Tag Archives: Brain Development

Maternal Antibodies Linked to Autism

Some children with autism are born to mothers carrying antibodies that bind to proteins involved in brain development.
By Ed Yong | July 9, 2013 http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/36379/title/Maternal-Antibodies-Linked-to-Autism/

In 2008, Judy van de Water from the University of California, Davis, discovered a group of autoantibodies—those that trigger immune responses against the body’s own molecules—that are especially common in mothers of children with autism. Now, her team has identified what these antibodies bind to: six proteins involved in varied aspects of brain development. By crossing the placenta and affecting these proteins in a fetus’s brain, the maternal antibodies could increase the risk of developmental problems in some cases of autism, according to the new research, published today (July 9) in Translational Psychiatry.

“I cannot laud these authors enough,” said Andrew Zimmerman, a neurologist from the Kennedy Krieger Institute, who has also been studying maternal antibodies but was not involved in this study. “Given that, at present, only between 15 and 20 percent of children with autism have known causes—mainly genetic and infectious mechanisms—this will be a major advance.”

Van de Water’s team, led by graduate student Dan Braunschweig, is now using their discovery to develop a test that predicts a child’s risk of developing autism spectrum disorders based on the mother’s antibodies. “It would allow mothers to plan,” said van de Water, by enrolling their children in educational programs that promote social skills from an early age.

The antibody hypothesis would only apply to a quarter of autism cases at most, but van de Water said that it is valuable for affected parents to get some clues about the biology behind their children’s condition. “It provides some answers,” she said. “They couldn’t have done anything about this—it’s not like they did anything to cause the antibodies. But as a parent, you just want to know what happened so you can move forward.”

The proteins that the team identified have a wide variety of roles. STIP1 influences the creation of new neurons, for example, while cypin affects the number of branches they have. CRMP1 and CRMP2 stop neurons from growing and determine their length. YBX1 is involved in gene transcription, as well as neural migration during development. Finally, LDH is the most mysterious of the sextet but is also the most strongly linked to autism. Earlier studies suggest that it may play a role in metabolism or in responses to viruses or toxins.

All six are highly expressed in the fetal brain. Of 246 mothers with children living with autism, 23 percent had antibodies that recognized two or more of these proteins, compared to just 1 percent of 149 mothers with normally developing children. The antibodies have more than 99 percent specificity for autism risk, which means that they have less than a 1 in a 100 chance of finding a false positive.

Meanwhile, the team’s colleagues Melissa Bauman and David Amaral, also from UC Davis, injected eight pregnant rhesus monkeys with antibodies purified from mothers with autistic children. These monkeys were more protective towards their young during their first 6 months, compared to those that were injected with antibodies from women with neuro-typical children. As the young monkeys grew up, they showed unusual social behavior: compared to typical macaques, they were more likely to approach both familiar peers and strangers, even when their advances weren’t rewarded with sustained social interactions.

“Moving this to monkeys is a big step,” said Paul Patterson, a neuroimmunologist from the California Institute of Technology, who was not involved in the work. “This very careful behavioral study shows that at least some of the antibodies do have an effect on fetal brain development.”

Betty Diamond, an immunologist at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, agrees the studies represent “an important step forward.” However, she noted that antibodies often bind to many possible targets, and the proteins that the team identified may not be the relevant ones. She also said that some of the alleged target proteins are found within cells, “and it is not clear how or whether the antibodies can penetrate developing neurons.”

Zimmerman added, “Much work remains to be done to show how these antibodies are relevant, how they affect fetal brain development, and what factors lead some mothers to develop these antibodies.”

The team is now working to address these issues, trying to identify the specific parts of the six proteins that the antibodies stick to, determine how they affect the developing brain, and understand how they might be used to predict autism risk. Van de Water and Amaral are consulting for Pediatric Bioscience, which is creating a predictive test based on the results.

“The next step is to come up with a therapeutic to block the antibodies—not just to pick them up, but to do something about it,” said van der Water. Although the concept of preventing autism can be controversial, she points out that her panel of antibodies seem to correlate with the most severe symptoms and language problems.

Still, she is treading cautiously. “The parents have been surprisingly supportive,” she said. “But the autism field has been fraught with false alarms, so we want to be really careful.”

D. Braunschweig et al., “Autism-specific maternal autoantibodies recognize critical proteins in developing brain,” Translational Psychiatry, 3:e277, 2013.

M.D. Bauman et al., “Maternal antibodies from mothers of children with autism alter brain growth and social behaviour development in the rhesus monkey,” Translational Psychiatry, 3:e278, 2013.

Clarification (July 10): This story has been updated from its original version, which included this quote in relation to a potential test: “If it’s positive, their risk is virtually 100 percent”. With a 99 percent specificity for autism risk, such a test would still return false positives for 1 percent of the non-autistic population.

Our thanks the the-scientist.com for this article.

Question?: Schizophrenia In Children

Lisa asks…

Can mental illnesses such as autism and schizophrenia be passed on to children?

My fiance and I both of family members who suffer from these ailments, my sister has autism, and her mother has schizophrenia. When we decide to have children of our own, is their a higher chance that they might suffer from these conditions? Also, is my soon to be wife at risk of becoming schizophrenic herself? She is 19 and currently in good mental health.

admin answers:

Unfortunately neither of those conditions are particularly well understood.

It is true that there are believed to be genetic influences in both of them, but there are also many other factors that researchers are looking at. Exactly how much genetic influence is not clear at all, and a genetic history certainly doesn’t mean that children will develop them.

