September 20, 2017

Extra-axial CSF Predicts Autism Development in High-risk Infants

download (3)NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – An increased amount of extra-axial cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is associated with a higher risk of developing autism in infants at high familial risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to findings from the Infant Brain Imaging Study (IBIS).

“This potential biomarker at 6 months of age raises the potential for early detection of autism in the first year of life, prior to the onset of behavioral symptoms,” said Dr. Mark D. Shen from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.  Read more….

Autism Linked to Herpes Infection in Pregnancy

170222131515_1_540x360Women actively infected with genital herpes during early pregnancy had twice the odds of giving birth to a child later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to a study by scientists at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.  Read more here…

Preschoolers Who Struggle With Language Need Close Monitoring, Researchers Say

imagesSpeech and language delays affect 6-7% of children at school entry and can result in problems in one or more areas, such as understanding vocabulary and grammar, inferring meaning, expressive language, sound production, voice, fluency and articulation, and the use of language in social contexts.1 For some children, language problems are markers for—and secondary to—conditions such as autism, sensory impairment, or more general developmental disabilities. For others, they are the result of primary delay that cannot be accounted for by low non-verbal ability, hearing impairment, behaviour problems, emotional problems, or neurological impairments. Environmental factors such as limited opportunities for learning language or learning English as an additional language may also overlap with primary and secondary delay. In the linked cluster randomised trial (doi:10.1136/bmj.d4741), Wake and colleagues assess the effects of a low intensity parent-toddler language promotion programme delivered to toddlers identified as slow to talk on screening in universal services.  Read more here….

Perinatal Complications Tied to Increased Autism Risk

download (4)Children exposed to complications shortly before or during birth, including birth asphyxia and preeclampsia, were 15% more likely to develop autism spectrum disorder (ASD) than were children not exposed to complications, new research indicates.

The relative risk varied depending on the timing of the exposure, according to the Kaiser Permanente study, published online January 31 in the American Journal of Perinatology.  Read more….

Fecal Transplants May Yield Lasting Benefits in Autism

featured-autismIn a study of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) led to significant and lasting improvements in both gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms and ASD-related symptoms, researchers report.

“We were hoping for some improvement in GI symptoms but were surprised to see 80% improvement,” Ann Gregory, one of the study’s lead authors and a microbiology graduate student at the Ohio State University in Columbus, told Medscape Medical News.

“Further, we were hoping for some improvement in autism symptoms and were pleased to see about a 25% improvement in only 10 weeks that remained after treatment stopped,” she added. Read more here…

Carrier Dome now offers safety kits for fans with sensory issues

21863059-mmmainThe Carrier Dome will now offer relief for fans with sensory issues at its events.

Friendly Access Sensory Safety Kits are now available at Carrier Dome guest services for individuals with autism, dementia, traumatic brain injury and various sensory challenges.

The kits were provided by a grant from The Jim & Juli Boeheim Foundation and Life is Washable, Inc.

Loud noises and bright lights can make it difficult or confusing for individuals with sensory issues to enjoy events.

The complimentary kits are packaged in an orange drawstring bag and include noise-reducing ear covers and ear plugs, anti-glare glasses, sanitizing wipes and tissues.

The foundation says the addition of the kits makes the Carrier Dome the first venue of its size in the United States to offer such sensory accommodations to its patrons.

For more information regarding the kit and availability, fans are asked to contact the Carrier Dome Management Office at 315-443-4634. 

Gastrointestinal Woes in Autism Explained?

downloadA heightened stress reaction may explain the high rate of gastrointestinal (GI) problems, particularly constipation, in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), new research shows.

“One cannot make specific clinical recommendations based upon this study, but it will be of particular interest to see if treatment of constipation in ASD can be augmented by targeting the mechanisms of stress reactivity in future studies, particularly for those least responsive to laxatives and those with the greatest stress reactivity,” study investigator David Beversdorf, MD, of the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders at the University of Missouri in Columbia, told Medscape Medical News.  Read more here

Parental Obesity Linked to Developmental Delays in Kids

download (1)Both maternal and paternal obesity may play a role in early childhood neurodevelopment, according to a new study published online January 2 in Pediatrics.

