The Autism Science Foundation Weekly Science Podcast is a summary of the latest research in autism spectrum disorders. This podcast will discuss new science, research discoveries, meetings and discussions, news reports, and other information important to those affected by autism especially families.
A potential biomarker to AID, not MAKE, a diagnosis
The media has just called another biological marker a “diagnostic test”, when in this case, it was always intended to be an aid, not a test itself. It involves using baby hair strands to look a variation in metabolism of certain chemical elements across time. Remarkably, it showed similar results in autistic children in Japan, the US and Sweden. It’s not ready to be used as a diagnostic test, so what is it supposed to do? Listen to an interview with the inventor and researcher, Dr. Manish Arora from The Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai School here.
The full article (open access) can be found here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9740182/
The true title should be: “A new open source screening tool to help detect autism”
Many of the existing tools to identify autism cost money or are not specific for ASD, and they are hidden behind paywalls and are hard to obtain. A group of scientists led by Tom Frazer at John Caroll University put together a 39 questionnaire called the Autism Symptoms Dimensions Questionnaire to be filled out by parents of children. It’s free and open source! But that’s just the first step. The media got the intent wrong, yet again.
It should not replace a full diagnosis. Autism is complex, and even those with genetic forms of autism show heterogeneity in symptoms. They each need comprehensive evaluations. But this is a good start. Check it out here!!! It’s open source:
Can you say strengths and deficits at the same time?
People tend to go towards a “strengths only” or “weaknesses only” approach to describing autism. But even if you think about a single aspect of autistic challenges – social communication – autistics can show both. How can you measure this, and even more importantly, document it to play to someones strengths while addressing their impairments at the same time? Special guests Dr. Matthew Lerner and Jacquelyn Gates from Stony Brook University explain how this can be done by clinicians.
Some important discoveries of 2022
It’s that time! The ASF Year of End Science Wrap-up was published in December, so it’s time to share it on the podcast. We cover everything from parent mediated interventions to genetics and racial and ethnic disparities. You can listen here or read it on the ASF website here: https://autismsciencefoundation.org/autism-research-in-2022/
The full semantic toolbox referring to autism
Last week a publication (see below) was published as a commentary in the journal Autism Research. It states that researchers, parents, clinicians, educators and the overall community should not be limited in their use of language to describe the broad condition of autism. Some people experience impairments, deficits, and have limitations. Not only is it true, we should be talking about it. This podcast describes the motivation for the paper and the potential consequences of mandating the use terms that may not accurately reflect the diversity of experiences. While some papers have been published with the opposite sentiments, it’s important to understand both sides of this debate. We hope this paper leads to further conversation about this topic.
One key to better mental health: cognitive flexibility
Stressful life events, among other things, affect autistics more than those who are typically developing. Why? What would cause this vulnerability? New studies suggest that cognitive inflexibility may be the key. Autistic people tend to have problems with cognitive flexibility. As a whole, they show problems with flexible thinking, changing direction and being adaptable to new situations. This is clearly tied to insistence on sameness, a core feature of ASD. Can anything help? Research needs to look at the link between improving cognitive flexibility and mental health, but in the meantime, there are things that can be done to improve skills in this area. Check out a few below.
Cognitive Flexibility: Keeping thinking limber and flexible
Cognitive Rigidity in Autism
🅰️Ⓜ️elia is my name too
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A must listen for Parents
I have been listening to this podcast for years and I am so grateful for this resource as a parent of a boy with ASD. Alycia distills the relevant science news and explains it in a manageable yet intelligent way. I also must give her and this podcast credit for helping me make an informed decision on having a second child, which I did, and also the awareness of sibling studies, which I was able to enroll my second son in even before he was born.
This is informative, the speaking is usually clear, it covers a lot of different topics, and is overall interesting. My biggest fault with it is the random songs at the start that grate on my nerves but that’s just my opinion