On the positive side, there is no evidence whatsoever that autism is influenced by vaccinations – something which has become internet folklore and has been disproven by recent large-scale scientific studies. Also early diagnosis of autism is becoming better, and autistic children who get early intervention therapies are showing great improvements.

Schizophrenia normally doesn’t develop until adulthood. Its cause is pretty much a mystery but research is concentrating on brain development. It certainly seems to have a genetic component, but research suggests that its onset can be signficantly affected by environmental factors like psychological stress.

With one known case in your family of each (and on different sides), and yourselves being presumably healthy, it doesn’t sound like the genetic risk is very significant for any children you might have. Remember also that these two conditions, while both affecting the brain, are unrelated so the risk is not increased by having one of each in the family.

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Question?: Rett Syndrome Genetics

George asks…

what is autism?

Im not sure what that is

admin answers:

Autism is a brain development disorder that impairs social interaction and communication, and causes restricted and repetitive behavior, all starting before a child is three years old. This set of signs distinguishes autism from milder autism spectrum disorders (ASD) such as Asperger syndrome.[2]

Autism has a strong genetic basis, although the genetics of autism are complex and it is unclear whether ASD is explained more by multigene interactions or by rare mutations.[3] In rare cases, autism is strongly associated with agents that cause birth defects.[4] Other proposed causes, such as childhood vaccines, are controversial and the vaccine hypotheses lack convincing scientific evidence.[5] Most recent reviews estimate a prevalence of one to two cases per 1,000 people for autism, and about six per 1,000 for ASD, with ASD averaging a 4.3:1 male-to-female ratio. The number of people known to have autism has increased dramatically since the 1980s, at least partly due to changes in diagnostic practice; the question of whether actual prevalence has increased is unresolved.[6]

Autism affects many parts of the brain; how this occurs is poorly understood. Parents usually notice signs in the first two years of their child’s life. Early behavioral or cognitive intervention can help children gain self-care, social, and communication skills. There is no cure.[7] Few children with autism live independently after reaching adulthood, but some become successful,[8] and an autistic culture has developed, with some seeking a cure and others believing that autism is a condition rather than a disorder.[9]
Contents
[hide]

* 1 Classification
* 2 Characteristics
o 2.1 Social development
o 2.2 Communication
o 2.3 Repetitive behavior
o 2.4 Other symptoms
* 3 Causes
* 4 Mechanism
o 4.1 Pathophysiology
o 4.2 Neuropsychology
* 5 Screening
* 6 Diagnosis
* 7 Management
* 8 Prognosis
* 9 Epidemiology
* 10 History
* 11 References
* 12 External links

Classification

Autism is a brain development disorder that first gives signs during infancy or childhood and follows a steady course without remission or relapse.[2] Impairments result from maturation-related changes in various systems of the brain.[10] Autism is one of the five pervasive developmental disorders (PDD), which are characterized by widespread abnormalities of social interactions and communication, and severely restricted interests and highly repetitive behavior.[2]
Hans Asperger introduced the modern sense of the word autism in 1938.
Hans Asperger introduced the modern sense of the word autism in 1938.[11]

Of the other four PDD forms, Asperger syndrome is closest to autism in signs and likely causes; Rett syndrome and childhood disintegrative disorder share several signs with autism, but may have unrelated causes; PDD not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) is diagnosed when the criteria are not met for a more specific disorder.[12] Unlike autism, Asperger’s has no substantial delay in language development.[13] The terminology of autism can be bewildering, with autism, Asperger’s and PDD-NOS often called the autism spectrum disorders (ASD)[7] or sometimes the autistic disorders,[14] whereas autism itself is often called autistic disorder, childhood autism, or infantile autism. In this article, autism refers to the classic autistic disorder, while other sources sometimes use autism or the autisms to refer to ASD,[15] or equate ASD with PDD.[16] ASD, in turn, is a subset of the broader autism phenotype (BAP), which describes individuals who may not have ASD but do have autistic-like traits, such as avoiding eye contact.[17]

The manifestations of autism cover a wide spectrum, ranging from individuals with severe impairments—who may be silent, mentally disabled, and locked into hand flapping and rocking—to less impaired individuals who may have active but distinctly odd social approaches, narrowly focused interests, and verbose, pedantic communication.[18] Sometimes the syndrome is divided into low-, medium- and high-functioning autism (LFA, MFA, and HFA), based on IQ thresholds,[19] or on how much support the individual requires in daily life; these subdivisions are not standardized and are controversial. Autism can also be divided into syndromal and non-syndromal autism, where the former is associated with severe or profound mental retardation or a congenital syndrome with physical symptoms, such as tuberous sclerosis.[20] Although individuals with Asperger’s tend to perform better cognitively than those with autism, the extent of the overlap between Asperger’s, HFA, and non-syndromal autism is unclear.[21]

Some studies have reported diagnoses of autism in children due to a loss of language or social skills after 14 months of age, as opposed to a failure to make progress. Several terms are used for this phenomenon, including regressive autism, setback autism, and developmental stagnation. The validity of this distinction remains controversial; it is possible that regressive autism is a specific subtype.[22][23][24]

Characteristics

Autism is distinguished by a pattern of symptoms rather than one single symptom. The main characteristics are impairments in social interaction, impairments in communication, restricted interests and repetitive behavior. Other aspects, such as atypical eating, are also common but are not essential for diagnosis.[25] Individual symptoms of autism occur in the general population and appear not to associate highly, without a sharp line separating pathological severity from common traits.[26]

Social development

People with autism have social impairments and often lack the intuition about others that many people take for granted. Noted autistic Temple Grandin described her inability to understand the social communication of neurotypicals as leaving her feeling “like an anthropologist on Mars”.[27]

