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Recent Research on Autism Spectrum Disorders

Many recent research studies have focused on finding the earliest signs of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). These studies aim to help pediatricians diagnose kids at a younger age so they can get needed interventions as quickly as possible. 

One early sign of an Autism Spectrum Disorder may be increased head size or rapid head growth. Brain imaging studies have shown that abnormal brain development beginning in the child’s first months may have a role in Autism Spectrum Disorders. This theory proposes that genetic defects in growth factors (which direct proper brain development) cause the brain abnormalities seen in ASD. It's possible that the child’s sudden, rapid head growth may be an early warning signal, and this can help in early diagnosis and treatment or possible prevention of Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Current studies on Autism Spectrum Disorder treatment are exploring many approaches, such as:
  • New social interventions that can be used in the classroom or other everyday settings
  • An intervention moms and dads can follow to reduce and prevent Autism-related disability in kids at high risk for the disorder
  • A medication that may help improve functioning in kids with Fragile X syndrome
  • A computer-based training program designed to teach kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders how to create and respond to facial expressions appropriately

For more information about clinical trials on Autism Spectrum Disorders, see “Featured Studies” below.

The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee is a Federal advisory committee that coordinates all efforts within the Department of Health and Human Services concerning Autism Spectrum Disorders. Through its inclusion of both Federal and public members, the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee helps to ensure that a wide range of ideas and perspectives are represented and discussed in a public forum.

The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee mission is to:
  • Facilitate the exchange of information on and coordination of Autism Spectrum Disorder activities among the member agencies and organizations
  • Increase public understanding of the member agencies' activities, programs, policies, and research by providing a public forum for discussions related to Autism Spectrum Disorder research and services
  • Provide advice to the Secretary of Health and Human Services regarding Federal activities related to Autism Spectrum Disorders

Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee meetings are open to the public and include presentations and discussions on a variety of topics (e.g., activities and projects of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, recent advances in science and autism policy issues).

Featured Studies—

These studies include only those currently recruiting participants:

  1. A Study of the Association Between Autism and Immune Changes in the Brain.
    Evaluation study. Background: - People with autism and autism spectrum disorders have problems with communication, behavior, and socializing, and many also have intellectual and developmental disabilities. Ages 18-45. Location in Bethesda, MD.
  2. Assessing Suicide Risk in Adolescents With Developmental Delays.
    Evaluation study. Background: - Currently, there is no standard method to study suicide risk in youth with developmental delays or intellectual disabilities (DD/ID). Ages 12-21. Location in Toronto, Canada.
  3. Brain Imaging Study of Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorders.
    Interventional study. This research study investigates the effects of oxytocin and vasopressin on brain activity in adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Ages 18-40. Location in Bethesda, MD.
  4. Clinical and Immunological Investigations of Subtypes of Autism.
    Evaluation study. The purpose of this study is to learn more about autism and its subtypes. Ages 1 year-6. Location in Bethesda, MD.
  5. Cognitive Neuroscience of Autism Spectrum Disorders.
    Evaluation study. Background: - Autism spectrum disorders (Autism Spectrum Disorders) are a group of developmental disorders that affect communication, social interaction, and behavior. Ages 5-89. Location in Bethesda, MD.
  6. Comparing Parent-Implemented Interventions for Toddlers With Autism Spectrum Disorders.
    Interventional study. This study will compare the effectiveness of two parent-based programs for helping young kids at risk of autism. Ages 16 months-20 months. Locations in Tallahassee, FL; Ann Arbor, MI.
  7. Effectiveness of Atomoxetine in Treating ADHD Symptoms in Children and Adolescents With Autism.
    Interventional study. This study will evaluate the effectiveness of atomoxetine in treating kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms associated with autistic disorder, Asperger's syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified. Ages 5-15. Location in Indianapolis, IN.
  8. Evaluating the Effectiveness of Aripiprazole and D-Cycloserine to Treat Symptoms Associated With Autism.
    Interventional study. This study will determine the effectiveness of aripiprazole and D-Cycloserine in treating symptoms associated with autism in kids. Ages 5-17. Location in Indianapolis, IN.
  9. Identification of Characteristics Associated With Symptom Remission in Autism.
    Evaluation study. Autism is defined as a lifelong pervasive developmental disability, as such, symptom recovery is considered rare. Ages 7-17. Location in Bethesda, MD.
  10. Long-Term Olanzapine Treatment in Children With Autism.
    Interventional study. This study will determine the short- and long-term safety and effectiveness of the drug olanzapine (Zyprexa®) for reducing symptoms of autism in kids. Ages 3-12. Location in Philadelphia, PA.
  11. Methylphenidate for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Autism in Children.
    Interventional study. This study will first examine the cognitive and behavioral differences in kids who have an autism spectrum disorder (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and who do and do not have additional symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Ages 7-12. Location in Houston, TX.
  12. Screening for Studies on Autism Spectrum Disorders.
    Evaluation study. This study will screen kids and adolescents (and their parents) to determine the youngster's eligibility for participation in NIMH research studies on autism spectrum disorders, such as autism and Rett's Disorder. Ages up to 20. Location in Bethesda, MD.
  13. Study of Toddlers With Language Delay.
    Evaluation study. The purpose of this study is to learn more about risk factors for autism by studying the behavior and brain functioning of toddlers with early communication delays and typically developing toddlers. Ages 10 months-20 months. Location in Bethesda, MD.

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My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Children on the Spectrum

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

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Parenting Defiant Teens on the Spectrum

Although Aspergers [high-functioning autism] is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager on the spectrum are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

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Older Teens and Young Adult Children with ASD Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with ASD face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

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Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

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to read the full article...

Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

Click here for the full article...