Category Archives: News

Study: Does the Immune System Have a Role in Battling Autism?

New study finds mice may need infection-fighting molecules to socialize.

Molecules that protect the body from infection may be needed for mice to socialize with their peers, according to a study published today in Nature. This double duty could help safeguard the health of animals that live in close quarters.

The findings bolster an emerging link between the immune system and conditions such as autism, says lead researcher Jonathan Kipnis, professor of neuroscience at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. “Whether we like it or not, there is a piling up of evidence that the immune system has a major impact on brain function: The brain is not isolated from the rest of the body,” he says.

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How do People with Autism Experience Empathy?

I decided to write about this as a result of an article I posted on SNJ’s social media a while back about autism and empathy. It had such a great response from all our readers that it’s clearly an emotive subject.

Many people posted about how their own children or themselves experience the feeling of others. One comment was, “You can’t taste the food if you don’t open the wrapper,” and another parent commented (about their child), “If he sees suffering of others on TV he gets really upset and even sends his pocket money in appeals to help others.”

There is a lot of information on the web about whether people with a diagnosis of autism experience empathy. Although I haven’t read them all in depth (I would be there forever), I have looked through many of the articles, the summaries and conclusions of some peer-reviewed articles as well as some of the blog/information-type posts.

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Autism Behavioral Therapy: Still The Best Method To Help Reduce Autism In Children Today

A child with Autism syndrome is one of the most challenging obstacle any parent can have. Seeing your child acting differently is something you can barely see. How you wish, you can put a stop to it , however it is a sad fact that even with all the upgrades in technology, the fact remains that there’s still no permanent cure for autism in children. However, the most common type of treatment is the behavioral and speech therapy, yet for every autistic child, treatment is not all the same and it depends upon the gravity of the situation.

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Study: Insurance Mandates Lead to More Children Diagnosed and Treated for ASD

While a positive outcome, researchers believe this increase represents only a fraction of the children in the United States living with autism spectrum disorder.

PHILADELPHIA –State mandates requiring commercial health plans to cover the cost of services for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have resulted in an increased number of children being diagnosed and treated for ASD, according to new research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The findings will be published in the July 11th issue of JAMA Pediatrics.

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Why Empowering Students with Autism Pays Dividends for Tech Companies

People on the autistic spectrum offer genuine benefits to the workforce that tech companies are picking up on.

We know that career opportunities for people with autism are limited. As Helen Dyer from CASPA told me, some 85% of people with autism are not in full-time employment. The reasons for this aren’t hard to understand from a societal perspective: the way we hire people has a comical overreliance on one-one-one rapport and social cues – something that people with autism typically struggle with, to varying degrees of severity. The path to employment relies less on being able to perform a job well and more on being able to banter about doing a job well. In that respect, people on the autistic spectrum are at a natural disadvantage before they even enter the interview room.

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Autistic Workers Make Good Employees

I’ve noticed a recent trend at businesses including Schnucks and Trader Joe’s — their transparency and pride in hiring autistic employees. The fact more companies are striving to have an increasingly diverse and inclusive workforce makes me smile. Hiring individuals with autism is just another indicator of how we are progressing as a society, recognizing all individuals have a place to contribute and add value.

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Autism-Friendly Shopping Hour

In Manchester, U.K, a superstore staged its first ever ‘quiet hour’ to help autistic and disabled shoppers this weekend… and now EIGHT other shops at Manchester Fort are set to do the same.

Simon Lea, manager of the Asda Living store at the Cheetham Hill complex, came up with the idea to helping people who felt intimidated or stressed by noise and disturbance.  And his idea for a super-quiet shopping environment struck a chord with thousands of people around the country with autism or other conditions and their families.

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The Power of Social Groups

In Columbia, South Carolina two teenaged boys are locked in a game of chess, while another pair plays with Lego Bionicle action figures and Game Boy video games. One boy puts together a floor-sized puzzle. Another is blissfully occupied by his iPad.

Meanwhile, their mothers sit nearby around a sofa and chairs, bonding over shared experiences and leaving their kids to be themselves.  The moms, for a while, don’t have to worry whether their autistic children are following the rules of the “typical world.” They don’t have to worry that anyone will look with misunderstanding or judgment toward their kids’ behavior or their own parenting.

Boy With Autism Sees Snow White

Many families come home with cute photos and fond memories after a Disney vacation, but for one family from North Carolina, it was a much more profound experience.

While on a family trip to Walt Disney World in November, concerned mom Amanda Coley kept a close eye on her son, Jackson, who was diagnosed with autism weeks later.  “He pretty much ignored [all of the characters],” the North Carolina mother told CBS News. “He wasn’t super fearful or nervous; he just didn’t have any interest.”

But when “Jack Jack” caught a glimpse of a warm Snow White, his attitude changed. The non-verbal toddler who’s known to shy away from strangers was suddenly all smiles.

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On the Brink of Breakthroughs in Diagnosing and Treating Autism

There’s a popular saying in the autism community: “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” Although this phrase is meant to convey the remarkable variation in abilities and disabilities among people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), we’re learning that it also applies to the extraordinary variability in how ASD develops. When I first began doing research on autism decades ago, we thought of it as one condition and aimed to discover its “cause.” Now we know ASD is actually a group of lifelong conditions that can arise from a complex combination of multiple genetic and environmental factors.

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