Social impairments become apparent early in childhood and continue through adulthood. Autistic infants show less attention to social stimuli, smile and look at others less often, and respond less to their own name. Autistic toddlers have more striking social deviance; for example, they have less eye contact and anticipatory postures and are more likely to communicate by manipulating another person’s hand.[24] Three- to five-year-old autistic children are less likely to exhibit social understanding, approach others spontaneously, imitate and respond to emotions, communicate nonverbally, and take turns with others. However, they do form attachments to their primary caregivers.[28] They display moderately less attachment security than usual, although this feature disappears in children with higher mental development or less severe ASD.[29] Older children and adults with ASD perform worse on tests of face and emotion recognition.[30]

Contrary to common belief, autistic children do not prefer to be alone. Making and maintaining friendships often proves to be difficult for those with autism. For them, the quality of friendships, not the number of friends, predicts how lonely they are.[31]

There are many anecdotal reports, but few systematic studies, of aggression and violence in individuals with ASD. The limited data suggest that in children with mental retardation, autism is associated with aggression, destruction of property, and tantrums. Dominick et al. Interviewed the parents of 67 children with ASD and reported that about two-thirds of the children had periods of severe tantrums and about one-third had a history of aggression, with tantrums significantly more common than in children with a history of language impairment.[32]

Communication

About a third to a half of individuals with autism do not develop enough natural speech to meet their daily communication needs.[33] Differences in communication may be present from the first year of life, and may include delayed onset of babbling, unusual gestures, diminished responsiveness, and the desynchronization of vocal patterns with the caregiver. In the second and third years, autistic children have less frequent and less diverse babbling, consonants, words, and word combinations; their gestures are less often integrated with words. Autistic children are less likely to make requests or share experiences, and are more likely to simply repeat others’ words (echolalia)[23][34] or reverse pronouns.[35] Joint attention seems to be necessary for functional speech, and deficits in joint attention seem to distinguish infants with ASD:[1] for example, they may look at a pointing hand instead of the pointed-at object,[24][34] and they consistently fail to point to “comment” about or “share” an experience at age-appropriate times.[1] Autistic children may have difficulty with imaginative play and with developing symbols into language.[23][34]

In a pair of studies, high-functioning autistic children aged 8–15 performed equally well, and adults better than individually matched controls at basic language tasks involving vocabulary and spelling. Both autistic groups performed worse than controls at complex language tasks such as figurative language, comprehension and inference. As people are often sized up initially from their basic language skills, these studies suggest that people speaking to autistic individuals are more likely to overestimate what their audience comprehends.[36]

Repetitive behavior
A young boy with autism, and the precise line of toys he made
A young boy with autism, and the precise line of toys he made

Autistic individuals display many forms of repetitive or restricted behavior, which the Repetitive Behavior Scale-Revised (RBS-R)[37] categorizes as follows.

* Stereotypy is apparently purposeless movement, such as hand flapping, head rolling, or body rocking.
* Comp

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Question?: Autism Signs In Toddler Girls

Mary asks…

does autism in the family?

I am adopting a child who’s mother is mentally retarded, she also has another kid who has autism. What are the chances of this baby having autism or anything else. What are signs of it?

admin answers:

Yes, autism does run in families. The current thinking is that a sibling has a greater chance of developing autism with a close relative with the disorder, but there may be contributing environmental factors. Some of these factors might be exposure to high levels of mercury, digestive problems such as enzyme deficiencies, perhaps a virus, etc. There are some things you can do to lessen the odds of your baby developing full-blown autism, and I’d be happy to list a few.

1. Consider a delayed schedule for routine immunizations. There is some evidence that children at risk for autism may not be able to process the mercury present in vaccinations very well, which may affect the brain development.

2. Try a gfcf diet for a few weeks if you have a toddler, and see if his general behavior becomes more social and healthy. This is especially important if the child has frequent diarrhea. This is a sign that he is not digesting his food properly, which can seriously impact his development and behavior! There is a lot of info on the gfcf diet online for you. For an infant, consider soy formula, which is slightly less allergenic to these kids than dairy.

3. Stay away from large amounts of artificial and dyed foods. Autistic kids tend to be very sensitive to red dyes in particular.

4. Be aware of early signs of autism at around 12-15 months, such as the child not communicating through grunts or gestures, not pointing at things he wants you to see, and having a lot of trouble winding down at night or when stressed out. Feel free to email me if you need more help at that point, or have any questions.

5. Autism is four times more common in boys than girls. There is no real probability out there for siblings, but I’ve heard 1/32, 1/20, etc. I’d say that many siblings would be “sensitive” to developing autism, but for some reason, not all of them do.

I am the wife of a man with Asperger’s syndrome, (a form of high functioning autism) and the mother of three kids, one of whom has moderate-severe autism. We caught it early and he is making huge amounts of progress with proper treatment, so early intervention is key. Explore the use of digestive enzymes, which are a food product and are very safe, and don’t be afraid to ask other moms with autistic children for advice. Oftentimes, they know a little bit more than the doctors do when it comes to play therapy of nutritional supplements that can be helpful. Try the autism research institute and Dr. Bernard Rimland for a balanced perspective on the disorder.

Feel free to email me for more info.

Sunriseblessings@yahoo.com

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Question?: Pdd Autism

Mary asks…

Does anyone know the cause of autism? How to prevent my soon to be born daughter from having autism?

