerned about the safety of vaccines, and one in 10 refuse or delay to vaccinate their children out of those concerns.

One of the most vocal of their worries is that vaccines are linked to autism, and that the standard 28 vaccines recommended for children from birth to age six are excessive and harmful. In fact, some anti-vaccine groups such as Generation Rescue go so far as to claim that autism is a common “side effect” of vaccines.

But in a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers looked at the medical records of 256 children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and 752 typically developing children who received standard vaccines from birth to age two. They wanted to see if the number of “antigens” present in the vaccines, which stimulate the body to produce antibodies to fight infection, had any correlation with the children’s risk of autism. Some anti-vaccine groups believe that the vaccine antigens are too strong for young children’s immune systems, thereby making them more susceptible to autism.

Do Children with ASD Receive more Antigens?

The researchers wanted to see if perhaps children with ASD were receiving more antigens than children without ASD. They evaluated the total antigen numbers in both groups of children by adding the number of different antigens in all vaccines each child received in one day, as well as all vaccines each child received up to 2 years of age. The researchers found that the total antigens from vaccines received by age two, or the maximum number received on a single day, was the same between children with and without ASD.

There is a contention by anti-vaccine groups that because children receive more vaccines than in previous years, they are being exposed to more antigens, and that this is what is causing autism rates to rise. Actually, current vaccines have more targeted antigens, so fewer of the antigens need to be used to be effective now than in previous years. The current vaccine schedule does recommend more vaccines now than in the late 1990s. But the maximum number of antigens by age two in a currently vaccinated child is 315 compared to several thousand in the late 1990s.

The idea that an infant or young child’s immune system is fragile and can’t handle antigens and other “immunologic stimuli,” is simply not true, the authors conclude. Babies are naturally exposed to many viruses and antigens in their everyday world.

“The possibility that immunological stimulation from vaccines during the first one or two years of life could be related to the development of ASD is not well-supported by what is known about the neurobiology of ASDs,” they write.

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AUTISM SCIENCE FOUNDATION and DANCE2BFIT

HOST ZUMBA MANIA on APRIL 6, 2013

Get Fit! Feel Fab! Raise Funds!

(April 1, 2013—New York, NY)  The Autism Science Foundation (ASF) and Dance2BFit will host their first annual Zumba Mania, a fun and fun-draising event for families and individuals affected by autism, on April 6, 2013 at Dance2BFit Studios in Mamaroneck.

The event will raise money to fund research to find the causes of autism and develop better treatments for children, teens and adults with autism. 1 in 88 children is currently diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, making it more common than childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined.

Zumba Mania will run from 12:30pm – 3:30pm at Dance2BFit at 656 Van Ranst Place, Mamaroneck, NY.  Dance2BFit owner/instructor Gustavo Lopez, a Mamaroneck native and MHS graduate, will lead the zumba-ing. Dancers 12 and over, of all developmental and skill levels, are welcome to participate.

“Let’s face it; it’s stressful being the parent of a child with autism and zumba is a fabulous stress reliever,” said Alison Singer, president of the Autism Science Foundation. “Gustavo is the best instructor I’ve ever met. It’s just impossible not to be happy when you’re doing zumba with Gustavo.”

“Everyone can zumba,” said Lopez, who became a certified zumba instructor in 2009 and opened Dance2BFit in 2012. “Whatever your age, fitness level, or developmental level, zumba is a great workout and has great health benefits.”

Tickets are $25 and available online at http://asfzumbamania.eventbrite.com/. All advance ticket buyers will receive a free water bottle or size large t-shirt at the door. Tickets can be purchased at the door, space permitting.

Zumba is a dance fitness program created by Colombian dancer/choreographer Albert Perez. It involves dance and aerobic elements and incorporates hip-hop, samba, salsa, mambo and other dance moves.  According to Wikipedia, approximately 14 million people take weekly Zumba classes in over 140,000 locations across more than 150 countries.

100% of the proceeds from this event will benefit the Autism Science Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity. Its mission is to support autism research by providing funding to scientists and organizations conducting autism research. ASF also provides information about autism to the general public and serves to increase awareness of autism spectrum disorders and the needs of individuals and families affected by autism. ASF was founded by Scarsdale resident Alison Singer, who currently serves as president and Chief Zumba Officer.

To learn more about the Autism Science Foundation’s programs visit www.autismsciencefoundation.org.

