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Autism News

Kids with autism may inherit DNA mutations from dads

San Diego, California — A new study probing so-called noncoding DNA has found that alterations in regions that regulate gene activity may also contribute to autism.

 

What’s more, these variations tended to be inherited from fathers who do not have autism. The researchers found that over 50 percent of alterations in noncoding genes came from the fathers of children with autism.

 

In autism, brain’s emotion hub begins with too many cells: study

Davis, California — According to a study newly published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, extra neuronal connections may sprout from the amygdala in young children with autism, possibly helping to explain such children’s difficulty in emotional self-regulation. The amygdala is a brain region that governs fear and other emotions.

 

The data dovetails with existing research indicating that an enlarged amygdala in children with autism gradually assumes a typical size as they get older. Researchers have also seen a similar trend for overall head size in autism.

 

Top autism gene may alter sensory perception

Seattle, Washington — An unusual brain response to sound may distinguish children with mutations in SCN2A, a leading candidate gene for autism, according to a new University of Washington study in the journal Brain Cognition.

 

The researchers characterized the effects of SCN2A mutations in ten children. Most of the children were too severely impaired for cognitive tests, so the researchers turned to electroencephalography (EEG), a brain imaging technique that can pick up on responses to sound. The researchers outfitted the children with a flexible cap covered in tiny electrodes and played a series of tones. Their brains automatically detected the tones.

 

The researchers plotted the EEG readings across the group to look for boosts in activity in response to the altered tones. They focused on seven children with a type of SCN2A mutation linked to autism, and compared them with their unaffected parents. Like their parents, the children noted a change in pitch, but their response came early, suggesting they are hypersensitive to sounds—a common symptom of autism.

 

Advocates push again for FDA corrective shock device ban

Washington, D.C. — This March, members of disability rights group ADAPT demonstrated for 12 consecutive days outside FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s condo. And this past April 13, ADAPT and two other disability groups held the first of two planned call-in days.

 

Their concern? The highly limited but ongoing usage of corrective shock devices by the Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton, Massachusetts.

 

The handful of devices are worn by youths at the Center with extremely challenging behavioral disabilities. They deliver non-harmful electric shocks to wearers in the event of adverse behaviors that are injurious to themselves and/or others—and then, only for a few seconds at most and only after repeated verbal warnings by staff.

 

The Center has built a decades-long following for treating the most extreme cases that failed treatment else. It will only put the devices on students in the first place after its in-house expert panel extensively reviews of the individual’s profile and history. Few Center students get them.

 

Rotenberg Center staff and supporters have for years claimed humane and successful usage of the devices, arguing that they work where all else fails. Critics call them torture tools.

 

In 2014 and 2016, the FDA issued proposals banning the devices; advocates are now renewing their call for the federal agency to finalize and enforce those proposals.

 

Zappos, PBS Kids Launching Line of Adaptive Apparel

Arlington, Virginia — The popular children’s program PBS KIDS is developing a line of clothing aimed at meeting the unique sensory and adaptive needs of kids with disabilities.

 

The non-profit company will be working with online apparel retailer Zappos to introduce the new line to the retail market, Disability Scoop recently reported.

 

Apparel in the line will include t-shirts and lounge pants showcasing dinosaurs, rainforests, oceans and air travel, all designed to be sensory friendly with no buttons, dissolvable tags and soft fabric.

 

The pieces are gender-neutral and reversible in order to allow for greater independence in dressing, according to Zappos and PBS Kids. Prices will range from $26 to $32 and the clothing will be available in sizes 18m to 6x.

 

April: National Autism Awareness Month

Bethesda, Maryland — National Autism Awareness Month, the annual advocacy effort created by the Autism Society, was marked for the 25th consecutive year this April. The month-long effort, which kicked off with the April-2nd World Autism Awareness Day, is meant to “to promote autism awareness, inclusion and self-determination for all, and assure that each person with ASD is provided the opportunity to achieve the highest possible quality of life,” according to the U.S. group.