I’m currently pregnant and wonder if there’s anything I have to do to prevent autism? Is it true that certain vaccines can cause autism? Thank you

admin answers:

There is no known single cause for autism, but it is generally accepted by the medical community that it is caused by abnormalities in brain structure or function. Brain scans show differences in the shape and structure of the brain in autistic versus non-autistic children. Researchers are investigating a number of theories, including the link between heredity, genetics and medical problems. While no one gene has been identified as causing autism, in many families there appears to be a pattern of autism or related disabilities, further supporting a genetic basis to the disorder. Researchers are searching for irregular segments of genetic code that autistic children may have inherited. It also appears that some children are born with a higher susceptibility to autism, but researchers have not yet identified a single “trigger” that causes autism to develop.

Researchers are also investigating the possibility that, under certain conditions, a cluster of unstable genes may interfere with brain development, resulting in autism. Still other researchers are investigating problems during pregnancy or delivery, as well as environmental factors such as viral infections, metabolic imbalances, and exposure to environmental chemicals.

Autism tends to occur more frequently than expected among individuals who have certain medical conditions, including Fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, congenital rubella syndrome, and untreated phenylketonuria (PKU). Some harmful substances ingested during pregnancy have also been associated with an increased risk of autism. Early in 2002, The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) prepared a review of hazardous chemical exposures and autism and found no compelling evidence for an association. However, there was very limited research and more needs to be done to rule out chemicals.

The question regarding a relationship between vaccines and autism continues to be debated. In 2001, an investigation by a committee of the Institute of Medicine concluded that the “evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship…. Between MMR vaccines and autistic spectrum disorders (ASD).” The committee however, acknowledged that “they could not rule out” the possibility that the MMR vaccine could contribute to ASD in a small number of children. While other researchers agree the data does not support a link between the MMR and autism, they also agree more research is clearly needed.

Whatever the cause, it is clear that children with autism and PDD are born with the disorder or born with the potential to develop it. Bad parenting does not cause it. It is not a mental illness. Children with autism are not unruly kids who choose not to behave. Furthermore, no known psychological factors in the development of a child have been shown to cause autism.

Http://www.autism-society.org/site/PageServer?pagename=WhatIsAutism

If you are a normal healthy individual do not worry about any thing and keep yourself cheerful and healthy. Do the physical exersises as adviced by your Doctors regularly and think positively. Wish you all the best.

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Question?: Pdd Nos Symptoms

George asks…

Poll: Do you think vaccines cause or contribute to autism?

I’m curious to see what people really think.

admin answers:

No i dont believe they do whatsoever! I think parents are just being over cautious and flipping out for no reason. Vaccines have been around for ages, and now they are trying to say that it causes autisim? I dont think so. Dont you think there would have been more causes of that if it was actually linked to the vaccines. Its the same vaccine schedule, its not like the vaccines have changed much in the last 50 years.

Autism and autism spectrum disorders are complex neurodevelopmental disorders.Heritability contributes about 90% of the risk of a child developing autism, but the genetics of autism are complex and typically it is unclear which genes are responsible.Many other causes have been proposed, such as exposure of children to vaccines; these proposals are controversial and the vaccine hypotheses have no convincing scientific evidence.

Autism is a condition involving abnormalities of brain development and behavior which manifests itself before a child is three years old and has a steady course with no remission. It is characterized by impairments in social interaction and communication, as well as restricted and repetitive behavior. It is part of a larger family called the autism spectrum disorders (ASD) or pervasive developmental disorders (PDD), which include closely related syndromes such as Asperger syndrome and PDD-NOS. This article uses autism to denote the classic autistic disorder and ASD to denote the wider family.

Autism’s theory of causation is still incomplete. It has long been presumed that there is a common cause at the genetic, cognitive, and neural levels for autism’s characteristic triad of symptoms. However,here is increasing suspicion among researchers that autism does not have a single cause, but is instead a complex disorder with a set of core aspects that have distinct causes. Although these distinct causes have been hypothesized to often co-occur, it has also been suggested that the correlation between the causes has been exaggerated.The number of people known to have autism has increased dramatically since the 1980s, at least partly due to changes in diagnostic practice; it is unknown whether prevalence has increased as well. An increase in prevalence would suggest directing more attention and funding toward changing environmental factors instead of continuing to focus on genetics.

The consensus among mainstream autism researchers is that genetic factors predominate, but some are concerned, as one anonymous researcher put it, that “geneticists are running the show, and ignoring the environmental aspects.”Environmental factors that have been claimed to contribute to autism or exacerbate its symptoms, or may be important to consider in future research, include certain foods, infectious disease, heavy metals, solvents, diesel exhaust, PCBs, phthalates and phenols used in plastic products, pesticides, brominated flame retardants, alcohol, smoking, illicit drugs, and vaccines. Among these factors, vaccines have attracted much attention, as parents may first become aware of autistic symptoms in their child around the time of a routine vaccination, and parental concern about vaccines has led to a decreasing uptake of childhood immunizations and an increasing likelihood of measles outbreaks. However, as described in Mercury and MMR vaccine below, there is overwhelming scientific evidence showing no causal association between the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and autism, and there is no scientific evidence that the vaccine preservative thiomersal helps cause autism.

In 2007 the National Institutes of Health announced an Autism Centers of Excellence (ACE) research program to find the causes of autism and identify new treatments for the disorder. Initial recipients are focusing on genetic factors, brain imaging, brain chemicals and functions including mirror neurons, effect on early parent-child behavior on autism, and learning in autistic children.
Http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causes_of_autism

I am a mother of a 12 month old boy… Who is up to date on all his vaccines so far. And he will continue to get all his vaccinations. As so will any other children i should have. Im sorry but i wouldnt take the risk of my child actually contracting one of those disease just because some parents believe that it may be linked to autisim. Sorry, i would rather have my child vaccinated.

