Saturday, May 30, 2015

Urine test to screen for Autism

Women have been doing it for over a decade: Pee on a stick in the privacy of your own home and moments later, find out if you are pregnant. Two lines or one, positive or negative, pregnant or not pregnant. It’s as simple as that. Could it now be this simple to diagnose Autism?

According to a research published a couple of years ago, children with autism have a different chemical fingerprint in their urine than non-autistic children. The researchers behind the study, from Imperial College London and the University of South Australia, suggest that their findings could ultimately lead to a simple urine test to determine whether or not a young child has autism.

According to the CDC, Autism affects an estimated one in every 100 people in the US. People with autism have a range of different symptoms, but they commonly experience problems with communication and social skills, such as understanding other people's emotions and making conversation and eye contact. Currently, diagnosing a child with Autism can be a very subjective process. Parents often notice something is not right about their child between the ages of 12-18 months. At present, the only way to assess a child for autism is through a lengthy process involving a range of tests that explore the child's social interaction, communication and imaginative skills. Many children don’t get diagnosed until even later, missing a critical window of opportunity for early intervention.

People with autism are also known to suffer from gastrointestinal disorders and they have a different makeup of bacteria in their guts from non-autistic people.

This research shows that it is possible to distinguish between autistic and non-autistic children by looking at the by-products of gut bacteria and the body's metabolic processes in the children's urine. The exact biological significance of gastrointestinal disorders in the development of autism is unknown.

The distinctive urinary metabolic fingerprint for autism identified in this new study could form the basis of a non-invasive test that might help diagnose autism earlier.

This would enable autistic children to begin treatment for autism, such as advanced behavioral therapy, earlier in their development than is currently possible.

Early intervention using the methods of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) can greatly improve the progress of children with autism. The earlier the better.

Daniel Adatto, BCBA



Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Twins and Autism Spectrum Disorders

For years, scientists, parents, and doctors have debated the causes of autism. According to certain studies, there is a higher rate of autism among identical twins and although not as high, fraternal twins. Twin studies may seemingly point to a genetic cause for the autism spectrum disorder; however, the increased risk amongst fraternal twins seems to indicate that environmental factors also play a role.

While there is still much to be studied on this topic, documentation of twins development where one twin suffers from autism and the other is typically developing can help researchers tremendously.

I came across a series of videos released by the National Autism Awareness Month, Rethink Autism a while ago which help to raise awareness of autism among parents. Through the powerful story of Trina McField, a mother who recognized early signs of autism in one of her twin boys, these videos educate viewers on how to spot the early signs of autism, highlighting the contrast in behavior between a child with autism and his typically developing twin brother. The videos also suggest evidenced-based treatment options available to parents and show the dramatic improvement in a two-year-old boy with autism after just five months of treatment at home. Behind the video footage is an incredible story of a mother who perseveres through doubt and uncertainty to bring hope to and create a future for her son with autism. The story inspires and empowers parents to start early intervention treatment using an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)-based curriculum. Recommended by the US Surgeon General and the American Academy of Pediatrics, ABA is the only treatment for autism that has been consistently validated by independent scientific research.

When in doubt consult with your pediatrician. And give us a call. We, who devoted our professional lives to this field, are here to help.  
Daniel Adatto, BCBA