Spotted A roundup of autism papers and media mentions you may have missed.
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Spotted around the web: Week of 31 December 2018

by  /  4 January 2019

December 31st

Research roundup

  • The deletion of a large chunk of a chromosome may alter not only the expression of neighboring genes, but also that of the rest of the genome. Nature Communications
  • A lower density of nerve fibers in the corpus callosum may help explain the slower processing seen in the brains of some people with autism. Molecular Autism
  • Poor motor skills at 6 months of age may augur an autism diagnosis and difficulties with expressive language in children at high risk for autism. Infant Behavior and Development
  • Repetitive behaviors in autistic children don’t necessarily interfere with their ability to explore and learn from their environment. PLOS One
  • When looking at a face, it is easier to focus on the eyes if the face is tilted to the side, an adjustment that may help autistic individuals who have difficulty engaging in conversations. Perception
  • Support cells in the brain called glia show modest changes in a rat model of autism. Molecular Autism
  • Video game-based therapy may help children with autism and co-occurring attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

Science and society

  • The partial shutdown of the U.S. government that started 22 December continues to affect a growing number of federal institutions, including the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration. The Wall Street Journal
  • Nearly 30 pharmaceutical companies are reportedly planning to raise the U.S. prices of their medicines this month. Reuters
  • Crowdfunding to cover gaps in medical care often raises money for treatments that are not scientifically sound. NPR
  • A new PBS documentary on James Watson, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, reveals that the scientist remains unapologetic about his racist view of black people’s intelligence, despite the lack of genetic evidence to support it. The New York Times
  • A science-based approach to learning how to read, rather than the popular ‘contextual guessing’ method used in schools, may help improve children’s reading proficiency. NPR
  • A Los Angeles-based software-testing company is staffed entirely by autistic individuals who are interested in coding and debugging. BBC
  • Drake University psychologist Maria Valdovinos is advocating for autistic families to get better access to applied behavioral analysis (ABA) therapies in Iowa. Des Moines Register
  • Alabama lawmakers passed a bill requiring insurance companies to cover ABA therapy for children with autism. CBS42
  • Companies that have more inclusionary policies for people with intellectual disabilities outperform their competitors. The New York Times

Autism and the arts

  • The McNeese Theatre in Lake Charles, Louisiana, is debuting a play about autism this spring to increase public understanding of neurodiversity. KPLC
  • Some mental-health experts are calling for ‘trigger warnings’ on films that may negatively affect people who are sensitive to certain themes or stimuli. Psychology Today


  • Some lab leaders use a points system to determine authorship, based on the amount each lab member contributed to a project. Science