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Question?: Asperger Syndrome Diagnostic Scale

Daniel asks…

URGENT I would like some further information on Autistic spectrum disorders?

It’s for a friend-her child has 10 hour paddys-Is only good at school,but a nightmare everywhere else-She doesn’t understand what you tell her-She is repetative even if you aggree with her-even when she’s doing something fun she carries on-She uses a lot of baby talk-Hits her Mum,Steals and has told her Mum that she wants to kill herself-She thumps kicks and hits her Mum-Says she hates her Mum and has tried to push the baby’s pram over.
Her Mum has been everywhere for help and has been told that she’s not assertive enough-
Her Mum is assertive and has 2 other children that are fine.
It’s been suggested that it could be on the autistic spectrum but she doesn’t know what this is.
The Mum is having so much trouble getting help and has been trying for 5 years to get someone to listen.
You can’t reason with the child she expects everything to be done for her.My friend can’t even get dressed without her daughter wanting her to do something for her.
The little girl is 7
And is only good at school but bad for everyone else and steals from shops-My friend can’t cope anymore

admin answers:

The detection of learners with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), in their formative years is vital. As a teacher you are an important role player in this essential early detection.

Autistic Spectrum Disorder is not the result of bad parenting and these children do not choose to misbehave.

Autistic Spectrum Disorder is a complex and variable pervasive developmental disability, which stems from a multi-factorial origin and results in disordered brain development and function.

Estimates of prevalence vary greatly. Recent small scale, but intensive studies give higher numbers than earlier ones, this being due to the criteria for autistic disorders having been considerably widened over the years. The highest estimates for the whole spectrum, range from around 40 to around 90 per 10 000 births, but the true figures are still being investigated. ASD affects 4 times as many boys as girls. Of all the developmental disorders, ASD is the most researched and validated syndrome.

The onset of ASD is from birth or before the age of 3 years. Various subgroups are referred to within the autistic spectrum disorders. The ICD 10 system (International Classification of Diseases, 10th edition, World Health Organisation, 1992) and the DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 4th edition, American Psychiatric Association, 1994) suggests some subgroups, the best known of which are “childhood autism / early infantile autism” and “Asperger Syndrome” There is a fair amount of academic argument concerning the criteria differentiating these subgroups. However, in clinical practice, the most helpful approach to diagnosis is to establish if the child concerned, has an autistic spectrum disorder and then to provide information concerning their present level of varying abilities. This type of detail is far more useful for identifying a person’s needs, rather than just putting him or her in a diagnostic subgroup.

As yet the exact causes of ASD are unknown, but intensive research is being implemented on an ongoing basis. With the appropriate intervention, learners on the Autistic Spectrum can be helped to improve their quality of life.

Although learners with ASD present with many different levels of severity and also display a wide range of individual characteristics, they are all affected by the “Triad of Impairments”. This triad is typically associated with a narrow, repetitive pattern of activities and resistance to change in things that directly affect the individual concerned and manifests with an impairment in the quality of development ( see Triad of Impairments)

In addition to this Triad of Impairments, you may well observe the following additional features:-

Little or no eye contact;

No real fear of dangers;

Abnormalities in the development of cognitive skills, e.g. Poor learning skills or resistance to normal teaching methods;

Abnormalities of posture and motor behaviour, e.g. Poor balance;

Poor gross and fine motor skills in some learners;

Odd responses to sensory input, e.g. Covering of ears;

Sense of touch, taste, sight, hearing and/or smell may be heightened or diminished;

Bizarre eating patterns – food fads;

High pain threshold;

Crying or laughing for no apparent reason;

Self-injurious behaviour, e.g. Head banging, scratching, biting;

Abnormal sleep patterns.

Children with ASD usually have accompanying learning difficulties. The range of intellectual abilities amongst children with ASD is vast. The presence of additional disorders such as epilepsy, sensory and intellectual impairments can co-exist with ASD.

Remember that ASD can vary widely and there is no single feature that, if not present, excludes the possibility of Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

Should you think that a child in your class may displaying Autistic Spectrum Disorder, we advise you to discuss this matter with his or her parent.-

For additional information, we have also listed varying International Organisations involved with Autistic Spectrum Disorder:

National Autistic Society – United Kingdom
393 City Road. London EC1V 1NE. England
Tel: 0944 20 7833 2299 Fax: 0944 20 7833 9666
E-mail:
Website: http://www.oneworld.org/autism_uk/

Autism Europe
Avenue E. Van Becelaere 26b. Bte 21. B-1170. Bruxelles. Belgique.
Tel: + 32 2 675 75 05 Fax: + 32 2 675 72 70.
E-mail: autisme.europe@arcadis.be
Website: http://www.autismeurope.arc.be

Autism Society of America
7910 Woodmont Avenue. Suite 650. BETHESDA. MD 20814. USA
Tel: 091 800 328 8476. Fax: 091 301 657 0869
Website: http://www.autism-society.org/

Autism Research Institute
4182 Adams Avenue. SAN DIEGO. CA 92116. USA
Tel: 091 619 281 7165. Fax: 091 619 563 6840.
Web site: http://www.autism.com/ari

Autism Society of North Carolina
This organisation has an extensive list of publications.
505 Oberlin Road, Suite 230. Raleigh. NC 27605-1345. USA.
Tel: 091 919 743 0204. Fax: 091 919 743 0208
Website. Http://www.autismsociety-nc.org

Guidelines for teaching a child with Autistic Spectrum Disorder

If you have a child in your class who has been diagnosed with ASD, there are certain guidelines that may assist you with that child’s individual educational plan.

