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Spectrum: Autism Research News

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

Randomized trial repository; Beijing brain center; global science march and more

by  /  20 April 2018

April 16th

Randomized trial repository

Wouldn’t it be great to have a list of all randomized controlled trials of autism treatments? Well, here you go: Investigators have compiled spreadsheets listing all 529 such studies they identified, specifying DOIs, types of intervention and other key features. The spreadsheets are included as supplemental material in an 11 April survey published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

The trials have an average of 49 participants, pointing to a need for bigger studies, the researchers write. The number of trials has increased sharply in the past decade, and the most common intervention assessed is antipsychotic medication. The journal that published the most trials? The very same one that published the survey.

Beijing brain center

China is establishing a brain science center in Beijing to serve as the core facility for the country’s ambitious brain research project, Nature reported 5 April. In addition to 50 investigators based at the new center, another 100 across the nation will be receiving external grants as part of the brain project. China hopes the project will rival similar large brain initiatives in other countries.

Global science march

Science fans on every continent joined forces again on 14 April for this year’s March for Science. Science tracked dispatches from march groups around the globe, including a tweeted image from scientists overwintering in Antarctica. The team holds a sign quoting naturalist Alexander von Humboldt in German: “Knowledge and understanding are the joy and justification of humankind.”

Drug disappointment

After a promising start out of the gate, riluzole has not proved effective for autism-related irritability in a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Riluzole is a medication currently approved to treat the neurodegenerative condition amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The trial, reported 11 April in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, was tiny, involving only eight people on the spectrum who had irritability that wasn’t responsive to other therapy. They each took the drug daily for five weeks and placebo for five weeks, with a two-week no-treatment period in between.

Brain imaging database

The aptly named NeuroVault offers brain researchers a place to post and find maps and other data derived from brain imaging studies. Investigators can use the interface to upload papers and images or to pore over the data on offer. The effort exists to “collect and distribute statistical maps of the brain,” according to the site’s ‘frequently asked questions’ page.

NeuroVault / 18 Apr 2018
Accessing education

Many parents of children with autism are familiar with the IEP, or individualized education program, a document that confirms the services a school will provide to a child needing special education. But for a black parent, attending IEP meetings can come with an additional layer of challenges. Writing 17 April for Catapult, Taylor Harris chronicles what it’s like to advocate for her son “in a room full of people who don’t look like us.” This distinction creates obstacles to access that go beyond what many parents and children encounter in an IEP meeting, she writes.

Pinning down the moments she and her husband recognize bias isn’t straightforward, Harris writes. “It might be in the way my husband gets cut off mid-sentence, or how I share the same concern five times without being acknowledged,” she says, or how her husband feels like he has to counter resistance “with just the right tone so as not to be confused with the angry black man.”

Lego Titanic

An Icelandic boy with autism has gained fame for building the world’s largest replica of the Titanic, the ill-fated ship, using Lego bricks. The 26-foot-long, 5-foot-tall model took more than 700 hours and 56,000 bricks to build, CNN reported 16 April. The replica is on display at the Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Acceptable apparel

Scratchy clothing can feel like a cactus suit for someone with sensory sensitivities, which are common among people with autism. PBS Kids and online retailer Zappos have teamed up to create options for children who can’t bear to wear clothing with unfriendly tags and fasteners. The products will be soft, button-free, gender-neutral and reversible, Disability Scoop reported 12 April.

Zappos began offering ‘adaptive clothing’ for the disability community last year and has a staff of specialists who help shoppers with specific adaptive-clothing needs, Disability Scoop reported.

News tips

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