I frequently see requests from graduate students, hospitals and universities asking family members, children and adults with autism to consider participating in a research study. Too often the studies are being conducted in settings a distance from Erie in large cities and university centers. For that reason, our participation has typically been online questionnaires about the treatment that we use and find effective for children with autism. So whether you live in a big city or a small town, there are always opportunities to become engaged in research.
Here are two recent reports that reflect the importance of involvement.
- A study on brain synapses on autism led by Drs. Tang and Sulzer is helping us to understand the differences of brain structure that are found in autism. For typical children, the number of synapses decreases as they grow older. In persons with autism, the number of synapses fails to decrease in the same way as a typical child. This is leading scientists to seek new drugs that will treat autism by restoring normal pruning of brain cell connections.
- Amy Weitlauf and her team from the Vanderbilt Evidence Based Practice Center reported to the U.S. Agency on Healthcare Research and Quality that there has been a dramatic increase in the scientific evidence backing the effectiveness of intensive behavioral therapy for children with autism. There is a clear consensus that early intensive intervention can significantly improve the lives of children with autism thereby saving money by promoting greater independence later in life.
So often I have read that we cannot find the cure for autism until we identify the causes. However, by participating in research, we can help the investigators come closer to the causes and the most effective treatments. If you are willing to consider some opportunities, I’ve included a few links to pursue.
- It Takes Brains
- Vanilla Autism Study
- Autism Speaks
- Primary Care Stepping Stones – Positive Parenting Program