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Kathy Marshack News

Autism Awareness is Growing in Canada

Thursday, April 01, 2010


The Autism Society Canada has proudly announced that April 2nd, 2010 will be designated as the World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) in Canada. Their goal is to spread awareness about autism and lend assistance to those living with ASD. It has been estimated that 1 in 150 Canadians have some form of ASD. Since Canada is without national surveillance, those numbers can only be viewed as an estimate.

Michael Lewis, President of the Autism Society Canada is hoping for a change in how autism is monitored in Canada. He said, “All autism stakeholder organizations agree that Canada must establish accurate surveillance and reporting on ASDs. This information will help us to determine the prevalence of autism to help develop policies needed regarding treatments and services for all Canadians living with an ASD."

For more information about the Autism Society of Canada and WAAD, visit their website or join their Facebook page. Let us all continue to work towards more awareness of ASD in whatever country we live in!

New Research About the Hormone Oxytocin and High-Functioning Autism

Thursday, February 25, 2010


A new study performed by the Neuropsychology Group, Institute of Cognitive Science in France suggests that inhaling Oxytocin may be beneficial for people who have high function autism (HF-ASD). Oxytocin is a hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain and is thought to have an impact on emotions and behavior. Oxytocin is also referred to as "the love hormone."

The study was centered around a virtual ball toss with 13 adults with HF-ASD or Asperger Syndrome between the ages 17-39. The patients were randomly given either the Oxytocin nasal spray or a placebo spray. Those who inhaled Oxytocin improved in their ability to differentiate "good" players versus "bad" players by responding to more social cues. They also saw an improvement in gazing at the other players in the face and eyes.

This study is still in the beginning stages of research. There is much to be discovered in how much Oxytocin should be given and how often. Long-term effects of this hormone are also unknown at this time. For a complete look at this recent study, I recommend reading - Oxytocin Improves Social Interaction in High-Functioning Adults With Autism.

Controversy Stirring Over Possible Changes to Asperger Syndrome Diagnosis

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Asperger Syndrome (AS) was officially recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) for the first time in 1994. The DSM is published by the American Psychiatric Association and is used by mental health care professionals to identify specific disorders. The DSM-V (fifth edition) has proposed to eliminate Asperger Syndrome as a specific disorder (which it currently is) and categorize it under general Autism Spectrum Disorder.

What is good about the revisions is that the new DSM will view Autism disorders on a spectrum from mild to severe, rather than specific and distinct disorders such as Asperger Syndrome.  AS doesn't go away.  It is just refined as an Autism disorder on the milder end of the continuum.

Many Aspies and their loved ones are worried by this adjustment. Since they do not view themselves as autistic, they feel like it would label them as something different than they are. This revision has the potential to impact their future especially since Asperger's has recently been accepted and understood on a greater level. The rather controversial question is, will changing the diagnosis change the way someone with Asperger's is viewed?

The American Psychiatric Association is open to hear the public opinion of their proposed revisions. This window of opportunity will be open through April 20, 2010. Updates to the 2013 DSM-V will be based off of these comments and field trials. So now’s your chance to do the research on these proposed changes and make your opinions known! I would love to hear what your thoughts are on this matter as well. Please feel free to leave me a comment.

Click here to read the DSM-V proposed revisions. If you would like to participate in giving your comment to the American Psychiatric Association, click here. For more information, CNN Health posted a great article on this topic - Revised psychiatry manual targets autism, substance disorders.

Autism Numbers Are Skyrocketing

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


According to the latest CDC (Center for Disease Control) report, autism numbers are rising. There has been a 57% increase in autism cases in the last four years and it has been stated that 1% of American 8 year old children are being diagnosed with autism. With these kind of numbers, the CDC is recognizing autism to be a major health issue. Many are hoping that this type of information will spark more national attention and additional funding.

Numbers and figures like these are very important for parents and the medical community. Parents need to be alert to the signs and symptoms of autism. They should not be shy to investigate their concerns. The sooner a parents knows if their child has autism, the sooner proper care can be administered. With statistics on the rise, it is very likely that concerned parents have a reason to be worried and are not just paranoid. It is my hope that doctors will continue to be proactive and investigate on an individual and national level.

Please click here to read more about this new research. If you are interested in speaking to a health care professional about autism or Asperger Syndrome, contact my office for more information or visit Therapy FAQ on my website.

New Research Suggests One Percent of US Children may have Autism Disorders

Monday, October 12, 2009


Two new government studies indicate about 1 in 100 American children have autism disorders – which is significantly higher than a previous US estimate of one in 150. One of the studies, published in the journal Pediatrics by researchers at the Health Resources and Services Administration, reports that one in every 91 children ages 3 to 17 have such a disorder, as determined by a survey of 78,000 parents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is announcing their not-yet published results of a study that finds about one in 100 8-year-olds has an autism spectrum disorder, or ASD.

 

Researchers don’t know how much of the increase is a result of more frequent and earlier diagnoses and how much is a result of a real rise in the conditions. The Pediatrics paper discusses several possible explanations for the apparent increase in ASD diagnoses including a broader definition of autism disorders and a heightened awareness on the part of parents and doctors. Tom Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, said in a news conference: "The concern here is that buried in these numbers is a true increase." Insel noted that President Obama wants to increase spending on autism research by the National Institutes of Health by 16% — a bigger increase than in any other area of NIH research.

 

 England just recently released their first study of adults with autism. Apparently the findings confirm that ASD is just as common in adults as it is in children. Researchers at the University of Leicester, found that roughly 1 in 100 adults are on the spectrum — the same rate found for children in England. In fact, researchers found no significant differences in autism prevalence among people they surveyed in their 30s, 40s, 50s, right up through their 70s! Yet, as we know, the adult population with ASD is definitely under-diagnosed and therefore underserved.

 


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