 

–30–

Contact Information:

Casey Gold
Program Associate
Autism Science Foundation
212 391-3913
cgold@autismsciencefoundation.org

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By Nick Lombardi, ASF intern

Nick Lombardi, recently recognized by the town of Greenburgh for his service to the autism community, has a younger brother with autism.

At five years old it was explained to me that my brother was going to be different.  I didn’t understand what different meant – to me he was just my three year old brother. I played with him and understood him perfectly even though he didn’t speak. He was my buddy.  

I remember how taking Joey anywhere became a major operation of enormous work and planning.  Once we arrived the challenge didn’t stop there, Joey took off his shoes and ran like the wind. The danger and stress of losing Joey was constant and so were the looks of disapproval, irritation, and sheer disgust.
My family was scolded – “Why can’t you control him?” often while we were ineffectively trying to peel Joey off the ground or holding on to him for dear life.  No matter how many times we tried to explain, the criticism never stopped. This hurt our family’s core and it hurt Joe too, it was right there on his face.
My frustration grew – others shouldn’t judge Joey.  I was nine years old when I realized my brother needed a voice, and I had to give it to him.

I designed a pin that would be clear and useful.  My message was simple and straightforward, “I’m not misbehaving I have autism please be understanding.”  I started with 6 pins.  Joey wore them everywhere and like magic, they worked!  People looked at Joey, saw the message and the tone changed.  HE HAD A VOICE!!  
Other families needed them.  I started selling them to pay for the cost.  I shared my pins and now they are in two languages and sold all over the world. I have trademarked it and have my own Facebook and web page ( www.autismbutton.com  and www.facebook.com/autismbutton?ref=hl) and even expanded my line with patches and tee shirts.  

I speak at many autism benefits and schools, have appeared on TV news programs and in newspapers, been listed as one of autism’s  advocates of the year with Hilary Clinton and hosted a web TV show called Siblinghood. For years I have volunteered with special needs children and been a mentor for siblings.
Joey has changed my life forever.  Joe taught me the meaning of responsibility, passion, determination, and unconditional love.  He gave me the true gift of realizing that we can’t take anything for granted.  Not even a spoken word.  I’ve also learned that I can make a difference.   

Whenever I get tired or frustrated, I think of Joey, how hard it is for him and it keeps me focused.  I’m not sure how you can thank someone for giving you all of that.  In return, I just love him and promise to always give him a voice.

I know and understand the struggles that a sibling of someone with autism goes through. The worst feeling is loneliness; the feeling that not only does no one understand you, but the feeling that there is nothing you or anyone can do to help. That, thankfully, is not at all the reality. For me, the best way to get your feelings out and find ways to deal with your problems is by going to group therapy or simply finding someone you trust to confide in and talk to about things. Parents, as much as they love us, are not the first people we run to. I felt that my parents were already overwhelmed with Joey. I couldn’t possibly put the burden of dealing with my problems on their shoulders as well. I will admit that it was a little intimidating at first.  I didn’t know what to expect. At age eight, I didn’t really talk about Joey with anyone my age who wasn’t a cousin or very close family friend. For my friends at school, autism wasn’t exactly the most frequently used word in their vocabulary.

I remember walking into my first group meeting; I was excited but scared out of my mind too. I didn’t know what the other kids would say or think about me once I told them stories about Joey and my family. However, soon enough after doing our opening introductions and starting on our first problem, I realized that this was the place for me. Everyone could relate to me and I to them. It was the first time that I truly didn’t feel isolated or judged or like I was “the kid with the weird brother.” I felt right at home with the stories of public tantrums and struggles at home. It gave me a safe place to vent and talk about the feelings that I couldn’t ever say to my parents. It was amazing; all of those feelings that I had cooped up inside of me were now in the open, in a safe place where no one thought less of me because of it.

If I have any advice for parents it is this –  make sure you attend to the needs of all of your children. Now of course I’m not a parent and I salute the efforts of parents of children with autism and other disabilities. It’s a whole level of love and commitment that can’t possibly be measured. With that being said, sometimes the needs of the “typical sibling” (a word I hate to use) can be overlooked. I’m not saying that there is a shortage of love and commitment. In fact, there is so much love that it makes it hard for some siblings to talk to their parents. We see the struggle that they go through and can’t possibly imagine putting any more pressure on them. The best thing that parents can do is ensure your son or daughter that they are free to express their feelings, even the ones that are sometimes difficult to hear. They need to feel safe and know that if they say something they won’t be judged or punished. For some siblings, however, talking to a parent directly is too hard and group therapy or even one-on-one therapy becomes the best option.

