Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Simplified Approach by Daniel Rossignol, MD, & Richard Frye, MD, PhD
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Autism Therapy: Buspar (buspirone hydrochloride)
definition of Buspar (buspirone hydrochloride): Buspar® is indicated for the management of anxiety disorders or for short-term relief of more severe symptoms of anxiety. Buspirone may be prescribed off-label for people with autism to help reduce anxiety and aggression and to help improve behaviors. Buspirone has helped improve behaviors in some people with autism. This medication is currently being tested in children and adults with autism.
Friday, December 9, 2011
OVERVIEW: Response interruption/redirection (RIR) is an evidence-based practice used to decrease interfering behaviors, predominantly those that are repetitive, stereotypical, and/or self-injurious. RIR often is implemented after a functional behavior assessment (FBA) has been conducted to identify the function of the interfering behavior. RIR is particularly useful with persistent interfering behaviors that occur in the absence of other people, in a number of different settings, and during a variety of tasks. These behaviors often are not maintained by attention or escape. Instead, they are more likely maintained by sensory reinforcement and are often resistant to intervention attempts. RIR is particularly effective with sensory-maintained behaviors because teachers/practitioners interrupt learners from engaging in interfering behaviors and redirect them to more appropriate, alternative behaviors.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
One in every 110 kids in the United States have autism, but the Lakeside Center for Autism in Issaquah is turning technology into treatment.
"It`s always a barrier for our kids with autism to connect socially and with peers especially," said Lakeside counselor Peiera Miller.
That's where the Kinect comes in. The gaming system is helping to teach basic skills most of us take for granted.
When Landon Kacatin arrived at Lakeside three years ago, he wasn't talking. "He's OK with adults, but with children that's very difficult for him; he would avoid it all the time," said his mother, Laconia Kacatin.
After just a year of playing games on the Kinect, Landon isn't just talking to other kids, he's rooting for them.
Curemark LLC Reports Positive Phase III Results of CM-AT In Children With Autism
Wednesday, December 7th - 2011
RYE, New York, Dec. 7, 2011 – Curemark LLC, a Rye, New York-based drug research and development company, today announced that its Phase III double blind randomized placebo controlled multicenter clinical trial of CM-AT for autism met its primary and secondary endpoints. The trial compared CM-AT to placebo in children with autism aged 3 – 8. Top line results demonstrate a statistically significant effect of CM-AT over placebo on both core and non-core symptoms of autism. Analysis of the full trial data is ongoing and the results will be presented at an upcoming medical meeting.
“We are extremely pleased with the results of our trial,” said Dr. Joan Fallon, CEO of Curemark. “We wish to thank all the children and their parents who participated in the study, and look forward to a full review of the data by the FDA.”
CM-AT has been granted Fast Track status by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The fast track programs of the Food and Drug Administration are designed to facilitate the development and expedite the review of new drugs that are intended to treat serious or life-threatening conditions and that demonstrate the potential to address unmet medical needs.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
A team of scientists at a California non-profit organization just announced a pilot study to determine if Ecstasy might help fight the effects of autism. This isn’t the first time that MAPS, or the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, has researched the psychiatric benefits of MDMA. A 2010 study of twenty Iraq veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder found that a combination of Ecstasy and therapy resulted in an 80-percent success rate, high enough to convince the Food and Drug Administration to greenlight further studies of the drug.
To assess the effect of escitalopram in the treatment of pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs).
This 10-week study had a forced titration, open-label design. Twenty-eight subjects (mean age 125.1 +/- 33.5 months) with a PDD received escitalopram at a dose that increased weekly to a maximum dose of 20 mg as tolerated. The Aberrant Behavior Checklist-Community Version (ABC-CV) and the Clinical Global Impression scale (CGI) were used to assess outcome.
To determine the effect of serotonin transporter polymorphism promoter region (5-HTTPLR) genotypic variation (low, intermediate, and high expression groups) on response to escitalopram treatment of children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).