Essential areas need to be addressed. The teaching methods should focus on the child’s strengths and compensate for their weaknesses. The strengths usually are visual skills and rote learning. The weaknesses are usually the ability to process language and the ability to provide their own structure and organisation.

The two most frequent causes of stress and behavioural difficulties are first lack of a simple, clear, understandable, predictable structure to each day and second, pressure to perform above the child’s level of ability.

Children and adults with ASD, whatever their level of ability, find it hard to comprehend time and space and how they fit into the world. Their impairment of imagination prevents them from building up an inner story about themselves. It is difficult for people who are not familiar with ASD to understand the nature of such problems. For example, some of the more disabled individuals become distressed if taken for a walk away from their familiar environment, because no-one realised the necessity of explaining to them that, at the end of the walk, they will be returning to the place they know.

One important way to help a person with ASD is to provide external structure to make up for the lack of a coherent inner world. They need to know where they are in time and space. They need to be given simple concrete guides to the world, such as picture timetables. They can manage change as long as it is not unexpected and they are carefully prepared in ways that they can understand.

The below list covers strategies that maybe beneficial when teaching a child with ASD:-

Avoid verbal overload, irrespective of the person’s apparent level of language ability;

Use visual cues and prompts;

Prepare the child for changes in routine;

Provide structure, using a visual schedule of daily activities, such as photos, pictograms, representational objects;

Give the child individualised instruction, do not rely on their comprehension of directions which are aimed at the class as a whole;

Minimise visual and auditory distractions;

Be aware that an increase in inappropriate behaviour may be an indicator of stress or frustration;

A child with ASD may take longer to learn new skills and you may feel you are not getting anywhere and that you are wasting your time. Do not give up, please be patient and persevere and you will be rewarded!

Toys and activities which maybe beneficial for the child with ASD.

Children with ASD seem to prefer toys that involve visual/spatial aspects, such as jigsaw puzzles, construction toys, shape and colour matching etc. Computer games may also be very beneficial to a child with ASD.

Children’s videos with a definite visual story, as opposed to reliance on the verbal aspect may be thoroughly enjoyed by children with ASD.

Physical activity is important for the child with ASD, but these activities must not rely on verbal input or the use of imagination. Physical activity has been found to diminish inappropriate behaviours and has the added benefit of improving motor co-ordination. Supervision of a child with ASD in the playground is essential, as the child with ASD often has no real sense of danger.

Recommended Publications:

Lorna Wing;The Autism Spectrum: A guide for Parents and Professionals (Highly recommended). Published by Constable, 1996.

Maureen Aarons and Tessa Gittens;The Handbook of Autism: A Guide for Parents and Professionals. Practical approach, providing easy reading and “digestible” information. Published by Routledge, 1992 (reprinted 1994).

Lorna Wing; Autistic Spectrum Disorders: An Aid to Diagnosis. Gives a good insight into the criteria for diagnosis of autism. Published by The UK National Autistic Society, 1993.

Paul Dickinson and Liz Hannah; It Can Get Better: A Guide For Parents and Carers. A light hearted, practical approach for dealing with common behaviour problems in children with autism. Published by The UK National Autistic Society.

Uta Frith; Autism: explaining the enigma. Published by Oxford: Blackwell, 1989

Maureen Aarons & Tessa Gittens; The autistic continuum: an assessment and intervention schedule for investigating the behaviours, skills and needs of children with autism or autistic spectrum difficulties. Published: Windsor: NFER-Nelson, 1992

Edited by Eric Schopler, Mary Van Bourgondien & Marie Bristol. Preschool issues in autism. Published: New York: Plenum, 1993

Edited by Eric Schopler & Gary Mesibov. Social behaviour in autism. Published: New York, Plenum, 1986

Stuart Powell and Rita Jordan (Eds). Autism and Learning: A Guide to Good Practise. Published: London: David Fulton Publishers Ltd. 1997

R/L Koegel, A. Rincover & A.L Egel. Educating and understanding autistic children. Published: San Diego: College Hill Press, 1982

Tony Attwood. Why does Chris do that? Published: London, NAS, 1993

Eric Schopler & Gary Mesibov. Communication problems in autism. NAS.

Tony Attwood. Asperger’s Syndrome. A Guide for Parents and Professionals. This book covers the topic of Asperger’s Syndrome. Published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 1998.

Lorna Wing; Asperger’s Syndrome: A Clinical Account.This book covers the topic of Asperger’s Syndrome from a more clinical viewpoint.Published by The Journal of Psychological Medicine, 1992.

Uta Frith; Autism and Asperger Syndrome. Published: Cambridge. CUP, 1991

Edited by Eric Schopler & Gary Mesibov. High Functioning individuals with autism. Published: New York. Plenum, 1992

A certain amount of material included in this brochure is chiefly taken from a paper written by Dr Lorna Wing, Consultant at the Centre for Social and Communication Disorders. It has been reproduced with the kind permission of Dr Lorna Wing and the National Autistic Society, United Kingdom, who published this paper in their quarterly magazine, “Communication”, edition Winter 1998.

