Many parents of children with autism show some mild traits of the disorder. Research on this group — labeled with the ‘broad autism phenotype’, or BAP — suggests that the genetic underpinnings that lead to language or social problems can manifest in very different ways.
Spectrum: Autism Research News
Several studies in the past year in people, mice and honeybees have tied autism to a protein that helps neurons communicate. Problems with the protein, neurexin 1, are associated with a wide range of autistic behaviors, such as impaired social interactions, anxiety and problems with learning and memory.
Toddlers with autism pay less attention to faces than do healthy controls, but both groups give equal attention to objects, according to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. The findings challenge the idea that individuals with autism have a generalized problem with attention, suggesting instead that they struggle with attending specifically to social stimuli, researchers say.
At 6 months of age, babies who will later develop autism begin to lose some of their social skills and continue to regress until age 3, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.
The ability to recognize faces and interpret facial expressions is programmed partly by genes and inherited separately from other traits, according to three independent studies published this year.
When thinking about themselves, adults with autism have lower activity in two specific brain regions than do healthy controls, according to an imaging study published in the February issue of Brain.
An early intervention method called the Early Start Denver Model can help children with autism improve their language and behavioral skills, and raise their intelligence quotients, according to a study published in Pediatrics.
Using new genetic screening technology, a few research groups are finding that a surprisingly large number of children with autism — at least five percent — have an underlying problem with their mitochondria, the energy factories of the cell.