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Test Measures Children's Ability to Distinguish Between Faces

Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
August 20, 2014

People with autism often have trouble recognizing faces, and tend to avoid looking at others' eyes. These deficits may contribute to their difficulty picking up on social cues. An adaptation of an adult face recognition test for children will make it easier to chart the development of children’s abilities, researchers say. The new test is described in a study published in Neuropsychologia.

IACC Workshop on Under-Recognized Co-Occurring Conditions in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Date Published: 
August 19, 2014

The IACC Workshop on Under-Recognized Co-Occurring Conditions in Autism Spectrum Disorder that will take place on Tuesday, September 23, 2014, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET at The National Institutes of Health, John Edward Porter Neuroscience Research Center, 35 Convent Drive, Building 35, Room 620, Bethesda, MD 20892.


Onsite registration will begin at 8:30a.m.

Agenda: The IACC Workshop on Under-Recognized Co-Occurring Conditions will focus on a range of co-occurring health conditions in individuals with ASD that are under-recognized in clinical and services settings, as well as how to best support both research and increased community/provider awareness of these conditions and foster development of guidelines in areas that are currently under-recognized.

Meeting location:
The National Institutes of Health
John Edward Porter Neuroscience Research Center
35 Convent Drive, Building 35, Room 620
Bethesda, MD 20892

Nearest Metro stop:
Medical Center Metro Station – Red Line

In the interest of security, NIH has instituted stringent procedures for entrance onto the NIH campus.  All visitor vehicles, including taxicabs, hotel, and airport shuttles will be inspected before being allowed on campus. Visitors will be asked to show one form of identification (for example, a government-issued photo ID, driver’s license, or passport) and to state the purpose of their visit. On-site parking is available for a fee, but very limited.

The meeting will be open to the public and pre-registration is recommended. Seating will be limited to the room capacity and seats will be on a first come, first served basis, with expedited check-in for those who are pre-registered. Please visit the IACC website for access and information about registering.

Public Comment – Deadlines:
Notification of intent to present oral comments: Monday, September 8, 2014 by 5:00 p.m. ET
Submission of written/electronic statement for oral comments: Wednesday, September 10, 2014 by 5:00 p.m. ET
Final Deadline for Submission of written comments: Wednesday, September 10, 2014 by 5:00 p.m. ET

Please read the IACC Public Comment Guidelines and the full Workshop Announcement for detailed information about public comment requirements.

Remote Access:
The meeting will be remotely accessible by videocast  (http://videocast.nih.gov/) and conference call.  Members of the public who participate using the conference call phone number will only be able to listen to the meeting. 

Conference Call Access 
USA/Canada Phone Number: 888-469-0570

Access code: 7134439

Individuals who participate using this service and who need special assistance, such as captioning of the conference call or other reasonable accommodations, should submit a request to the contact person listed below at least five days prior to the meeting. If you experience any technical problems with the conference call, please e-mail at helpdeskiacc@gmail.com or call the IACC Technical Support Help Line at 415-652-8023.

Please visit the IACC Events page for the latest information about the meeting, including registration, remote access information, the agenda, materials and information about prior IACC events.


Contact Person for this meeting is:

Ms. Lina Perez 
Office of Autism Research Coordination
National Institute of Mental Health, NIH
6001 Executive Boulevard, NSC
Room 6182A
Rockville, MD 20852
Phone: 301-443-6040
E-mail: IACCpublicinquiries@mail.nih.gov

Age Alters Patterns of Chemical Tags on Sperm DNA

Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
August 18, 2014

The configuration of methyl tags that modify DNA in sperm change as men get older, according to a study published PLOS Genetics. These alterations may help explain why children of older fathers are at increased risk for neuropsychiatric disorders such as autism. Researchers at the University of Utah collected sperm from 17 men, once in the 1990s and again in 2008. They found that the distribution of methyl tags, a particular kind of DNA modification, shows relatively consistent changes over time in the sperm. However, the study does not necessarily prove that these altered patterns survive past fertilization or influence the risk of disorders such as autism.

Signaling Imbalance Skews Sensory Responses in Autism Mice

Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
August 11, 2014

Mice modeling autism have trouble integrating different kinds of sensory information such as sight, sound and touch. A study published in Neuron reports that an imbalance between signals that calm neurons and those that excite them leads to these sensory problems.

Autism Science Foundation Issues New Request for Scientific Grant Proposals


ASF is inviting applications for pre- and postdoctoral training awards and medical school gap year research training awards from graduate students, medical students and postdoctoral fellows interested in pursuing careers in basic and clinical research relevant to autism spectrum disorders.

