Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Children with Autism Could be Helped with New Oxytocin Nasal Spray

A new study into a nasal spray has been showing some positive results in children with autism, showing an improvement in social skills.

A small clinical trial utilizing the hormone oxytocin has been showing some positive results in children with autism, boosting their social skills. Many people have labeled Oxytocin as the ‘love hormone.’ The results of the trial recently appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

While some studies in people have been inconsistent, clinical trials on animals have been much more successful. While some trials have shown positive results, others have proved to offer minimal to no benefits to the people undertaking the trial. The results could be influenced by how each person is affected by autism differently to other people. During this study, researchers tried to identify the different subsets and how the hormone affected each subset differently.

As part of their study, they discovered that children that had higher levels of Oxytocin had better social skills. They also discovered that children affected by autism with lower levels of Oxytocin before treatment responded to the hormone better than people with higher levels of Oxytocin at the start of the trial.
 We need to be thinking about a precision-medicine approach for autism,” says Karen Parker, associate professor of psychiatry at Stanford University in California, who co-led the study. “There’s been a reasonable number of failed [oxytocin] trials, and the question is: Could they have failed because all of the kids, by blind, dumb luck, had really high baseline oxytocin levels?”
The study marks the first successful attempt to find a biological marker that predicts response to the therapy.
This study is suggestive of a hormonal-based biomarker for oxytocin treatment, which makes sense and is a promising step forward,” says Adam Guastella, professor of psychology at the Brain and Mind Centre at the University of Sydney in Australia, who was not involved in the study.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Troubling Trend of Autism Misdiagnoses

Despite the heightened awareness of autism in recent years, some families are still finding it difficult to get their children recognized as autistic and appropriately diagnosed by doctors.  Doctors are
sometimes hesitant to diagnose children as autism, and may be more likely to classify their behavior as ADHD.  Since autism is often thought of as a lack of development, children who develop quickly and then regress are often misdiagnosed.  This can prove problematic for families with children they suspect to have autism, since autism treatments are more effective the earlier they are performed.  Fortunately, foundations such as the Autism Tree Project and First Five San Diego are dedicated to filling in the gaps.  Autism Tree provides free screenings to help identify children at risk of developing autism, and refers children to specialists in order to receive more concrete diagnoses.  First Five San Diego provides several free services to children under the age of 5.  Autism Tree is actively aware that autism manifests in different ways, and that different forms of autism require different treatments.  These programs also provide support and advice to families of children with autism