Advances in the Field of Autism

autism advances 2012It’s been a year of headlines in the field of autism. Autism Speaks Scientific Advisory Board Committee published the top 10 autism research advances of 2012.  It’s a quick and understandable resource guide to the latest research findings. I liked it a lot and wanted to share it with you.  Three take-aways for me were:

  • The increased prevalence of autism from 1 in 112 to 1 in 88 and 1 in 54 boys tells us that autism is truly a public health emergency and demands immediate attention.
  • Chemical pollutants (i.e. PCB’s, certain pesticides, smoking and air pollution) affect brain development in ways that may predispose someone to autism.
  • An intensive early intervention program for toddlers with autism, the Early Start Denver Model, significantly improved brain activity related to social responsiveness. This may be the first demonstration that a behavioral intervention for autism is associated with changes in brain function as well as positive changes in behavior.

Additionally, the Director of National Institute of Mental Health blogged about the progress in autism research. In it he says “ASD has emerged as one of the hottest areas of biomedical research.” Because we have significantly increased our investment in autism research this past decade, we have expanded our understanding of autism.  We are at the fore front on how to best support people living with autism and determining the causes.  We’ve come a long way in our research advances and discoveries and I look forward to what 2013 will bring.”

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