Introducing a modern approach to autism news and resources
Updated: September 19, 2022 · 4 Minute Read
- We’re excited to introduce Family Matters, a newsletter covering the autism space and the best resources to support what matters most: your family.
This issue was originally sent to our subscribers on January 19, 2022. Sign up for our newsletters here!
There’s been some controversy over a new label.
The Lancet Commission (a group of 32 researchers, clinicians, and health system leaders) puts pressure on creating a new category: profound autism. The Commission believes this change would push the clinical and research communities to prioritize the most vulnerable and underserved group — those who require 24/7 supervision. Many researchers and advocates welcome this push while others find that it is as controversial as the “low functioning” autism label.
Autism diagnoses are increasing, most likely a result of improved services and more public awareness.
New data shows 1 in 44 children are diagnosed with autism. The last study in 2020 reported 1 in 54 children were on the spectrum. Experts say the rise is likely due to the improvements in identification, diagnosis, and referrals to services.
It’s now easier to find more inclusive and user-friendly games.
XBOX introduces accessibility feature tags. The added search features include Narrated Game Menus, Subtitle Options (larger font!), Full Keyboard Support, and Single Stick Gameplay. There are 20 new tags and more in development.
Signs of autism probably won’t decrease with age.
Though autistic traits start showing up in childhood, a significant number of people aren’t diagnosed until adulthood. 69% of males and 61% of females received their first diagnoses as adults according to a new study from Denmark. Though generally accepted that signs of autism decrease with age, it’s possible that autistic people might have masked certain traits, developed traits, or have a different condition similar to autism. As a follow up, this research team will be comparing people who were diagnosed as children to those who were diagnosed as adults to see if there are any differences.
Rødgaard, EM., Jensen, K., Miskowiak, K.W. et al. Childhood diagnoses in individuals identified as autistics in adulthood. Molecular Autism 12, 73 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13229-021-00478-y
It’s time to reimagine how we teach some children to talk.
Researchers at UC San Francisco have discovered that the part of the brain that regulates tempo also controls vocalization with breathing. This will help scientists understand how people speak and why some have trouble doing it. “A child may be hearing and learning language, but if the system that allows them to vocalize is different in some way, they just may not be able to coordinate the breath and movements to make the sounds,” said Yackle, MD, PhD, a senior author of the study. “If we know how that system is different, it might change how we’d teach some people to speak.” Full interview can be found on Science Daily.
Xin Paul Wei, Matthew Collie, Bowen Dempsey, Gilles Fortin, Kevin Yackle. A novel reticular node in the brainstem synchronizes neonatal mouse crying with breathing. Neuron, 2022; DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2021.12.014
What you need to know…
You can review your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) any time during the year. Many parents think they can only meet with their IEP team or change their IEP once per year. This is completely untrue — an IEP can be reviewed and modified as many times as you want during the year. For more personalized tips, review your roadmap!
What’s on our mind…
The Autistic Brain. We’re reconsidering the concept of normality. Written by Dr. Temple Grandin, an autistic woman, and Richard Panek, a popular science writer, The Autistic Brain explores the many differences and similarities between the neurodiverse and people who don’t have autism. Here are some highlights:
Autistic brains look different. Grandin’s MRI showed that her cerebellum was smaller than average, resulting in weak coordination. She also had an increased amygdala which is responsible for managing emotions and fears, resulting in Grandin’s acute anxiety.
The brain is highly adaptive. Constant practice of certain skills can lead to changes in the brain’s size. Breaking habits and reinforcing new ones are possible, but it’s important to focus on doing what you love!
Focus on your strengths. Grandin understands that her brain isn’t tuned for doing certain things. And her advice is a wonderful reminder for both parent and child: “Search for your talent and practice in the sphere where your natural abilities fit the most. It will make you happy.”
Did you know that…
Nearly 50,000 autistic individuals graduate from high school every year, but only 16,000 of those students go on to pursue a college education.
We’ve partnered with bold.org to support students on the autism spectrum. Learn more about the scholarship here!
Cox, B. E., Thompson, K., Anderson, A., Mintz, A., Locks, T. Morgan, L., Edelstein, J., & Wolz, A. (2017). College experiences for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Personal identity, public disclosure, and institutional support. Journal of College Student Development, 58(1), 71–87.
On the bright side…
Here’s the sweetest sound in the world.
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