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Autism research is a family affair: Steps toward increasing inclusion and diversity

As a research team working with children and adolescents with autism in the Bronx, a racially, ethnically and culturally diverse borough of New York City, we have seen the significant barriers to research participation that families in our area face. Research is an essential step toward improving outcomes of individuals with autism. When research involves children, parents and caregivers make major contributions to the study process by enrolling their children in research, carving out time to bring their children to the research setting, and providing important information about the child's strengths, needs, and developmental and intervention histories. Unfortunately, the racial and ethnic diversity of the US population is not well-represented in many research studies and research findings often do not generalize to excluded groups. This lack of representation in research contributes to health disparities.



UVM Autism Collaborative Receives $350K for Rural Autism Outreach

A University of Vermont team focused on health care and research related to autism has received two awards totaling $350,000, through the Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Awards program. The two projects will make possible year-long outreach efforts to collaborate with the autism community in Vermont and organizations that represent diverse stakeholders.



Visual Illusions help us understand visual processing in autism

Emily Knight, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics and Neuroscience Jiashu Wang, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Department of Neuroscience

Researchers at the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience, one of AUCD's Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Research Centers, have found that children on the autism spectrum may not fill in missing information to see shapes in the same way as neurotypical children. This may mean that children on the autism spectrum are more likely to see the details of an object rather than putting those details together to see the big picture.



Screen Time Associated with Increased Inattention and Hyperactivity and Lower Language Scores in Young Children

In a new study of 36-month-old children showed that between a control group, children with an autism diagnosis, and children with ADHD symptoms, children with more inattention and hyperactivity had more screen time. They also had lower language scores. The root cause is still unknown, and this could be correlation. Children at risk for neurodevelopmental disorders had a negative association with screen time.

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NIH Awards $100 Million for Autism Centers of Excellence Program

AUCD Network Members Awarded

The National Institutes of Health has awarded a total of $100 million over the next five years to support nine Autism Centers of Excellence (ACEs). This endeavor funds large research projects to understand and develop interventions for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Created in 2007, the ACE program is renewed every five years.



Children with autism report greater gender diversity: study

Emily Stembridge

Children with autism report higher rates of gender diversity - the way an individual experiences gender, which may be different from the gender they were assigned at birth - than their typically developing peers, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (TN IDDRC, UCEDD, LEND) researchers have found.



New Horizons of Discovery on Sex Differences in Autism

John Constantino, MD, for the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis

The sex ratio for autism, 3 boys for every girl, occurs long before the time of puberty and is observed in all populations around the world, but its cause has remained a mystery. The Washington University Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center has been hard at work for years trying to uncover the biology of this profoundly influential sex difference. This year, the IDDRC team joined the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative Collaboration on Sex Differences in Autism, an international effort to combine the technologies and work of a select group of scientists around the world to further advance understanding of the biological mechanisms that distinguish males and females in the recognition, expression, and incidence of autism.

Jillian Reiher


CDD Psychologist Makes Going to the Dentist a Team Effort

A psychologist at Iowa's Center for Disabilities and Development worked with a patient to create a successful visit to the pediatric dentistry clinic.

A teacher is teaching a young student how to right. The teacher is a white woman with brown curly hair and a white shirt. The student is around 5 years old and is a white boy with short brown hair and a yellow polo shirt. They are both holding pencil


Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (TN IDDRC, UCEDD, LEND) Introduces New Toolkits Promoting Neurodiversity and Self-determination in Early Childhood Services

The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (VKC)(TN IDDRC, UCEDD, LEND) recently introduced two brand-new educational resources promoting neurodiversity and self-determination in early childhood services. The toolkits were created by the VKC Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorder (TRIAD) and the Vanderbilt Consortium LEND Training Program.



Engineering non-hallucinogenic versions of psychedelics to treat psychiatric conditions

By David E. Olson, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry and Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Medicine

Psychedlic drugs like MDMA and LSD can promote neuroplasticity and help treat some mental illnesses in autistic adults. To lessen the risk of dangerous side effects, the Olson Lab created safer, non-hallucinogenic psychedelics that show promise in models.

Speed coaching event, UCLA PEERS for Careers program



There will be an estimated 700,000 autistic adults aging into adulthood over the next 10 years. Yet, a staggering 80% of autistic adults are unemployed. The UCLA PEERS for Careers program was developed to address the challenges faced by autistic young adults in their transition from college to career and to create a scalable solution to employment barriers faced by autistic individuals to serve as a model of higher education training for colleges across the country.



Autism characteristics in individuals with Down syndrome

Amanda Dimachkie Nunnally, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Scholar, UC Davis Mind Institute

There is still much to be understood about the presentation of autism symptoms in individuals with Down syndrome, as some of the core characteristics of autism may overlap with intellectual disability. Individuals with Down syndrome and co-occurring autism tend to have more severe rigid and repetitive behaviors and greater challenges with social communication than do individuals with Down syndrome alone. However, the degree to which symptoms can be attributed to each condition remains understudied.



Decline in looking at faces may signal onset of autism in infants

By Devon Gangi, Assistant Project Scientist, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

A new study from UC Davis Mind Institute supports earlier findings that children who were diagnosed with autism at age 3 had a decreased level of eye gaze as infants compared to children without autism. This gives new insights into development trajectories and may help children get identified earlier.



Developing innovative methods to study the human genome

Medium or large changes to the genome are called structural variations (SVs). SVs are tied to many different diseases and conditions. Researchers at UC Davis Mind Institute are developing new models to understand and study SVs.



The role of maternal autoantibody exposure in brain development and behavior in autism

By Matthew Bruce

A recent collaborative effort by MIND Institute Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC) investigators Judy Van de Water, Jill Silverman, and Jacqueline Crawley, as well as researchers from Canada and the United Kingdom, used an animal model to evaluate the effects maternal autoantibodies on offspring brain development.

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