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Autism

Rutgers Neuroscientist Finds a Way to Track and Measure Female Autism, Asperger’s

Dr. Elizabeth Torres

New Brunswick, NJ, September 13, 2017 — A Rutgers University study found that tracking and measuring the involuntary head movements revealed in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans offers a new, more accurate way to detect autism in girls.

Rutgers University-New Brunswick neuroscientist Elizabeth Torres, Ph.D., said the traditional criteria used to diagnose autism are largely based on the observed behavior of children, and since boys in western society are expected to be active, deviations from that norm are easy to spot.

Girls are socialized to be quieter, so autism is harder to observe. Perhaps partly due to these cultural biases, boys are diagnosed with autism five times as often as girls. “The criteria are male-driven, so we’re measuring females with a male ruler,” she said. Continue reading

Vaccine Skeptic Robert Kennedy Jr. Says Trump Asked Him to Lead ‘Vaccine Safety’ Commission

robert-f-kennedy-jr-blackWashington, DC, January 11, 2017The Washington Post reports that Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a proponent of a widely discredited theory that vaccines cause autism, said Tuesday that President-elect Donald Trump asked him to chair a new commission on vaccines.

Despite what Mr. Kennedy contends, vaccines do not cause autism.

So say the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, along with dozens of studies published in prestigious, peer-reviewed journals.

The scientific consensus on vaccines and autism is thorough and solid: There is no evidence of a connection. Continue reading

Rutgers Research Finds Neuromotor Problems at the Core of Autism

Elizabeth Torres

Elizabeth Torres

New Brunswick, NJ, December 14, 2016 — Ken Branson reports in Rutgers Today that Rutgers neuroscientists have established that problems controlling bodily movements are at the core of autism spectrum disorders and that the use of psychotropic medications to treat autism in children often makes such neuromotor problems worse.

The findings, published recently in Nature Scientific Reports, are contrary to the conventional medical understanding of autism – that it is a mental illness and that neuromotor problems, while often occurring at the same time as autism, are not at its biological core. Continue reading

Christie Administration Announces $3.2 Million in Grants for Autism Medical Homes, Expansion of Autism Research

NJ Health Commissioner Cathleen Bennett

NJ Health Commissioner Cathleen Bennett

Trenton, NJ, November 10, 2016 — New Jersey Health Commissioner Cathleen Bennett today announced $3.2 million in grant funds for Autism Health Needs Medical Homes and advanced research in the understanding, evaluation and treatment of autism.

The funding went to medical schools, universities and hospitals.

“These grants enhance the state’s commitment to find new and innovative ways to help New Jersey families affected by autism,” Commissioner Bennett said. Continue reading

CDC Estimates 1 in 68 School-Aged Children Have Autism; No Change from Previous Estimate

Autism kid handsAtlanta, GA, April 4, 2016 ― An estimated 1 in 68 (14.6 per 1,000) school-aged children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to a CDC report published last week in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) Surveillance Summary.

This report shows essentially no change in ASD prevalence, the proportion of school aged-children with ASD, from the previous report released in 2014.

However, it is too soon to know whether ASD prevalence in the United States might be starting to stabilize.  CDC will continue tracking ASD prevalence to better understand changes over time. Continue reading

With Goal of Testing Therapies, Monkeys Engineered to Mimic Autism-Like Behaviors

New York, NY, January 26, 2016The New York Times reports that scientists in China have genetically engineered monkeys so that they exhibit behaviors similar to autism, with a goal of testing potential therapies on the animals in hopes that their resemblance to humans will yield more answers about the disorder.

The scientists found that the monkeys showed “very similar behaviors related to human autism patients, including repetitive behaviors, increased anxiety and, most importantly, defects in social interactions,” said Zilong Qiu, a leader of the research at the Institute of Neuroscience at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai. Continue reading

New Report: U.S. Autism Cases Appear to Have Increased in 2014

Autism kid handsWashington, DC, January 10, 2015 ― Ariana Eunjung Cha reports in The Washington Post that the number of autism cases in the United States appeared to jump dramatically in 2014 according to new estimates released on November 13.

However, researchers said that changes in the format of the questionnaire likely affected the numbers.

The report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention and National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) shows that the prevalence of autism in children ages 3 to 17 went up about 80 percent from 2011-2013 to 2014. Continue reading

New Federal Report: U.S. Autism Cases Appear to Have Increased in 2014

Autism kid handsWashington, DC, November 16, 2015 ― Ariana Eunjung Cha reports in The Washington Post that the number of autism cases in the United States appeared to jump dramatically in 2014 according to new estimates released November 13.

However, researchers said that changes in the format of the questionnaire likely affected the numbers.

The report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention and National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) shows that the prevalence of autism in children ages 3 to 17 went up about 80 percent from 2011-2013 to 2014. Continue reading

Rutgers Announces Initiative to Launch Center to Support Adults with Autism

 Rutgers 250 AnniversaryNew Brunswick, NJ, November 9, 2015 ― Rutgers is launching an initiative to establish a center that will provide adults with autism a unique opportunity to live and work independently within a university setting.

The Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services (RCAAS), to be located in two buildings on the university’s Douglass Campus in New Brunswick, will offer up to 60 adults with autism, who are living off campus, with university jobs supported by clinical staff and graduate students.

A second phase of the center will offer a pilot residential program for 20 adults with autism who will work on campus and live alongside Rutgers graduate students in an integrated apartment-style residence. Continue reading

Event: NJ Center of Excellence Autism Summit to Showcase Research on September 18

Trenton, NJ, September 16, 2015 ― To spark dialogue and provoke thought on the newest ideas and hopes in autism research, the New Jersey Center of Excellence (NJ ACE) Coordinating Center at Montclair State University will host the NJACE Statewide Autism Summit on September 18.

The conference, “The Unfolding Story of Autism Research in NJ from Cells to Society,” will unite families, providers, educators, researchers and policymakers to discuss breakthroughs in research that shape future understanding of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Continue reading