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Spectrum: Autism Research News

July 12th

Research roundup

  • Endocrine-related conditions, including menstrual irregularities and excess androgens, occur more often in autistic women than in non-autistic women and correlate with autism traits. Autism
  • Mice missing one copy of the autism-linked gene WDFY3 have mitochondrial dysfunction and a reduced number of synapses in the cerebellum as adults. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
  • Poor face processing, not theory-of-mind challenges, may cause an inability to recognize others’ emotions in people with autism, but not in those with schizophrenia. Journal of Abnormal Psychology
  • There is only limited and inconclusive evidence for the safety and efficacy of probiotic, prebiotic, symbiotic and fecal microbiota transplantation therapies for autism, according to a new review of the literature. Autism Research
  • Autistic adolescents and adults are more likely than their non-autistic peers to say they use alcohol or other substances to manage behavior and mental health. Spectrum reported on the link between autism and addiction in 2017. The Lancet Psychiatry
  • Social anxiety questionnaires that rely on self-reports appear to work equally well in people with and without autism. Autism Research
  • A cannabinoid-like compound that acts on specific ion channels in neurons reverses repetitive behaviors and memory deficits in a mouse model of fragile X syndrome. Brain
  • A new method adds spatial information to the transcriptomes of single cells in a mouse embryo. Science
  • Young adults with autism appear more likely than those without to express gender dysphoria, particularly if they experienced mental health challenges or bullying during adolescence. Autism
  • Expanding the catalog of how proteins physically interact — the interactome — can help reveal novel regulatory mechanisms. Cell
  • Attention training via a computerized program may improve academic performance and school behavior in autistic students. Autism Research
  • Autistic adolescents’ self-reports may diverge from their parents’ assessments of their executive function, though both groups say cognitive inflexibility is the greatest challenge. Spectrum reported in 2018 on researchers’ increasing use of self-reports to better understand how people experience autism. Autism
  • A “Ninja Training” video game, which helps autistic children practice poses inspired by yoga and tai chi, improves balance and reduces autism trait severity but does not improve daily living skills. Spectrum covered the growing field of therapeutic video games for autism in 2018. Brain Communications
  • Among several autism-relevant molecules measured in the cerebrospinal fluid of rhesus macaques, only vasopressin levels reliably predicted individual differences in social impairment. Molecular Autism

Science and society

  • The University of Rochester memorialized autism researcher Tristram Smith, who died in 2018, with a whimsical bench by artist Paul Knoblauch. NeURoscience
  • The Biden administration has voiced support for more home-based healthcare, but allocating funds for it has been difficult. U.S. News & World Report
  • Many publications’ style guides dictate person-first language — ‘person with autism’ — whereas many autistic people prefer identity-first phrasing: ‘autistic person.’ BuzzFeed News

    Woman at protest holding sign which says, "My Autism is Awesome"

    Owning identity: Many people view their autism as an essential part of their identity.

    Christoph Soeder / AP Images

  • In a new book, autistic author Clem Bastow asks why special interests in people on the spectrum are framed as pathological whereas similar attention and mastery are commended in non-autistic people.
    The Guardian
  • A U.S. federal appeals court agreed with a Massachusetts school for people with developmental disabilities that an electric shock device may be used to interrupt aggressive or self-harming behaviors. Reuters

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TAGS:   autism