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By Kadi Luchsinger

Kadi Luchsinger, selected by Autism Science Foundation as a 2012 IMFAR Travel Grantee, is a parent an 11 year old son with Dup15q Syndrome.

I was so pleased to have the opportunity to attend the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR). I went with a mission: to meet as many people as I could and learn from them, but also to share my knowledge of Dup15q Syndrome. I’m pleased to say I accomplished my mission.

I spent a fair amount of my time at IMFAR reviewing the poster presentations. It was wonderful to see the young researchers’ excitement and to discuss their research. I wanted to know how they developed their hypothesis, how they were funded and what obstacles they encountered. It was enlightening for me to talk to those in the trenches and to gain a better understanding of the research world. As the Executive Director of Dup15q Alliance, gaining this understanding was important because our organization is moving in the direction of funding research. Speaking with some of the top experts in the field who are working on Dup15q related projects was also a priority to me.

As a science junkie, I enjoyed the keynote address by Dr. Feldman, entitled Bio-Behavioral Synchrony and the Development of Social Reciprocity. The details of her work and the videos were fascinating. She provided a great overview of the importance of relationships to children with autism, explaining it on a biochemical level. There were so many outstanding sessions, at times I felt information overload!

My favorite session was called Communicating Autism Science. The presenters focused on media training, working with the press and communicating with families. I learned about the importance of being prepared ahead of time for the press by developing three key points and practicing these points. This was a great session for me to attend as our organization is a volunteer-run parent organization and we do not have a staff to handle media relations.

In addition to research findings, I learned more about other organizations and the resources they offer in order to share resources with our members. Though I learned so much about the latest autism research, the best thing about IMFAR was meeting the leaders in the field of autism research. I made wonderful connections and learned so much from other attendees.

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by Jason Ross

Jason Ross is an Autistic adult working for the Autism Science Foundation. He has appeared on PBS’ “This Emotional Life” with Ami Klin. Jason blogs about neurodiversity, autistic rights, fiction, poetry, and artwork at www.drivemomcrazy.com.

As an adult with autism, I am encouraging Autistic people to step up and share their voices as we continue this journey to build a better community of inclusion. Part of building that community is developing and improving services for adults with autism, which is the ultimate goal of ASF and UJA’s Adult with ASD survey. Hopefully this survey will bring us closer to autism acceptance.

I decided to join this initiative and help Autism Science Foundation with this research project because many of my Autistic friends that I have spoken with either lack services or have none at all. Autistic adults need improved services to lead easier and more fulfilled lives.
We need improved services because:

  1. Services can build our strengths- we can use our strengths to build our lives!
  2. Services can help us get jobs- Autistics need jobs too. Better services will better prepare us for employment in the future!
  3. Services can help us communicate- we need improved services in order to communicate our thoughts and feelings especially since some people think we don’t have feelings or thoughts of our own!
  4. Services can help us live inclusively in society- although social skills classes are important, most classes don’t include everything we need to know.

Autistic people face many barriers in society. Please complete the survey to help lift them. You may be eligible for the survey if you are an adult with autism or a parent or caregiver of an adult with autism. If you aren’t eligible, recommend this survey to someone who can take it.  A barrier we have always faced is not being included in helping with research that affects us. The survey being administered now will help researchers understand what works best for us and what does not. Help us help researchers do the right thing. Be heard.

Please email me at jross@autismsciencefoundation.org if you have any questions.