Monday, December 5, 2011
BOSTON,Dec. 5, 2011/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- It's still unclear what's different in the brains of people withspectrum disorders (ASDs), but evidence from genetic and cell studies points to abnormalities in how brain cells (neurons) connect to each other. A study at Children's Hospitalnow provides visual evidence associating autism with a disorganized structure of brain connections, as well as defects in myelin -- the fatty, insulating coating that helps nerve fibers conduct signals and that makes up the brain's white matter.
Researchers led byMustafa Sahin, MD, PhD, of the Department of Neurology,Simon Warfield, PhD, director of the Computational Radiology Laboratory, and first authorJurriaan Peters, MD, of both departments at, used advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to image the brains of 40 patients (infants to age 25) with tuberous sclerosis complex and 29 age-matched,controls. Tuberous sclerosis is a rare genetic condition often associated with cognitive and behavioral deficits, including ASDs about 50 percent of the time....Armed with these, Sahin has launched a Phase II clinical trial of a rapamycin-like drug called Afinitor® (everolimus; formerly RAD001), sponsored by, the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance and Autism Speaks. The trial will enroll 50 patients with TSC to test whether Afinitor improves neurocognition, autism, seizures and sleep disorders. "Specifically modulating neurocognition with a small molecule is only starting to be done," says Sahin. (For more on this trend, seethis related blog post.)
Read more:Autism May Involve Disordered White Matter in The Brain | Medindiahttp://www.medindia.net/health-press-release/Autism-May-Involve-Disordered-White-Matter-in-The-Brain-123572-1.htm#ixzz1fgxcOj9a
"Face recognition is an important social skill, but not all of us are equally good at it," says Beijing Normal University cognitive psychologist Jia Liu. But what accounts for the difference? A new study by Liu and colleagues Ruosi Wang, Jingguang Li, Huizhen Fang, and Moqian Tian provides the first experimental evidence that the inequality of abilities is rooted in the unique way in which the mind perceives faces. "Individuals who process faces more holistically" - that is, as an integrated whole - "are better at face recognition," says Liu. The findings will appear in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal published by the Association for Psychological Science
Friday, December 2, 2011
In a newly published study involving autistic adults, half of those who took Prozac (fluoxetine) experienced meaningful declines in repetitive behaviors.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Researchers led by Connie Kasari, Ph.D., discovered children with ASD who attend regular education classes are more likely to improve their social skills if their typically developing peers are taught how to interact with them.
Notably, the indirect educational method appears to improve skills better than if the ASD children are directly taught such skills. The National Institutes of Health-funded study suggests a shift away from more commonly used interventions that focus on training children with ASD directly may provide greater social benefits for children with ASD.
The study was published online ahead of print in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Brain synapses are the connections between neurons that enable them to communicate with each other.
In a new study published in Nature, Bear and his team have just discovered that tuberous sclerosis is caused by the opposite malfunction, i.e. too little synthesis of those synaptic proteins. Tuberous sclerosis is another rare disorder characterized by autism and mental retardation.
Mark Bear, Picower Professor of Neuroscience and a member of MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, says that although the findings may appear counterintuitive, they nevertheless apply to the theory that autism can be caused by a wide spectrum of brain-synapse glitches.
Tailor-made treatmentsAccording to Bear's discovery, not all cases of autism spectrum disorder will respond to the same kind of treatment. He says:
"This study identified one functional axis, and it will be important to know where a patient lies on this axis to devise the therapy that will be effective. "If you have a disorder of too little protein synthesis, you don't want to inhibit the neurotransmitter receptor that stimulates protein synthesis, and vice versa." More @ http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/238296.php
Unable to watch the seizures continue to wrack their daughter’s tiny body, Ann Marie Angelucci said she and her husband were willing to try anything — and pay anything — to help their child diagnosed with autism.
On the advice of other parents, they took Carolyn to a doctor for hyperbaric oxygen treatments, which cost $90 each and required their 5-year-old to lie repeatedly in a pressurized chamber flooded with oxygen.
They also paid $15,000 to install a chamber in their Yardley, Pa., home. Six months later, with no sense the treatment was helping, the Angeluccis sold the device on eBay for about half the price they paid.
"I cannot say one way or another if it helped her. There was no measurable effect," said Angelucci, a nurse and central New Jersey native. "But I wouldn’t tell a family not to do it, because you never know. You’ll grasp at anything that might help."
