Archived News Entries

British author Charlotte Moore wrote about life with her two autistic sons in "George and Sam: Two Boys, One Family, and Autism,"published in 2007. In an upcoming edition of the book, Moore expands her family's story to give readers a glimpse into going through adolescence with autism.

In a study published February 17 in the American Journal of Psychiatry, a research team led by Dr. Joseph Piven at the University of North Carolina identified different developmental trajectories of white matter in the brains of infants who subsequently developed autism compared with infants who did not. Images taken at six months, one year and two years of age showed 12 of 15 major brain pathways developed differently in 28 infants who later exhibited autism, generally characterized by a “slowing” of white matter growth, compared with the 64 other infants who did not. “These results offer promise that we may one day be able to identify infants at risk for autism before the behavioral symptoms are present,” said study co-author Geri Dawson, Chief Science Officer for Autism Speaks.

According to a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) study published on February 2  in the American Journal of Human Genetics, investigators have tracked the activity, across the lifespan, of an environmentally responsive regulatory mechanism that turns genes on and off in the brain's executive hub. Genes associated with schizophrenia and autism belong to a small subset of genes that methylate inversely compared with most other genes. Intensive methylation, which is an epigenitic process, occurs prenatally, and the lead author of the study, Dr. Barbara Lipska, hypothesizes that "Regulation of these genes may be particularly sensitive to environmental influences during this critical early life period." The study also found that methylation levels differed in 85% of the X chromosome sites measured, which might offer an explanation as to why autism and schizophrenia occur at substantially different rates between genders.



The Des Moines Register today profiled Jeff Paprocki, an autistic adult with severe behavior challenges including self-injury. Jeff currently lives in a hospital psychiatric ward due to a shortage of community service providers that can support his needs.

The Chicago Tribune reports that a 15-year-old boy with Asperger's syndrome was shot and killed this morning in his home, after cutting a police office with a knife. The teen, Stephon Watts, had a history of aggressive behavior, according to police. The boy's mother has stated that the family was advised by social service professionals to call the police during incidents of violent behavior. A news conference is scheduled for later today to provide further information on the incident.

A handbook on adult guardianship law in the state of Maryland has been updated for the first time in over a decade and is available online in both PDF and interactive formats. The handbook is a collaboration between The Law & Health Care Program at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law (UM Carey Law) and the Delivery of Legal Services Section Council of the Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA). This updated version was revised by Virginia Rowthorn, JD, Managing Director of the Law & Health Care Program at UM Carey Law , and Ellen Callegary, JD, a prominent elder law and disability lawyer in Maryland.

The New York Times on Thursday examined how upcoming changes to the newest version of the "Diagnostics and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders" (DSM-V) may impact diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorders, and as a consequence, access to services. The "DSM" is the resource utilized by doctors and mental health professionals in diagnosing conditions and coding them for insurance reimbursement. The new version is due to be published in 2013.

Researchers at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies examined factors predicting which teens with ASD were likely to become drivers in a study published this month in The Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. Their conclusions point to a need to address driving in Transition Plans. "Although a significant proportion of teens with higher functioning autism spectrum disorders were driving or learning to drive, the fact that most driving teens' individualized education plans did not include driving goals suggests an area of opportunity for improvement in transition planning. Driving teens were more frequently in regular education settings with college aspirations, which could help schools identify potential drivers," the article notes.

In a BBC interview, a woman with ASD, Alex Jordan, discusses how she feels like a prisoner in her own home due to her inability to cross the street. Jordan, who lives in Dorset, has been stuck by cars seven times in the past year.

A study reported in the January Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found that the increased use of respite and home/community aid services was associated with a decrease in the risk of psychiatric hospitalizations for children, adolescents, and young adults with ASD. In their conclusion, researchers noted that, "Respite care is not universally available through Medicaid. It may represent a critical type of service for supporting families in addressing challenging child behaviors. States should increase the availability of respite care for Medicaid-enrolled children with autism spectrum disorders."