Published by: Spectrum News
Written by: Lauren Schenkman
Silencing several autism- or schizophrenia-linked genes in the thalami of mice increases neuronal excitability there and leads to memory problems reminiscent of those seen in people with these conditions, a new study shows. A drug that reverses the hyperexcitability boosts the animals’ recall, suggesting an avenue for future therapies, researchers say.
“It’s exciting to see how different genetic changes can converge onto the same circuits in the brain, and even onto the same physiological mechanism,” says Audrey Brumback, assistant professor of neurology and pediatrics at the University of Texas at Austin, who was not involved in the research. “We’re really then getting toward the final common pathway that could be a target for treatment.”
Mice lacking the high-confidence autism-linked gene PTCHD1 in the thalamic reticular nucleus, a subregion of the thalamus, are hyperactive and have attention deficits, according to a 2015 study. In the new work, the same team eliminated PTCHD1 expression and the expression of four other genes linked to either autism or schizophrenia in a different subregion, the anterodorsal thalamus. Click here to read the rest of the story.
Published by: Spectrum
Written by: Elizabeth Svoboda
Kimberlee McCafferty knew something was different about her son Justin when he was just a baby. He had stopped babbling around his first birthday. He rarely accepted the food she offered or interacted with others, and his favorite pastime was spinning his toys across the wood floor. Before he turned 2, Justin was diagnosed with autism.
The diagnosis sent McCafferty, of Brick, New Jersey, on the kind of medical odyssey familiar to many parents: batteries of behavioral tests, dietary changes and a menu of therapy options. A few months into this journey, an autism specialist at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., examined Justin, who is now 18, and rendered a sweeping judgment about his future. “Your child will never speak or live independently,” the doctor told McCafferty flat out. His words dropped like an anvil, leaving McCafferty shaken. “I remember thinking, ‘That’s a pretty damning statement to make when the child is not yet potty trained.’”
Specialists say families are right to be skeptical of such point-blank verdicts. The business of making such forecasts in young children is fraught, especially because some children defy them in unexpected ways. “We see huge variability in how symptoms progress,” says So Hyun “Sophy” Kim, assistant professor of psychology in clinical psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City. “It’s not always easy to predict what’s going to happen down the road.”
Yet researchers have assembled a rich body of data about how autistic people do over time and can provide certain kinds of nuanced projections. The work points to several broad life trajectories for autistic children — rough sketches of how a child’s adolescence and adulthood may unfold. The data also point to subtle, early behavioral markers of future growth or difficulties in specific areas, as well as genetic variants that affect the arc of a child’s trajectory. Some of the research could help clinicians gauge an autistic child’s risk of having mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression as well. Click here to read the rest of the story
Media is slowly getting better in it’s portrayal of people with autism in both movies and television, while many still hold onto to the perception of “Rain Man”, I do believe we are moving in the right direction. Still, little is discussed or talked about when it comes to children and adults with severe autism. Some may refer to severe autism as “low functioning when in fact autism is a spectrum in both symptoms and behaviors and varies from person to person.
Children and adults with severe autism often display the following signs :
Impaired social interaction
Difficulty in communicating- both expressive and receptive
Obsessive compulsive disorder
According to the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), there are 3 levels of severity based on social communication impairments, restricted, and patterns of behaviors. The severity level (Level 3) is defined as requiring very substantial support. For example the person may exhibit very limited initiation of social interaction and extreme difficulty with coping and change. signs may include an indifference in others, using negative behavior to communicate, very little or echolalia, sensory sensitivity will vary from severe to none, may be self-injurious and have an intellectual disability. Below you will find articles on understanding severe nonverbal autism:
Source: Cerebral Palsy News Today
Written by: Marisa Wexler
A recent study found that adults with cerebral palsy have a higher risk of developing mental health conditions, highlighting the need for better holistic care in this population.
The study, “Prevalence of Mental Health Disorders Among Adults With Cerebral Palsy: A Cross-sectional Analysis,” was published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
Most research on cerebral palsy (CP) focuses on children because, until relatively recently, it wasn’t that common for people with CP to live through adulthood. That paradigm is rapidly changing, so it’s necessary for researchers and clinicians to understand the challenges adults with CP face so they can be given the best possible care and support to have not just a longer life, but higher quality of life. Click here to read the rest of the story.