Validating autism subtypes: A crucial but often overlooked step in research

Published by: Spectrum Autism Research News
Written by:  HILDE GEURTS, JOOST AGELINK VAN RENTERGEM

The practice of categorizing autistic people into subtypes based on similarities in their traits and abilities is divisive. Subtypes can have negative connotations, evoking images of stereotyping and marginalization.

For decades, the autism spectrum was, by definition, a collection of subtypes, including Asperger syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified. But there was no clear clinical distinction between the subtypes, and they did not fully capture the inherent variation among people on the spectrum. So the fifth and most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, to which clinicians refer to make diagnoses, retired them from use in 2013.

That said, there are often good reasons for subtyping. Identifying subtypes of people who share particular genetic variants may be useful, because these variants may be associated with specific medical issues. Subtyping analysis can also be used to demonstrate the nonexistence of certain subtypes. Or it can help researchers to identify who benefits most from a particular kind of support, without focusing on etiology or ontology.

For these reasons, we should not categorically stop conducting subtyping analyses. But research should focus on the discovery of meaningful subtypes of autism. To seek consensus among scientists on the number and nature of subtypes, we conducted a systematic review of the autism subtyping literature. We limited our search to articles published since 2001 that had used a statistical or machine-learning method to discover subtypes of autistic people. These subtyping methods are data-driven: The researchers did not search for a specific number of subtypes and did not specify in advance what the subtypes would look like; they let the data speak for itself.

We identified 156 articles that met our criteria. Of these, 82 percent found that two to four subtypes described their data well. But these subtypes reflected a highly diverse set of measures, including levels of inflammatory markers, scores on autism trait and sensory sensitivity questionnaires, tests of language skills, hormone levels and patterns of facial features, and this diversity made it difficult to find consensus or draw any firm conclusions. Because the samples included variables that are so heterogeneous across many of these studies, it is impossible to determine whether researchers were looking at the same subdivision from different angles or discovering different subdivisions every time. Click here to read the rest of the story.

Coping with Loneliness When Your Spouse Has ADHD

Published by: Healthline
Written by: Erica Cirino

Are you in a relationship with someone who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)? If so, you’re not alone. While many people associate ADHD with childhood, it’s also commonly diagnosed in adults.

And while much research has been done to study the lives and well-being of adults with ADHD, less research has been done to understand what it’s like to be a non-ADHD partner who’s in a relationship with or dating someone with ADHD.

However, as more studies are done and more people share their stories, it’s clear there are some challenges to being a spouse or partner of someone with ADHD. Although this condition can affect a marriage or partnership in a variety of ways, one of the most frequent difficulties is an overwhelming feeling of loneliness.

We’ll discuss the many ways ADHD can affect adult relationships, how to seek professional help, and how to cope if you’re the non-ADHD partner.

What symptoms of ADHD can affect a relationship?

ADHD is a chronic mental health disorder that’s marked by symptoms like inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behaviors and speech. In the United States, it’s estimated that ADHD affects 8.4 percent of children and 2.5 percent of adults.

Experts aren’t completely sure what causes this common mental health disorder. However, research suggests that genetics, physical makeup, and external factors — like a person’s home environment — may contribute to developing the disorder. Click here to read the rest of the story.

 

National Birth Defects Prevention Month

Start: January 1-January 30, 2021

January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month and is a nationwide effort to raise awareness of birth defects and the impact on families.

Birth defects can be diagnosed during pregnancy or after the baby is born. Birth defects occur when there are structural changes during the first three months of pregnancy affecting one or more parts of the body. About 1 in 33 babies (3%) are born in the United States is born with a birth defect. Birth defects are also the leading cause of infant deaths accounting for 20% of all infant deaths.

Types of birth defects include:

  • Anencephaly
  • Spina Bifida
  • Cleft Lip/Cleft Palate
  • Down Syndrome
  • Microcephaly
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Edwards Syndrome
  • Patau Syndrome

Resources

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer a digital toolkit and materials- Birth Defects COUNT Free Materials | CDC

You can join March of Dimes TwitterChat  by following@Marchofdimes

Use the hashtags on your social media #nationalbirthdefectsprevention, #birthdefects

World Braille Day

Date: January 4, 2022

World Braille day is an international day sponsored by the United Nations to celebrate the importance of braille and to celebrate the birthday of Louis Braille, the creator of the braille writing system.

The first World Braille day was celebrated on January 4, 2019. The proclamation was signed November, 2018 by the United Nations General Assembly.

Louis Braille was born on January 4, 1809 near Paris, France while playing with his father’s tools at the age of 3, he lost his sight and at the age of 10, was sent to the Royal Institute for Blind Youth. Inspired by Charles Barbier night reading system at the age 15, Louis invented the braille system which became more widely used in 1854. The braille system was quickly adopted by other schools in France and would eventually be used worldwide.

Resources

You can find out more information on the Path to Literacy website: January 4th is World Braille Day | Paths to Literacy

Braille Activities and Resources

Braille Teaching Resources

Helpful Braille Resources You Should Know About

Teaching Visually Impaired Students

11 strategies that improve emotional control at school and home

Published by: ADDitude Magazine

Written by:

Emotional regulation is a life-long skill that yields benefits in school, work, and relationships. Here are simple strategies for teaching kids to recognize, name, and mange their intense ADHD emotions. Executive function and emotional control walk in lockstep. Stress and emotional flooding affect how children with ADHD learn, play, engage with classmates, follow directions, and retain information. When they enter a heightened state of arousal, their ADHD brain wiring can interfere with social-emotional learning and sabotage self-regulation, making it difficult to access the curriculum, respond appropriately, reframe challenges, react with strategies, or problem solve. Click here to read the rest of the story