November Digest 2 of 2

The most relevant news of the last couple weeks. Sign-up to have future issues delivered to your email.


National News

Autism’s Gut-Brain Connection
National Geographic – Stress can send your stomach into a painful tailspin, causing cramps, spasms and grumbling. But trouble in the gut can also affect the brain. This two-way relationship may be an unlikely key to solving one of medicine’s most pressing—and perplexing—mysteries: autism.

Pope Francis Holds Mass for Families Affected by Autism
Autism Speaks – The Vatican’s first-ever conference on autism, “The Person with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Animating Hope,” was held on Nov. 21 – 22. Organizers told the Associated Press the event is the biggest medical conference of its kind on autism, gathering more than 650 experts from 57 countries.

San Diego Woman Recognized For Program Teaching Autistic Children How To Swim
PBS – Drowning is among the leading causes of death for autistic children. According to the National Autism Association wandering and fascination with water are contributing factors.



Autism-linked genetic region affects size of brain structures
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative – Deletion or duplication of 7q11.23, a chromosomal region linked to Williams syndrome and autism, alters the size of several brain structures, according to unpublished data presented today at the 2014 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

Fragile X study offers hope of new autism treatment
Science Daily – People affected by a common inherited form of autism could be helped by a drug that is being tested as a treatment for cancer, according to researchers from the University of Edinburgh and McGill University. Fragile X Syndrome is the most common genetic cause of autism spectrum disorders.

Different autism subtypes share same genetic signature
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative – A rare form of autism linked to a duplication of the 15q11-13 chromosomal region shares a molecular signature with more common forms of the disorder. Researchers presented the unpublished results yesterday at the 2014 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

Therapy for autism may alter brain activity, behavior
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative – After four months of a behavioral therapy known as pivotal response training (PRT), six children with autism show improved behavior and enhanced activity in brain regions that process social information.



Entrepreneur-Scientist Develops Google Glass Program For Kids With Autism
CBS – CAMBRIDGE (CBS) – For the estimated one in 68 American children now born with disorders on the autism spectrum, technology could be a powerful tool. And, if Cambridge-based entrepreneur-scientist Ned Sahin has his way, kids will be able to harness the intuitive power of Google Glass to navigate the world in a way that makes sense.



Are NOLA Schools Failing Students With Disabilities?
NPR – In New Orleans, schools have long struggled to provide for students with physical, emotional and mental disabilities. Even before Hurricane Katrina, many parents had to fight for extra help. But many say things have only gotten harder since the city’s public school district shifted almost entirely to charter schools.


Teens & Adults

Virtual Reality Training Improves Social Skills and Brain Activity
Autism Speaks – Autism Speaks Meixner fellow working with young adults who have autism to improve effectiveness of virtual-reality training program. Twice a week, each of the young adults in Daniel Yang’s study spends an hour inside a virtual world.

The Medical Minute: Services for adults with autism ‘a pressing priority
Penn State – In the early 1990s, autism awareness kicked into high gear, and Pennsylvania responded by developing programs and services to meet the needs of newly diagnosed children. Now, those children have become young adults, and the medical community faces its next challenge — how to serve adults with autism.