Service Delivery

Autism Treatment: Science Hijacked to Support Alternative Therapies

Source: 
Chicago Tribune
Date Published: 
November 22, 2009

Dr. Carlos Pardo, a Johns Hopkins neurologist, and his colleagues autopsied the brains of people with autism who died in accidents and found evidence of neuroinflammation. This rare look inside the autistic brain had the potential to increase understanding of the mysterious disorder.

He knew it could also inspire doctors aiming to help children recover from autism to develop new experimental treatments -- even though the research was so preliminary the scientists did not know whether the inflammation was good or bad, or even how it might relate to autism. He was right.

Over and over, doctors in the autism recovery movement have used the paper to justify experimental treatments aimed at reducing neuroinflammation.

Autism Treatment: Risky Alternative Therapies Have Little Basis in Science

Source: 
Chicago Tribune
Date Published: 
November 22, 2009

Thousands of U.S. children undergo these therapies and many more at the urging of physicians who say they can successfully treat, or "recover," children with autism, a disorder most physicians and scientists say they cannot yet explain or cure. But after reviewing thousands of pages of court documents and scientific studies and interviewing top researchers in the field, the Chicago Tribune found that many of these treatments amount to uncontrolled experiments on vulnerable children. 

The therapies often go beyond harmless New Age folly, the investigation found. Many are unproven and risky, based on scientific research that is flawed, preliminary or misconstrued. Laboratory tests used to justify therapies are often misleading and misinterpreted. And though some parents fervently believe their children have benefited, the Tribune found a trail of disappointing results from the few clinical trials to evaluate the treatments objectively.

Experts Summarize the State of Research in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Source: 
Science Daily
Date Published: 
October 14, 2009
Abstract: 

Scientific understanding and medical treatments for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) have advanced significantly over the past several years, but much remains to be done, say experts from the Center for Autism Research at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia who recently published a scientific review of the field.

Autism Science Foundation President Alison Singer Speaks

Source: 
BlogHer
Date Published: 
October 7, 2009
Abstract: 

Autism Science Foundation president Alison Singer is well known in the autism community for her formative role at Autism Speaks, for her controversial participation in their Autism Every Day video, and for leaving Autism Speaks to found the Autism Science Foundation.

She a role model for autism parents struggling to balance advocacy with positivity and work with family, especially those who tirelessly investigate ways to help our children lead fulfilling lives, actively respect neurodiversity, and continue to educate ourselves and others about autism perspectives and attitudes.

Read on to learn about the founding and goals of the Autism Science Foundation.

Racial/Ethnic Disparities in the Identification of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Source: 
American Journal of Public Health, Mandell, Wiggins, et al
Date Published: 
2008
Year Published: 
2008

Fifty-eight percent of children had a documented autism spectrum disorder. In adjusted analyses, children who were Black (odds ratio [OR] = 0.79; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.64, 0.96), Hispanic (OR = 0.76; CI = 0.56, 0.99), or of other race/ethnicity (OR = 0.65; CI = 0.43, 0.97) were less likely than were White children to have a documented ASD. This disparity persisted for Black children, regardless of IQ, and was concentrated for children of other ethnicities when IQ was lower than 70.

Significant racial/ethnic disparities exist in the recognition of ASD. For some children in some racial/ethnic groups, the presence of intellectual disability may affect professionals' further assessment of developmental delay. Our findings suggest the need for continued professional education related to the heterogeneity of the presentation of ASD.

Mortality and Causes of Death in Autism Spectrum Disorders: An Update

Source: 
Autism, Mouridsen, Bronnum-Hansen, et al
Date Published: 
2008

This study compared mortality among Danish citizens with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) with that of the general population. A clinical cohort of 341 Danish individuals with variants of ASD, previously followed over the period 1960-93, now on average 43 years of age, were updated with respect to mortality and causes of death. Standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) were calculated for various times after diagnosis. In all, 26 persons with ASD had died, whereas the expected number of deaths was 13.5. Thus the mortality risk among those with ASD was nearly twice that of the general population. The SMR was particularly high in females. The excess mortality risk has remained unchanged since our first study in 1993. Eight of the 26 deaths were associated with epilepsy and four died from epilepsy. Future staff education should focus on better managing of the complex relationships between ASD and physical illness to prevent avoidable deaths.

Screening Strategies for Autism Spectrum Disorders in Pediatric Primary Care

Source: 
Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Pinto-Martin, Young, Mandell, Poghosyan, Giarelli, Levy
Date Published: 
2008
Year Published: 
2008

Two strategies have been proposed for early identification of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD): (1) using a general screening tool followed by an ASD-specific screening tool for those who screen positive on the former or (2) using an ASD-specific tool for all children. The relative yield of these two strategies has not been examined. 

This study compared the number of children identified at risk for ASD at their well child visits between the ages of 18 and 30 months using a general developmental screening tool and an autism-specific screening tool. 

The PEDS missed the majority of children who screened positive for ASD on the M-CHAT, suggesting that these two tools tap into very different domains of developmental concerns. The findings support the use of an ASD-specific tool for all children in conjunction with regular standardized developmental screening.