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By Melissa Shimek
Melissa Shimek, selected by Autism Science Foundation as a 2012 IMFAR Travel Grantee, is a  self-identified individual with autism.
Since attending IMFAR, I have concentrated on some ongoing activities and have taken on some new projects. Firstly, I  continue writing in my blog (as time allows) which I began before the 2012 conference. My writing has benefited from the additional information gained at IMFAR. My viewpoint is enriched and my knowledge base is expanded. I also discovered new topics for exploration. As before the conference, I am still considering continuing my education in the field of neuropsychology at a local university.
This past summer, I had the privilege of addressing a group of college-age individuals on the autism spectrum by participating in the AIM program at Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA. During the session, I was able to elaborate on many of my own experiences with newly acquired insight. Also, using what I learned at IMFAR 2012 as a resource, I kept many in attendance engaged and inquisitive. I have since been approached to be involved with the group annually and to begin work with other currently enrolled AS students at the university.
Recently, I was contacted by a local private non-profit, KaleidAScope, to assist with high school aged support group meetings. The extent of which my services will be utilized is still becoming clear and will undergo continuous change. Eventually, it may encompass more activities with individuals of all ages affiliated with this group.
Seeing a need in my community for more available supports to women on the autism spectrum, I have begun working with another local woman towards structuring reoccurring group meetings. These meetings would be open to women teenage years through adulthood looking for disclosure and understanding not available within the general public or within mixed gender meetings. We have secured a location. We are currently looking for an agreeable time and framework. By reaching out to service providers within the community, a small population of potential participants with interest/need has been expressed.
I have communicated interest as a potential participant in ongoing autism spectrum research at the University of Pittsburgh. I have submitted the initially requested documentation. Also, my family and I have completed preliminary interviews. I am hoping I will be able to volunteer my time to this project, adding an underrepresented (adult) female component to autism research. My time at IMFAR definitely energized my perception of current research in this field.
Finally and most importantly, my acquired knowledge from attending IMFAR 2012 has given me added confidence while advocating for my daughter during the drafting and implementing of her first 504 plan. I was able to clearly express my concerns and actively aid in constructing necessary accommodations and additional instructions.
The opportunity the Autism Science Foundation provided to me with a travel grant to IMFAR 2012 has unending possibilities. It was a once in a life-time experience which I am so grateful to have witnessed.

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By Emily Willingham

Emily Willingham, selected by Autism Science Foundation as a 2012 IMFAR Travel Grantee, is a parent and writer for The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism Blog.

My overall experience at IMFAR was one of dizzying confusion. The conference is huge, with hundreds of posters to view, presentations of interest to me scheduled in conflict with one another, and many comments that left me wanting researchers to talk more to autistic people and less about them and their parents. Some presentations were quite enlightening–one regarding the CDC numbers was in particular rather alarming to me. Others felt like duds, in part because I felt that some presenters lacked empathy when talking about autistic people.

In other words, it was just like any other large scientific conference I’ve attended except that this time, it was personal, and I took some things personally. But I was there as the science editor for the Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism (TPGA), so I channeled the science part of me and left the personal part to other members of our TPGA team.
I wrote two posts, both representative of my scientific interests, about IMFAR 2012, which appeared at TPGA. The first is related to the potential role of androgens in autism and begins:
“Much of what I saw at IMFAR (self-selected, obviously) focused on assessing sex hormone differences or the presumed outcomes of such differences in autistic vs non-autistic populations. As the Father of the Extreme Male Brain Hypothesis that androgen levels relate to autism, Simon Baron-Cohen appeared as senior author on several posters in this subject area and also gave a talk on the same topic. While he is possibly best known in a negative light in autism circles for his tautological “autistic people do poorly on my empathy test ergo autistic people lack empathy” ideas, what I discuss below is not related to that, at all. It’s all about the steroid hormones during development in the womb, and I found it fascinating …”
My second post is a discussion of the relevance of mouse models of autism and the science associated with them. What I ended up writing was both a primer and a commentary. The core of it was as follows:
“But I’m feeling a little jaded about animal models in autism because of the genetics and genomics data I saw presented at the conference. With a few exceptions, nothing seems to have emerged as a clear new contender for knocking out or otherwise manipulating in mice. Some of the usual suspects, like SHANK, were there. But the genome-wide association studies, intended to examine a genome for changes associated with a disorder or other condition, are not kicking out a lot of obvious single candidates for genes associated with autism. It’s almost looking like we’d have to make about a thousand animal models of autism to tease out various associations between a gene change and a specific autism-related endpoint.”
Because autism is as much a social human construct as it is a genetic or neurobiological construct, using mouse models and mice with “autistic-like” behaviors will get us only so far. I think that the best use of these models is to target candidate genes–which is what mouse models in general are for. But when every story about a mouse model of autism gets trumpeted as the be-all and end-all of autism gene studies, autism behavioral studies or autism cure studies, I start to feel a little jaded.
IMFAR 2012 was a worthwhile conference to attend, and I thank Autism Science Foundation for providing travel funding for my attendance. I spent the entire day every day in sessions and viewed, I believe, every single poster at the conference, talking with many investigators. It was a full immersion in autism research, with views that were interesting and not so interesting. The commentary I heard tells me that we have some work to do so in terms of how some researchers, at least, view the autistic people who are the focus of their work.

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