September Digest, Part 1 of 2

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


National News

Federal Officials Order Medicaid to Cover Autism Services
Kaiser Health News – In July, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced that comprehensive autism services must be covered for children under all state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program plans, another federal-state program that provide health coverage to lower-income children.


Economic Study Confirms Growth in Autism
Science Daily – The number of autism cases has soared over the past three decades, leading some to wonder if mental health professionals might be over diagnosing the disorder. Two economists who used market theory to study the trend in autism growth, however, have confirmed that at least part of the increase is real.



Roots of Language Troubles, Autism Traits May Diverge
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative – The core symptoms of autism are impaired social and communication abilities, and repetitive and restricted behaviors and interests. Until 2013, the diagnostic criteria for autism included a third category: language problems. In support of this, a few studies have identified genetic variants that link language impairments to autism.

Early Cerebellum Injury Hinders Neural Development, Possible Root of Autism, Theory Suggests
News at Princeton – A brain region largely known for coordinating motor control has a largely overlooked role in childhood development that could reveal information crucial to understanding the onset of autism, according to Princeton University researchers.

Brains of Children with Autism Teem with Surplus Synapses
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative – The brains of children with autism do not prune unneeded connections between neurons as they age, leaving them with too many of these neuronal links, according to a study published 21 August in Neuron1.

Small Study Shows Promise for Parent-led Autism Intervention for Babies (video)
NBC – In a small pilot study, parents learned and delivered a treatment that significantly reduced autism symptoms in babies who had shown warning signs for the disorder.



Kids With Autism See Big Gains With Tablets
Disability Scoop – Even with intervention, many children with autism continue to struggle with communication, but new research suggests that using iPads and other tablets can help maximize language skills. Read full story



Inclusion Rates for Special Education Students Vary By State
Disability Scoop – Where a child lives may significantly impact whether they are placed in an inclusive or segregated classroom, a new national analysis suggests. Regional differences appear to play a role in education placements for students with autism, with those living in the West more likely to attend mainstream classes while students in the Eastern United States are more frequently assigned to segregated settings, according to findings published online in the journal Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities.


Teens & Adults

Growing Solutions Farm Gives Autistic Adults a Chance to Grow
Chicago Tribune – On a 1.2-acre plot of land on the Near West Side, young adults with autism are getting invaluable lessons — lessons that may soon be replicated around the country. Growing Solutions Farm teaches the 20 or so students, ages 18 to 26, all aspects of farming, from planting and harvesting vegetables and herbs to cooking what they grow. But it’s much more than that.

How Running Changed Life for a Boy with Autism
NBC News – Mike Brannigan is obsessed with running. The repetitive motion. The rhythm he finds. The way he can focus on his body and nothing else. At 17, Mike Brannigan is one of the top 10 high school runners in the whole country. He’s so lightning fast he can run a mile in four minutes and seven seconds flat. His coach says he is the hardest working athlete he’s ever trained. He also happens to have autism.