References:

“Classification and diagnosis – looking at the complexities involved”-Dr Lorna Wing.
“Communication” Winter 1998;The National Autistic Society, England.
The autistic spectrum – a parent’s guide;The National Autistic Society, England.
Autism: Bibliography. A guide to books and videos;The National Autistic Society, England.
The Autism Spectrum. A guide for Parents and Professionals;Dr Lorna Wing.
Developing a Broad and Balanced Curriculum; Mrs Margaret M Golding. Autism The Way Forwards RSA. September 1998.
Autism: How to help your young child; Leicestershire County Council and Fosse Health Trust. ISBN 1 899280 65 0

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Question?: Autism Symptoms In 6 Year Old

Mandy asks…

What are your tips about tutoring an 8 year old with Autism?

He is in the 2nd grade and he can read on the 2nd grade reading level though his reading comprehension is poor. That is what I’ll be working with him on mostly. I will also be working on his handwriting as his small motor skills are not strong. His speech delay puts his communication level at about 4 years old.

I will be working with him 3 times a week.

admin answers:

First be sure you know what it is…

Autism is a brain development disorder characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior. These signs all begin before a child is three years old.[2] The autism spectrum disorders (ASD) also include related conditions with milder signs and symptoms.[3]

Autism has a strong genetic basis, although the genetics of autism are complex and it is unclear whether ASD is explained more by multigene interactions or by rare mutations.[4] In rare cases, autism is strongly associated with agents that cause birth defects.[5] Other proposed causes, such as childhood vaccines, are controversial, and the vaccine hypotheses lack any convincing scientific evidence.[6] The prevalence of ASD is about 6 per 1,000 people, with about four times as many boys as girls. The number of people known to have autism has increased dramatically since the 1980s, partly due to changes in diagnostic practice; the question of whether actual prevalence has increased is unresolved.[7]

Autism affects many parts of the brain; how this occurs is not understood. Parents usually notice signs in the first two years of their child’s life. Although early behavioral or cognitive intervention can help children gain self-care, social, and communication skills, there is no known cure.[3] Few children with autism live independently after reaching adulthood, but some become successful,[8] and an autistic culture has developed, with some seeking a cure and others believing that autism is a condition rather than a disorder.[9]

Second…

Autistic kids often have one particular thing that they are focused on and love. I.E. Cars, or trains, or scooby doo. Figure out what that is and incorporate it into your tutoring. This will help keep their attention.

Third…

Do your research.. There is HUNDEREDS of sights on the internet about working with Autistic children.

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Study Of Brain Development Reveals Brain Stem Cells That May Be Responsible For Higher Functions, Bigger Brains

Main Category: Schizophrenia
Also Included In: Stem Cell Research;  Autism;  Neurology / Neuroscience
Article Date: 11 Aug 2012 – 0:00 PDT Current ratings for:
Study Of Brain Development Reveals Brain Stem Cells That May Be Responsible For Higher Functions, Bigger Brains
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Scientists from The Scripps Research Institute have identified a new stem cell population that may be responsible for giving birth to the neurons responsible for higher thinking. The finding also paves the way for scientists to produce these neurons in culture – a first step in developing better treatments for cognitive disorders, such as schizophrenia and autism, which result from disrupted connections among these brain cells.

Published in the journal Science, the new research reveals how neurons in the uppermost layers of the cerebral cortex form during embryonic brain development.

“The cerebral cortex is the seat of higher brain function, where information gets integrated and where we form memories and consciousness,” said the study’s senior author Ulrich Mueller, a professor and director of the Dorris Neuroscience Center at Scripps Research. “If we want to understand who we are, we need to understand this area where everything comes together and forms our impression of the world.”

In the new study, Mueller’s team identified a neural stem cell in mice that specifically gives rise to the neurons that make up the upper layers of the cerebral cortex. Previously, it was thought that all cortical neurons – those making up both the lower and upper layers – came from the same type of stem cell, called a radial glial cell, or RGC. A neuron’s fate was thought to be determined by the timing of its birth date. The Scripps Research team, however, showed that there is a distinct stem cell progenitor that gives rise to upper layer neurons, regardless of birth date or place.

“Advanced functions like consciousness, thought, and creativity require a lot of different neuronal cell types and a central question has been how all this diversity is produced in the cortex,” said Santos Franco, a senior research associate in Mueller’s laboratory and first author of the paper. “Our study shows this diversity already exists in the progenitor cells.”

Peeling Back the Onion Layers

In mammals, the cortex is made up of six distinct anatomic layers holding different types of excitatory neurons. They are not the uniform layers of a cake, but rather, they are more like the layers wrapped around an onion. The smaller lower layers, on the inside, host neurons that connect to the brain stem and spinal cord to help regulate essential functions such as breathing and movement. The larger upper layers, closer to the outer surface of the brain, contain neurons that integrate information coming in from the senses and connect across the two halves of the brain.

The upper layers are a “relatively young invention,” evolutionarily speaking, having been greatly expanded during primate evolution, said Mueller. They give humans in particular the unique abilities to think abstractly, plan for the future and problem-solve.

For the last two decades, scientists have believed that the fate of cerebral cortex neurons was determined by their birth date because each layer is formed in a time-dependent manner. The lower layer neurons form in the center of the “ball” first, and then the cells that will become the upper layers form last, migrating through the lower layers.

“So the model was that there is a stem cell in the center of the ball that generates the different types of neurons in successive waves,” said Mueller. “What we now show is that there are at least two different populations of RGCs and potentially more.”

Following Fate

Franco first created a line of mice in which he could track upper-layer neurons as they were born and migrated. The team followed a marker gene called Cux2, which was previously reported to be expressed only by upper-layer neurons. By linking a gene for an enzyme called Cre to the Cux2 gene, the scientists could watch any cell expressing Cux2 under the microscope, because the Cre enzyme flips on another gene that glows fluorescent red.

