News & Events

April 30, 2020

Considering the Biology of Suicide in Autism

In our last SafeMinds Shares, we highlighted a review of the psychiatric conditions that frequently co-occur with an autism diagnosis. One of these conditions is suicidal thoughts and behaviors. The James Kirk Bernard Foundation, founded by parents with an autistic son and a typical son who died from suicide, has written an extensive overview of the commonalities between autism and suicide biology and life situations, which may explain why people with autism are a high-risk group for suicidal thoughts and behaviors. With April 30 marking the last day of Autism Awareness Month and May 1 the start of Mental Health Awareness Month, SafeMinds Shares brings this important topic to our readers.

April 30, 2020

Infants’ Screen Time, Less Play with Parents Linked to Higher Risk of Autism-Like Symptoms

According to a new study which has received criticism from some scientists and advocates, 12-month-old babies who spend time viewing images on a smartphone, tablet or television, are more likely to exhibit symptoms of autism by age 2. On the other hand, 12-month-old babies who spend part of their day playing with their parents have decreased odds of developing symptoms of autism by age 2. These new findings were released by Drexel University’s School of Medicine and Dornsife School of Public Health. The study was published online April 20 in JAMA Pediatrics.

April 30, 2020

Improvement from 6 Month Probiotic/Prebiotic Treatment for Autism

A new study [1] confirms differences in gut microbiome composition between autistic children and typically developing children, and has reported improvement in autism symptomatology with a probiotic/prebiotic treatment. Improvements were seen in gut microbiome diversity, metabolites and function, as well as autism behaviors and neurotransmitters.

April 30, 2020

Pets May Help Autism Families Alleviate Stress

New research out of the University of Missouri has discovered that pet ownership can be a positive experience for families with a member on the autism spectrum. Researchers from the university surveyed 764 families using the Interactive Autism Network about the benefits and burdens of pet ownership. Data extracted from the survey showed that the added responsibility of caring for a pet was well worth the effort. Children in homes with dog(s) and/or cat(s) were able to form bonds with their pet(s) which, in turn, provided the child with more comfort and less stress.

April 20, 2020

COVID-19 Shuts Down Portions of Important Autism Research

Scientists Adapt to Changes in the Workplace: In mid-March, Spectrum Autism Research News alerted the autism community to a troubling new problem with potentially long-term consequences. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists across the nation began to scramble figuring out ways to either continue or alter their research projects as colleges and universities were shutting down, sending their students home in order to transition to remote learning. These actions, intended to slow the spread of COVID-19, established situations where autism research was either halted or hindered, setting back promising projects including clinical trials.

April 10, 2020

Is Disclosing an Autism Diagnosis a Good Idea? There’s No Clear Answer

Results are mixed when it comes to disclosing a child’s autism diagnosis to other people. Generally, being transparent about the disorder is considered a good idea. However as a researcher at the University of Alberta (U of A) has found, it doesn’t always point to better inclusion or reduced bullying. Unfortunately, in some instances, the admission can lead to reduced expectations at school and an obstacle to participating in team sports.

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