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: The Baltimore Sun
Written by: Mary Carole McCauley
Four-year-old Daniel Smith zoomed by, seated on a child-sized zip line, his dark curls bouncing. Daniel flew until he was above the cushiony crash pit. Off Daniel tumbled into the pillows, with a delighted screech.
Daniel’s mom, Jessica Smith of Bel Air, laughed with him.
“Daniel has so much energy,” she said. “I go to the gym every day, and I’ve been thinking, ‘I have to find someplace for my son.’ I love that this gym is completely kid-friendly and that it is for everybody.”
We Rock the Spectrum Gym’s Forest Hill branch opened in June 2020. The national organization includes nearly 100 sites in 25 states and eight countries and aims to provide therapeutic play for kids with disabilities.
“Everybody who comes through this door knows they will be accepted,” said Nikki Wooton, the former elementary school teacher who owns the Forest Hill franchise with her husband, Trey Wooton, a church youth minister. She estimates that about half their young customers are neurotypical, like her 14-year-old daughter, Alyssa. About half are not, including her 16-year-old son, Connor, who has been diagnosed with high-functioning autism. Click here to read the rest of the story
Signs and symptoms of Down syndrome is fairly easy to detect especially since there are specific physical characteristics of the disorder. But what if there is also a diagnosis of autism?
Studies show that 5 to 39% of children with Down syndrome are also on the autism spectrum. There are overlaps in some of the symptoms which delays the signs and symptoms of autism. This observation is slowly growing and informing parents and educators to observe for specific signs and symptoms.
It is possible that educators and therapist may be the first to notice that children with Down syndrome also display characteristics that are similar to autism.
Why is it important?
According to authors Margaret Froehlke and Robin Zaborek from the book, When Down Syndrome and Autism Intersect, The education approach in both Down syndrome and autism will be different than for children with a single diagnosis of Down syndrome including accommodations and writing the IEP. Teaching strategies will also differ. Teaching a student with Down syndrome who require tactile demonstrations, simple directions, and immediate feedback will now require concrete language, social stories, the use of few choices and the use of concrete language.
The importance of getting the diagnosis
Most often children with Down syndrome are treated for the characteristics of having Down syndrome which overlooks giving children the appropriate treatment for Autism such as social skills and sensory issues. A child or young adult with both diagnosis will likely experience aggressive behaviors, meltdowns, and show signs of regression during their early development. The following are signs and symptoms to look for in your child, or student:
- Hand flapping
- Picky eater
- Fascination with lights
- Staring at ceiling fans
- History of regression
- Head banging
- Strange vocalization
- Seizure Disorder
Signs of overlap include:
As the student gets older, there may be ongoing issues with sensory disorders and transitions leading to meltdowns
Autism and Meltdown Resources
Printable Down Syndrome Fact Sheet
When Down Syndrome and Autism Intersect: A Guide to DS-ASD for
Parents and Professionals
By Margaret Froehlke, R. N. & Robin Zaborek, Woodbine House, 218 pp.
Published by: Forbes Magazine
It seems like every category of bedding is getting an upgrade these days, whether it’s in the form of memory foam mattresses or custom pillows.
Chances are you’ve heard friends or family discussing these new product types, or maybe even saw someone receive one as a gift this past holiday season. But while weighted blankets have exploded in popularity in recent years, this innovative product isn’t necessarily new — it’s long been used in the special needs community, helping individuals on the autism spectrum, among others. Still, it wasn’t until companies like Gravity Blanket brought their flagship designs to the broader public that people began thinking of it not as a niche medical device, but a general sleep aid for the wider community.
Want to learn what all the hype is about? Here’s everything you need to know about weighted blankets, from their many benefits to how you can find one that perfectly complements your style of sleeping. Click here to read the rest of the story.