2022: A Major Year for Advances in Autism Research

Over the next few weeks, I thought I would share some of the highlights in Autism Research in 2022.

Early Identification

  • CDC updated developmental milestones to track what 75 percent of children can do by certain ages instead of 50 percent, which was typical in the past. New research reinforced the need to focus on milestones and the importance of early intervention.
  • The Baby Siblings Research Consortium showed that maternal education levels and early gestures are important predictors in language skills, which are important predictor of the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis.

Parent-Mediated Interventions in Training

  • A review of 30 studies showed promising results from parent mediated interventions, but more research is needed.
  • Parent mediated interventions can be used for teaching everything from core autism symptoms to self-care tasks (toothbrushing).

The Brain

  • The greatest differences in gene expression in the brain are in sensory areas like the visual cortex, which may explain why so many persons with ASD have sensory processing issues.
  • The visual area (the occipital cortex) was enlarged at young ages more so in children who have siblings who have a diagnosis of ASD, demonstrating that genetic inheritability plays a role in brain activity involved in sensory processing in families.
  • The amygdala (another brain region) may relate to anxiety with persons with autism. Certain areas of the amygdala are different in size and may explain variability in anxiety.
  • It seems that the ability to make gains or show potential for change over time is correlated with differences in brain structure. It is established that persons with ASD experience higher levels of anxiety, which appears to be linked to insistence on sameness.

Next week I will provide additional information about parental genetics, environmental factors, underserved communities, and the variety of disorders often associated with ASD.

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1 Response to 2022: A Major Year for Advances in Autism Research

  1. This is great information. I have a son with autism and a special needs school in Sierra Leone, West Africa.

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