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Spectrum: Autism Research News

Spotted A roundup of autism papers and media mentions you may have missed.

Anxiety app; favorite things; overheard words and more

by  /  13 July 2018

July 9th

Anxiety app

Autistic adults can access an app, Molehill Mountain, designed to help them manage their anxiety, King’s College London announced 10 July. The app relies on cognitive behavioral therapy approaches that have been adapted for people on the spectrum.

Favorite things

Hats, books, rolls of old-fashioned film, a beloved backpack. These items are among the examples autistic New Yorkers gave the public radio station WNYC when asked about their favorite stim toys, objects they use to self-soothe through repetitive movement. The story was published 7 July on Shots, NPR’s health news resource.

Overheard words

A small study suggests that children on the spectrum are like other children in their ability to pick up new words simply by overhearing them. Researchers reported 3 July on the linguistic advantage of eavesdropping in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders / 03 Jul 2018
Bilingual advantage

Speaking of words, concerns that children with autism might experience negative effects from bilingual homes appear to be unfounded. A review of the evidence suggests a positive influence on both verbal and nonverbal communication. Autistic children from bilingual households show a particular advantage in their use of nonverbal cues such as gestures, The Conversation reported 5 July.

Tech coach

Google Glass can serve as a social coach for autistic people, delivering information about facial expression and eye movement to the user. Investigators from the Autism Glass Project say that the device can teach users to read eight emotions, including happiness, anger, fear and disgust. Researchers talked about their unpublished findings, based on more than 100 people, 5 July in the South China Morning Post.

Income influence

Ethnicity and socioeconomic status interact to affect parental awareness of the signs of developmental conditions, such as autism. In particular, low-income Latino parents in the United States who are not fluent in English tend to have less experience with and awareness of these conditions, researchers reported 4 July in Academic Pediatrics.

Screening shortfall

Despite considerable discussion about the importance of early intervention for developmental conditions, screening and surveillance rates in the U.S. remain dismally low. Only about one-third of young children are screened for these conditions, with huge differences among states, researchers reported 9 July in JAMA Pediatrics.

Cycle considerations

Autistic women who menstruate have many of the same questions and concerns as those not on the spectrum. This perhaps predictable finding, published 7 July in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, emerged from what researchers call the first study to ask autistic women about their experiences with menstruation.

Women on the spectrum did report some autism-specific challenges related to menstruation, including sensory responses and emotional and behavioral regulation.

Romantic revelations

Romance novelist Helen Hoang, who is autistic, wrote her first book as a way to process her autism diagnosis, she told NBC News 5 July. She also said that she wanted to create a heroine on the spectrum because books and other media only rarely portray autistic characters accurately.

Best care

Primary-care physicians see their practices as the best place for children on the spectrum to receive care for physical and behavioral conditions related to their autism. Investigators described these findings and discussed the accommodations such practices make for this population 7 July in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

News tips

Do you have a new paper coming out? Are you making a career move? Did you see a study or news story that you want to share? Send your news tips to [email protected].