Come January, the state health department will decide for the first time whether a hospital — Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center in Secaucus — should be allowed to offer this experimental and controversial treatment for children with autism.
Judging from the sentiments on both sides of the issue, there is a lot at stake. Traditional medical experts say hyperbaric treatment offers families false hope while draining their bank accounts because insurance doesn’t cover it. Advocates say the approach deserves more respect and attention by researchers because some families swear it has helped their children communicate and learn.
If the state licenses the hospital’s hyperbaric chambers for experimental use, the work would be overseen by Philip DeFina, who has a doctorate in clinical psychology from an accredited online university. His work with neurologist Jonathan Fellus treating coma and brain-injured patients commands $100,000 a year in out-of-pocket costs from hopeful families across the country, according to the two doctors.
Should the state give its approval, the statewide advocacy group Autism New Jersey won’t recommend it.
"There might be some anecdotes, and they are a nice start to develop a hypothesis, but they in no way substantiate claims of efficacy," said Suzanne Buchanan, clinical director for Autism New Jersey. She suggests families explore the evidence-supported applied behavioral analysis, which requires a child to break down desired actions into smaller steps that are repeated.
Buchanan also recommends "hopeful skepticism" with anything deemed experimental.
"You have to explore things that could make a positive difference," she said, "but if you are not skeptical, you could be led down the wrong path."
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
More than two decades ago, Marilyn Daniels began researching the benefits of sign language — not just for deaf people, but for hearing children and babies and those with learning disabilities and autism.
Several books and many seminars and classes for parents and educators later, the studies by Daniels and others have proven true. Today, ASL (American Sign Language) is taught in colleges, universities, preschool and elementary schools and is the third most used language in the United States.
“It's more popular than ever,” partly because learning the manual language creates anatomical changes in the brain, Daniels told a group of parents and teachers during an October presentation called “Sign to Speak” at the Spring Lake Library.
Introducing a new language promotes the growth of synapses that connect to memory, she said. “We have separate stores for each language in the brain's left hemisphere (in right-handed people). We know this from observing PET (positron emission tomography) scans.”
Teaching sign language, which is visual, manual and spacial, along with the spoken word to a hearing child, multiplies their sensory memories. Another memory, the kinesthetic or muscle memory, also kicks in, she said.
“Your hand remembers how to do it,” Daniels said. “So if you know the sign for a word, all kinds of other things are going on.”
And all of it good, she said. “There is no downside to this.”
Erica Lozinski, a special-education teacher at Wall Primary School, agrees. She said she signs to her students, whose disabilities range from speech delays and autism to cognitive disabilities and Down syndrome.
Monday, November 21, 2011
A new study published in PLoS One, worked with six non-verbal autistic children. The students received forty individual sessions, five times a week over an eight-week treatment period involving Auditory-Motor Mapping Training (AMMT). This treatment promotes speech production using intonations and double-handed movements to train the association between sound and communicative action. This involves singing and playing an instrument as the trainer tunes words to the beat of the drum.
AMMT understands the limitations of autism and offers its children a fun way to learn, capitalizing on an autistic child's natural inclination for music. With up to 25% of children with autism struggling to speak, communication deficits represent the largest problem for people with autism, and AMMT offers a realistic solution.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
People with autism can benefit from occupational therapy, both at home and at school. Autism is a complex developmental disorder. A person who has autism often has trouble communicating and interacting with other people. The person’s interests, activities, and play skills may be very limited.
What’s the role of occupational therapy (OT) in treating autism?
Occupational therapists study human growth and development. They are experts in social, emotional, and physiological effects of illness and injury. This knowledge helps them promote skills for independent living in people with autism.
Occupational therapists work as part of a team that includes parents, teachers, and other professionals. They help set specific goals for the person with autism. These goals often involve social interaction, behavior, and classroom performance.
Occupational therapists can help in two main ways: with evaluation and therapy.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Friday, November 4, 2011
Japanese researchers who took hair samples from nearly 2,000 diagnosed autistic children, aged from birth to three, found almost half of them had a zinc deficiency.
The team, from the La Belle Vie Research Laboratory in Tokyo, concluded that zinc deficiency could lead to autism.