Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Existential dread or being ostracized: Take a tylenol?

So says research published in Psychological Science:

The Common Pain of Surrealism and Death

Acetaminophen Reduces Compensatory Affirmation Following Meaning Threats

MedicalExpress explains it better:

Experiencing existential dread? Tylenol may do the trick

So what does this have to do with autism?  At first I thought great,  I'll give my son Tylenol for all that social ostracism he faces and it will help blunt the pain of it.  But reading the article in MedicalExpress there is a brain chemical involved that signals when something is wrong, which Tylenol seems to interfere with:

"Pain extends beyond tissue damage and hurt feelings, and includes the distress and existential angst we feel when we're uncertain or have just experienced something surreal. Regardless of the kind of pain, taking Tylenol seems to inhibit the brain signal that says something is wrong."
Sometimes it seems like autism is a dysfunction of a chemical that signals when something is wrong:  under acctivated when it should be active and over activated when it shouldn't.  So I googled Tylenol + Autism and here's what I found:

Did acetaminophen provoke the autism epidemic?


Schultz et al (2008) raised the question whether regression into autism is triggered, not by the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, but by acetaminophen (Tylenol) given for its fever and pain. Considerable evidence supports this contention, most notably the exponential rise in the incidence of autism since 1980, when acetaminophen began to replace aspirin for infants and young children. The impetus for this shift - a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warning that aspirin was associated with Reye's syndrome - has since been compellingly debunked. If aspirin is not to be feared as a cause of Reyes syndrome, and acetaminophen is to be feared as a cause of autism, can the autism epidemic be reversed by replacing acetaminophen with aspirin or other remedies? 

Me, personally, I never take Tylenol...the whole liver damage, alcohol thing.  I enjoy my glass of wine a night too much!  I wasn't much into giving my kids Tylenol either.  I remember my son getting dosed up by the nurses before a round of vaccines when he was an infant, but that was only once or twice.  Generally they'd leave that up to the parents and I didn't do it.  Frankly, I was always too scared I'd OD him on accident with the hard to measure dropper.  Anyway, good luck all.  Looks like another no-win situation.  

Monday, April 8, 2013

Children With Autism Leave 'Silly' out

I love that headline.  The crux is when researchers studied kids, ASD and typical developing, they found that autistic children mimic actions necessary to complete a project but not inefficient, silly, actions.  Typically developing children, on the other hand, mimic all the actions, especially the silly, unnecessary ones.  They call it "overimitation."  Never heard of that before. 

The researchers cleverly sum it up by saying:
"The data suggest that children with autism do things efficiently rather than socially, whereas typical children do things socially rather than efficiently,"

I'll accept that, heck, I even agree with the autistic kids!

Children With Autism Leave 'Silly' out

Monday, March 25, 2013

Face recognition and autism

Reduced 'Fine-Tuning' of Brain May Hamper Face Recognition in Autism

John Elder Robison, author and autism advocate, on his issues with face recognition.  Btw, I met him at a book signing for "Be Different, Adventures of a free-range Aspergian" and he's a really nice guy.  I highly recommend his books:

My Life With Asperger's

How to live a high-functioning life with Asperger's.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

New Autism studies

I've been on hiatus for the tax season, which is a busy time for me, but there are some very interesting autism studies to note:

First, thanks Jaimee for bringing this to my attention:

Harvard Study: Women Abused Young More Likely To Have Autistic Children

Seems to boil down to inflammation more than anything.  I have my son take a krill oil supplement and minimize wheat in his diet, which I think helps tamp down inflammation.  I, myself, starting taking a coated baby aspirin in the morning and have noticed a considerable decrease in my nagging, but random, pain issues.  I'm also off wheat, and we've both stopped getting the chronic canker sores.  We get sick less often, and we both experience less anxiety related problems and even sleep better.  I'd put my son on an aspirin too but he's only 13.  I will recommend to him as he get's older to add an anti inflammatory to his supplements because I think inflammation exacerbates autism, as well as possibly setting the stage for it's cause.  

That one is easy: the older a man is, the more "de novo" mutations of his sperm, which could get passed down to further generations:

 CDC:  Higher number of children with autism

Instead of 1 in 88, it may be 1 in 50.  Well, people are having children later and I wouldn't doubt that people are experiencing more inflammation due to poor health habits.  We'll have to see if those numbers hold up.

And Finally:

Misregulated Genes May Have Big Autism Role

Haven't looked at the genes closely, appears to be a rare form of autism studied.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Childhood anxiety disorders

Looking for the outgrowing autism study, I find this little gem:

What do childhood anxiety disorders predict?

Conclusions:  Anxiety disorders in childhood are predictors of a range of psychiatric disorders in adolescence. It appears that children meriting a well-defined diagnosis are missed by the current rules for the diagnosis of GAD. Future studies should examine whether OAD deserves reconsideration as a nosological entity.

Outgrowing autism

I can't wait to read this but the link doesn't seem to be working yet.  For now, we'll have to be content with what ScienceDaily offers:

Some Children Lose Autism Diagnosis: Small Group With Confirmed Autism Now On Par With Mainstream Peers

"Although the diagnosis of autism is not usually lost over time, the findings suggest that there is a very wide range of possible outcomes," said NIMH Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D. "For an individual child, the outcome may be knowable only with time and after some years of intervention. Subsequent reports from this study should tell us more about the nature of autism and the role of therapy and other factors in the long term outcome for these children."

 An interesting finding:
"The results suggested that children in the optimal outcome group had milder social deficits than the high functioning autism group in early childhood, but had other symptoms, related to communication and repetitive behavior, that were as severe as in the latter group."

Studies from autistic mice

I have been skeptical about findings that come from autistic mice (the mouse model bred to mimic autism), or even, that there is such a thing as an autistic mouse.  I rarely blog about them, but see these studies frequently.  Looks like I'm not the only one thinking these autistic mice aren't all they're cracked up to be:

Mouse Behavior From Autism Studies Not Reproducible