Grants will fund pre- and postdoctoral autism research fellowships
and medical school gap year research fellowships

Informational Conference Call: September 15, 2015, 12:00pm et

(August 11, 2014—New York, NY)--The Autism Science Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting and funding autism research, today announced that it had issued a new request for scientific proposals. ASF is inviting applications for pre- and postdoctoral training awards and medical school gap year research training awards from graduate students, medical students and postdoctoral fellows interested in pursuing careers in basic and clinical research relevant to autism spectrum disorders. In the past five years, ASF has funded $1.5 million in pre- and postdoctoral grants.

"We have increased our funding for pre- and postdoctoral fellowships every year for the past five years and expect to expand it again this year,” said Alison Singer, president of the Autism Science Foundation.  “We are committed to supporting outstanding young investigators who want to dedicate their careers to autism research.”

"We are so grateful to all our donors and volunteers who have come together to support autism research and who make these grants possible" said Karen London, co-founder of ASF.

The proposed training must be scientifically linked to autism. Autism Science Foundation will consider for training purposes all areas of related basic and clinical research including but not limited to: human behavior across the lifespan (language, learning, communication, social function, epilepsy, sleep, repetitive disorders), neurobiology (anatomy, development, neuro-imaging), pharmacology, neuropathology, genetics, genomics, epigenetics, epigenomics, immunology, molecular and cellular mechanisms, studies employing model organisms and systems, and studies of treatment and service delivery. Applications must be received by November 14, 2014. Awards will be announced in March 2015 for projects beginning July-September 2015.

Additional information about this RFA can be found at http://autismsciencefoundation.org/ ApplyForaGrant.html

The Autism Science Foundation will hold an informational conference call regarding the predoctoral, postdoctoral, and medical school fellowship RFA on September 15, 2014 at 12:00pm ET.  The call will outline best practices for completing the application. Participation on the conference call is NOT required for application.  The call in number is: 866-906-9888 and the participant code is 2574613#

ASF also has an open RFA for Research Mini-Grants of up to $5000 to expand the scope, increase the efficiency and improve final product dissemination of active autism research grants.  Applications for mini-grants are due by September 12, 2014. 

Additional information about the Research Mini-Grant RFA can be found at http://autismsciencefoundation.org/apply-research-mini-grant.

The Autism Science Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity. Its mission is to support autism research by providing funding to scientists and organizations conducting, facilitating, publicizing and disseminating autism research. The organization also provides information about autism to the general public and serves to increase awareness of autism spectrum disorders and the needs of individuals and families affected by autism.

To learn more about the Autism Science Foundation’s grant programs, and to read about projects funded through this mechanism in prior years, visit www.autismsciencefoundation.org


Contact Info:  
Meredith Gilmer
Autism Science Foundation


Language Tool Aims to Measure Children's Conversation Skills

Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
August 6, 2014

A test designed to characterize natural, spontaneous language use in autism shows solid promise in its first trials in typically developing children. The results were published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.The researchers assessed the ease of use and reliability of the test in 180 typically developing children in Michigan, ranging in age from 2 to 5 years. They confirmed that the youngest children can do the various tasks on the test and that the codes developed for the test match the skills of the oldest children. The researchers' goal is to build a baseline of standard scores against which the scores of children with autism or other communication disorders can be compared.

Tools for Autism Screening Must Vary with Language, Culture

Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Date Published: 
August 1, 2014

At its core, autism is the same disorder worldwide. And ideally, it should be possible to identify it consistently and accurately everywhere. But most screening methods for the disorder were developed in the U.K. and U.S., and linguistic and cultural differences can affect their performance elsewhere.

Senate Passes Autism Bill

The Hill
Date Published: 
June 31, 2014

The Senate passed a bill Thursday night that reauthorizes federal support for autism programs. The Autism CARES Act, H.R. 4631, requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to designate an official to oversee national autism spectrum disorder (ASD) research. It also extends autism education programs through 2019. The House passed the measure by voice vote last month and the Senate agreed to it through a unanimous consent agreement. The bill now heads to President Obama’s desk for his signature.

ASF President Alison Singer on Good Morning America Comments on Research About Kids Moving Off the Spectrum

Good Morning America
Date Published: 
July 31, 2014

New research by Cathy Lord and Deborah Fein suggests 10% of kids with autism achieve "optimal outcome." Autism Science Foundation President Alison Singer speaks about this new research on Good Morning America, saying there's no miracle cure, and that we need more research so we can discover why certain children are improving so that the same opportunity for improvement can be expanded to more children.

Autism Study Seeks Brain Tissue Donations

Date Published: 
July 10, 2014

A lab called Autism BrainNet is collecting brains for study. The belief is that brain tissue study is the key to solving autism. Unlike with Alzheimer's disease, where literally thousands of brains have been studied, during the last three decades only 100 autism brains have been studied. Four to five brains are donated for research every year. The Autism BrainNet study is looking to triple that number with the hope of answering some of the most basic questions about the disorder. For more information about the program go to: www.takesbrains.org