Surprisingly, the team observed Cux2 already turned on in some of the RGCs, even at the earliest points in brain development – embryonic day nine or ten – before any upper-layer neurons exist. Following this population of glowing stem cells through development, the team showed that the cells almost exclusively generated upper-layer neurons. In contrast, the subgroup of RGCs not expressing Cux2 became lower-layer neurons.

Next, the team removed these Cux2-positive precursor cells from their niche in the embryonic brain to see how they would develop in a lab dish. When they cultured both types of RGCs, again only Cux2-expressing RGCs developed into upper-layer neurons.

In developing brains, these Cux2-positive stem cells first self-renew and proliferate before differentiating later into neurons. So, the team wanted to know if a neuron’s birth date determined its fate. To test this, the researchers delivered a TCF4 molecule in utero that forced the Cux2-positive RGCs to prematurely differentiate. Even though it was too early in normal development, the Cux2-positive RGCs still produced upper-layer neurons.

In other words, regardless of position or timing, the Cux2-positive RGCs are destined to become upper-layer neurons. Mueller and colleagues concluded that these stem cells have some intrinsic property that determines their fate from the start.

The work also shows that this RGC subset is responsible for the huge proliferation of cells necessary to create the larger upper-layer cortex found in primate brains. “If we want to understand how the human brain evolved, how we are different from an amphibian, then this one precursor cell may have been important,” said Mueller.

But, bigger brains came with a risk, making humans more prone to disorders when upper-layer neurons don’t form connections properly. Up until now, researchers trying to reproduce human cortical neurons in the lab from stem cells have only generated lower-layer-type neurons. “This opens a door now to try to make the upper-layer neurons, which are frequently affected in psychiatric disorders,” said Mueller.

Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release. Click ‘references’ tab above for source.
Visit our schizophrenia section for the latest news on this subject. In addition to Mueller and Franco, authors of the paper, “Fate-restricted neural progenitors in the mammalian cerebral cortex,” were Cristina Gil-Sanz, Isabel Martinez-Garay, Ana Espinosa, Sarah R. Harkins-Perry, and Cynthia Ramos of Scripps Research. Martinez-Garay is now at the University of Oxford.
This research was supported by the Dorris Neuroscience Center, US National Institutes of Health (grant award numbers NS060355, NS046456, MH078833), and California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and conducted in affiliation with the NIH Blueprint-funded Cre Driver Network.
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Symptoms of High-Functioning Autism

My first recollection of autism is connected to watching the ‘Rainman’ movie and thinking about what happened to that brilliant child on the screen. On one hand, so talented on the other so restricted. My next close encounter with the disorder took place when my daughter became a teacher for disabled kids ages seven through ten. I still remember that night when she came back home from school, I looked at her face and knew something tragic must have happen. She shared with me her experience with one of her students diagnosed with autism. Now she brings home the knowledge and awareness that I would not have otherwise. As with all critical occurrences, there is no one single description of the disorder or the cure of it.

Autism is in fact the core condition of a spectrum of disorders, which all share common characteristics and are demonstrated in very diverse ways within each individual.

Autism is a major disability, affecting communication and interaction with other people, but also with the world.

The degree of autism varies from severe to mild, but the consequence is always serious. Accordingly, someone with autism may have severe autism with severe additional learning difficulties, while others may have mild degrees of autism with normal or high levels of intelligence. The majority of those affected by autism have learning disabilities. Their language development varies greatly. Some may have very good speech, although lacking full comprehension, while a significant portion of those with autism will have no spoken language. Many may be hypersensitive to noise, light, touch or smell, and under-react to pain.

The particular causes of autism are not known; we do know however that it is a biologically based disorder affecting the brain development. The patterns of disorderly behavior do not emerge until the child is between 18 months and 3 years old. At times there is a period of seemingly normal development and then, between 18 months and 3 years, the child gives the impression to withdraw and lose skills. We do know that parents are not to blame for autism, but, actually, are the child’s greatest resource.

As for the common signs of autism – those are social, communication and behavior. Autism is displayed in social settings, verbal communication, nonverbal communication, development of imagination and resistance to change of a routine.

Here are examples of such behaviors. Affected kid shows indifference; he or she joins activities with others only if adult insists and assists. The interactions in social settings are one sided. He or she indicates need by using an adult’s hand, does not play with other children, talks consistently only about one topic, displays bizarre behavior. Very common is echolalia, when the child copies words. Laughing or giggling comes up in the most inappropriate times. There is no eye contact, variety is not spice of life, and there is lack of creative (pretend) play.

Some of the affected kids can do some things very well and very quickly, but those never involve social interaction. Early diagnosis of such condition is crucial in order to minimize the problems and maximize the full potential of the person.

I cannot tell if the explosion of autism since 1980 has been triggered by our ability to diagnose or by the actual changes in the fetus and baby development caused by the overdose of chemicals. I know though, that we managed to register 77,000 artificial food additives since 1940 and that an average American consumes 14 pounds of chemicals with their food per year. The results of these statistics cannot be ignored by our bodies. Simple reality check: if you would not put something into your fish tank, don’t stick it in your body.

Maybe it will not happen to eliminate autism, but it will definitely help our health and the world.

In the mean time I would like to invite you to gain more information about the early detection of the disorder and ways to gain control of the situation.

Be am amazed with the value of experience that comes from a simple heart to heart conversation. Yes, when the words are missing, hearts talk. Breathe in the magnificence of life and breathe out the passion for love so others can be poisoned with it. http://lifelonghomebiz.com/

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