“In this first US study to prospectively examine both maternal and paternal obesity, maternal obesity was associated with delays in fine motor development, whereas paternal obesity was associated with delays in personal-social functioning, suggesting independent associations,” write Edwina H. Yeung, PhD, from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Rockville, Maryland, and colleagues. Read more here

Social Skills Training Program


Who: The social skills group will be run by graduate students (Sarah Gardineer and Heather Potts) under the supervision of Dr. Antshel.  If parents are interested in enrolling their children, they can contact Sarah Gardineer at

What: The group is primarily for children between the ages of 7 and 12 who experience difficulties in social situations; children with low verbal abilities or are unable to follow directions would not be appropriate for this group.

Where: The group will meet in Huntington Hall in room 432 on the Syracuse University campus.

When: Group will meet once a week from 5-6PM for 10 weeks.  Parents are encouraged to bring their child every week!  We have yet to decide a starting date for the group but it will likely begin in late January/early February.

Why: This group serves two purposes; to improve social skills for children and also to provide a support group for their parents.

The fee for each session is $10 and there is no penalty for missed sessions.  If there are any questions contact Sarah Gardineer at

Group Structure

Child Group

The first session focuses on establishing group rules for treating each other with respect, and on developing better emotional awareness of one’s self and others. Activities stress understanding gradations of simple emotions including happy, sad, angry, and afraid as well as more complex emotions including pride, guilt, and embarrassment.

Session 1:       Introduction, rules, emotional thermometer

Sessions 2 – 5 focus on receptive and expressive body language (facial expressions, body postures, and tone of voice) accompanying these emotions taught through modeling and role playing. Children learn how to use awareness of their own emotions as the basis for making choices about appropriate behavior during sad and/or stressful times. Children are provided with instruction about conversation skills. In this part of the training, there is an emphasis on ‘‘sharing the air,’’ ‘‘staying on the same page’’ with respect to context and topic, and ‘‘being honest.’’ The more subtle aspects of conversations, like taking turns in conversation, joining a conversation already underway, making comments, asking questions of others, using nonverbal indicators to express interest, and choosing appropriate topics, are included.

Session 2:       Fact files

Session 3:       SENSE

Session 4:       Conversation towers

Session 5:       Interpersonal effectiveness (getting what you want; getting along)

Sessions 6 – 10 include lessons about friendship, teasing, and bullying. Group and individual problem solving skills are taught. Some of the skills involved in problem solving are problem identification and prioritization, generation of feasible alternative strategies, and the evaluation of individual strategies. The focus is on the development of practical solutions, coping mechanisms, and self-control for these difficult interpersonal situations. These skills are taught, practiced, and reinforced through the use of a visual template, games, and role-playing activities. Perspective taking and empathy training are included, requiring the children to act out situations in which different people think different things or have different underlying motives.

Session 6:       Emotional Tool Box

Session 7:       Poisonous thoughts / antidotes

Session 8:       SODA

Session 9:       Perspective taking

Session 10:     Review


Parent Group

Parent groups are jointly educational and supportive, with the goals of enlisting parents as co-teachers of the curriculum. Parent sessions start with a discussion of the elements of each lesson plan, and an explanation of the rationale behind the lesson.


Halloween “Tricks” for Children with Autism

By Elizabeth Murcie, PNP

Halloween can be a fun and spirited time of year for children. Dressing up in costumes, getting candy, having parties, and decorating pumpkins is all part of this holiday fun. But, for some children with sensory, communication, or social difficulties, the festivities can be unpleasant. Autism Speaks, a non-for-profit advocacy group for families with autism, has compiled a few tricks or tips for this Halloween season.

  1. Practice trick or treating in your home prior to the “big night”. Have your child knock on a bedroom door to rehearse “Trick or Treat!” and the action of receiving candy
  1. Store-bought costumes may not “feel” right. Think of making the costumes at home. All green sweatpants with leaves and small sticks glued on…. Poof it’s a tree. All black soft clothes with black face-painted nose and ears on a headband…. Poof it’s a cat. Another option is just a Halloween-themed shirt that your child already likes.
  1. Ask a few neighbors ahead of time to provide something specific for when your child comes to the door as an alternative, in case they don’t like candy. This way they can still participate without feeling “different”.
  1. It may be hard for your child to communicate, but may still very much want to participate. This is a great example of what to hand over to the neighbor at the trick-or-treating door.
  1. Enjoy the holiday. Have fun as long as your child is. Don’t worry about a “meltdown”. And, if your child really doesn’t want to partake, that’s okay too!!