Author Archives: Marlena Smith

The American Academy of Pediatrics Proposes Changes to U.S. Chemical Management Policy

We come in contact with countless chemicals found in the products we use day-to-day. Although we encounter these chemicals regularly, little is known about the extent to which these chemicals adversely affect our health. Moreover, the ways in which these chemicals impact the health of children during crucial developmental stages (e.g., in utero, infancy, childhood, and adolescence) is not fully understood. For this reason, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Council on Environmental Health suggests revisions to United States (U.S.) policy on chemical management to better support the health of children, pregnant women, and other populations.

Posted in Autism Research | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Childhood Vaccinations and Autism

Childhood vaccination is a controversial topic with high stakes in the field of autism. The danger in declaring a positive association between autism and vaccinations that is based on unsound research methods, like those described above, is that other findings that are grounded on more solid research methods may be discarded as a result. No matter what your beliefs are in regards to vaccinations, I urge you to take caution when interpreting the results of this study.

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The American Psychiatric Association’s Proposed Revision of the Diagnostic Criteria for Autism

While these are very real concerns, they do not take away from the scientific evidence that the disorder is best described as falling along a spectrum and that the APA’s revised diagnostic criteria likely offers a more accurate clinical definition of the disorder. As we move forward with the revised diagnostic criteria, we will surely run into obstacles; however, in the long run I believe we will have a much more clinically useful definition of autism. I am interested in hearing what you have to say on the matter. What are your thoughts on the APA’s revised diagnostic criteria?

Posted in Autism Research | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Prenatal Vitamins and Autism Spectrum Disorders

Participants included 278 children with typical development, 288 children with autistic disorder, and 141 children with ASD, ages 24 to 60 months. Via telephone interviews, mothers were questioned retroactively about their consumption of vitamin supplements during the three months prior to conception and throughout the gestational period. Furthermore, blood samples were collected from the families of 232 participants with typical development and 238 participants with autistic disorder. Maternal, paternal, and child blood samples were tested for various one-carbon metabolism gene variations, which have been found in previous research studies to be associated with ASD.

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Estimated Prevalence of ASD in South Korea

Due to the severe drop off in participation from those who were qualified to receive diagnostic evaluations but did not, Dr. Kim and colleagues employed methods to adjust for the missing data. For starters, all the children reported in the Ilsan Disability Registry as having ASD were assumed to have it. As for the children enrolled in mainstream education, likelihood of having ASD was predicted based on the data collected from the participants who did undergo diagnostic evaluations, as well as each child’s ASSQ score, sex, and age. Thus, the 1 in 38 statistic that we see reported is based off of these adjusted data, not the actual observed children.

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Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Adults

According to Dr. Brugha and colleagues, these findings suggest that the increased prevalence of ASD seen today may not be the result of increased incidence of ASD, but rather under-diagnosis of ASD across previous generations. While further research is needed to replicate these findings, the results of this study offer preliminary evidence that incidence of ASD may have remained more or less stable over time and that improved screening and diagnostic practices may account for the greater rate of ASD diagnoses today.

Posted in Autism Awareness, Autism Research | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Haircuts and Children with Autism

Haircuts can pose a challenge for children with autism and their parents. For many children with autism, sensory sensitivity coupled with high anxiety can make a visit to the hair salon a traumatic experience that ultimately results in a tantrum. The experience is stressful for parents as well, especially if they are visiting a salon that is not familiar with autism. As a result, many parents dread taking their child for a haircut and often put it off as long as they can.

Posted in Opinion | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Cultural Differences in Endorsed Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders

In a recent study, Dr. Johnny Matson and colleagues identified cultural differences in endorsed symptoms of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). While it has been reported that diagnostic criteria and behavioral manifestation of ASD is virtually the same worldwide, cultural differences may impact how ASD symptoms are interpreted around the world. For this reason, Dr. Matson and colleagues set out to investigate cultural differences in reported ASD symptoms across four countries including Israel, South Korea, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States (US).

Posted in Autism Research | Tagged , , , , , | 17 Comments

April is National Autism Awareness Month

It is now estimated that one in 110 children are diagnosed with autism. Despite this statistic, autism awareness is still relatively low within our communities. National Autism Awareness Month is a great opportunity to educate others about autism spectrum disorders. What will you do in honor of Nation Autism Awareness Month?

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The Puzzling Piece iPad Fundraiser

This year, The Puzzling Piece is offering a new and exciting challenge for all those who have a child or student with autism. If you sell 60 pieces of select Puzzling Piece jewelry, your child or student will receive a free iPad. Each piece of jewelry costs only $20 and customers have the choice between an alloy puzzle-piece keychain and a glass puzzle-piece necklace. In addition, the jewelry can easily be purchased online under the recipient’s name.

Posted in Autism Therapy, PR and News | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments