Autism Research Articles

As we wind down Autism Awareness Month, I thought that I would review some of the latest research in autism. There is some excellent information that I wanted to share! Read on!


CSF and autism revisited

Examining the levels of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in children may become the first biomarker that could predict autism. The first study investigating levels of CSF only included 55 infants, of which only 10 developed autism. The latest study included 343 infants, of which 221 were considered high risk of developing autism because they had an older sibling with autism. The children who developed the most severe autism had 24 percent more CSF. The research team found that the increase in CSF could predict which babies would go on to develop autism with 70 percent accuracy.

Read the full article here.

Virtual Training May Help Young People With Autism Land Jobs

New research suggests that practicing job interview skills by using a virtual simulator could significantly increase employment for young adults with autism. The study focused on individuals on the spectrum ages 16 to 26. Those who participated in a virtual employment training program had better interviewing skills, had less anxiety, and were much more likely to get hired within six months than those who only received typical pre-employment transition services.

Read the full article here.

Proteins linked to top autism gene might aid early diagnosis

According to a new study, researchers have found that blood levels of proteins associated with autism-linked gene, PTEN, could help clinicians diagnose autism. The study examined the intelligence quotient (IQ) and the blood levels of various proteins in 25 participants with autism and 16 participants without autism. Those found with high levels of PTEN tended to have lower measures cognitive skills.

Read the full article here.

‘Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood’ Adds Character With Autism

Meet Max, a new character with autism, who is joining the PBS KIDS show “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” this April. Max sometimes takes longer to feel comfortable with new people and situations, but he likes numbers, buses, bugs, and his older sister.

To develop Max’s character, the show’s creators collaborated with Wes Dotson, an associate professor of special education at the University of Missouri. Max is voiced by Israel Thomas-Bruce, a teenager from Toronto who is on the autism spectrum.

Read the full article here.

New study uses machine learning to find biomarkers for an autism subtype linked to maternal immune reaction

Researchers have been able to correctly predict a subgroup of autism, known as maternal autoantibody-related autism spectrum disorder (MAR-ASD), which may affect up to 18 percent of individuals with autism. The study focused on a subset of children with MAR-ASD and used a new machine learning technique that searches for patterns in blood samples.

Read the full article here.

Amid Pandemic, ‘Sesame Street’ Aims To Help Children With Autism Adapt

The “Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children” initiative has new materials that are designed to help families adjust to changes in routine. These materials include online videos, a storybook, an interactive game, articles for parents, and a new episode of “Sesame Street” that aired earlier in the month featuring Julia, a 4-year-old muppet with autism.

Read the full article here.

Virtual autism assessments are likely here to stay

Researchers and clinicians say that virtual autism assessments have been more successful than they anticipated, and they plan to continue a virtual option after the pandemic ends. Virtual assessments allow observations to be made in the child’s home environment and offer options to families in a wider geographical area.

Read the full article here.

Gaze-tracking app predicts diagnosis in toddlers

Clinicians tested a new mobile phone app that aims to help determine whether children as young as 17 months should be referred to a specialist for an autism evaluation.  By tracking eye-gaze patterns, the app can distinguish between children who later receive an autism diagnosis and those who do not with 90% accuracy.

In this study, the app plays videos of conversing adults and adults playing with toys. The children whose gaze did not follow the flow of conversation and was tracked looking at the toys were later diagnosed with autism.

Read the full article here.

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