I’m one of the moderators for Science on Google+. I curate the social science stream. Our community is co-hosting a discussion on autism research live on air, in around an hour’s time (2pm Australian time or 10pm USA EST or 3am UTC/GMT). Our co-host partner is Autism Brainstorm, a research-led community of practice that puts families in touch with experts and resources of support.
Join us to hear experts discuss the latest developments in education, policy and biomedical treatments. Some of our experts are diagnosed on along the autism spectrum disorder and all researchers are advocates of research-led community support services.
You’ll have a chance to post questions ahead of the panel discussion as well as while we’re live on air. You can also join us live on air if you’d like to talk directly with the panel if you get in early enough. Otherwise, the Hangout will stream live on air so you can just watch along and still submit written questions.
In the mean time, if you’d like to see the latest research and recommendations on autism to USA Government, have a read of the Updated Strategic Plan. Among other issues, the key research informing this plan identifies:
- International data are showing an increase in diagnoses pertaining to the autism spectrum. Studies have shown a rise in diagnosis amongst minority youth and adults from lower socio-economic backgrounds (especially those living alone). Researchers suggest there may still be more people who do not have access to services to receive adequate diagnosis and support
- Brain imaging, neuro-physiology, molecular and phenotyping, and immunity research into autism has improved, providing new insights on the neural connectivity affecting autism. Biological research has also made progress in examining other conditions and disorders that co-exist and affect autism experiences such as epilepsy
- Gaps in biomedical research include genomic, immunity and gender differences. These areas raise bio-ethical issues that researchers must be trained in. This requires that the research community develop comprehensive research and policy guidelines
- While more studies have emerged in the past couple of years studying genetic and environmental factors, problems remain. Prioritisation of diagnosis is an issue, given there are windows of time in which diagnosis is most crucial, and so research on these areas is paramount. For example, the preconception and prenatal periods
- Community intervention is also time-sensitive with respect to early behaviour. Research finds that young children who receive more hours of intervention (therapies, specialised education) generally have better outcomes. Enhanced research on biomarkers would also greatly improve the medical treatments available
- Sociological issues require research-based policy intervention. This includes access and payment of affordable healthcare. International research shows that minority children (specifically Latin children in the USA) as well as children living in rural areas experience up to 1.5 times more difficulty getting an autism diagnosis, or a delay of up to 6 months in some. This means that While middle-class children living in urban areas have a better chance of accessing diagnosis and treatment, while other disadvantaged groups suffer. There is a broader institutional problem in helping families and communities support people with autism. Children with autism are more likely to wander off alone in public and become exposed to danger. Schools are also inadequately managing autism. One study by the U.S.A. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights finds that 70% of cases where a child has been restrained at school involved autistic children. People experiencing autism also have a higher mortality rate but this is connected to co-occurring conditions like epilepsy. Young adult and adult interventions is a growing area that requires further research and funding. Community-based care would better help families managing these sociological and health factors
Our on air discussion today will speak to some of these issues. Join our discussion via this link where you’ll also find the speaker bios and links to their research.