Autism Research

The Exceptional Parent, June 1999 | Go to article overview

Autism Research


Studies currently underway may provide clues for treatment,

--Excerpted from the Autism Society of America's Web site http://www.autism/society.org.

The international collaborative Network on Biology and Brain Development in Autism was established in 1997 by the National Institutes of Health through the work of the Autism Society and their parent letter writing campaign. With the goal of solving the "mystery of autism" it puts the best scientific methods, researchers and tools together in a collaborative effort. The Network is co-funded by the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), the Office of the Director of the overall National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the NIH Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM).

The following is a list of the Network studies. There is no charge for any service provided as part of the research studies. All eligible subjects receive free diagnostic and, neuropsychological evaluations. No treatments are provided as part of this Network. Because of research requirements, each study has eligibility criteria for participation. Anyone interested in participating should contact the study coordinator for more in-depth information.

Genome Studies of Families with More than One Child with an Autism Disorder

One of the best ways to find the genes for autism is to perform a genome-wide screen for autism susceptibility genes, using DNA from families with more than one child who has autism disorder (autism, Asperger's etc.). These families are known as multiplex families. The University of Washington and Yale University (see below) both need your help in finding the autism gene(s) through a genome search. Both projects include scientists and clinicians who have found genes for other disorders. They are among the most experienced in the world of diagnosing autism. Both projects have met all NIH requirements for safety and confidentiality of information. DNA from genetic studies will be preserved so that it will be available for later study by these and other scientists. More than 400 families are needed.

* The University of Washington, Seattle

Dr. Geraldine Dawson
(with the Universities of Alaska, Florida, Montana,
Oregon, and Vanderbilt University, Tennessee
Contact: Cathy Brock;
Telephone: (800) 994-9701
E-mail: cbrock@u.washington.edu

Participants will receive free diagnostic and neuropsychological evaluations. The study will pay for travel and hotel costs for multiplex families. In addition to the genetics studies, this project will study precursors of speech and language, and brain structure and function' in response to speech and social situations. This project also needs first and second birthday videos of children who have autism, and lost speech and social skills during the preschool years.

* Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

Dr. Fred Volkmar and Dr. Catherine Lord
(with the University of Chicago, the University of
California at Los Angeles (UCLA), Oxford
University, and the University of London (plus
others in England, France, and Germany).
Contact: Kathleen Koenig, R. N.
Telephone: (203) 785-3488
E-mall: mikle.south@yale.edu

All subjects receive a free diagnosis and a neuropsychological evaluation--including a parent conference and general treatment recommendations. This project is focusing on the of high functioning autism and Asperger's disorder. Studies include the underlying genetics, neuropsychological profiles, and brain structures and functions for the various autism disorders. A follow-up study of children diagnosed at age 2 to 3 will identify early predictors of autism. The European Consortium, linked to the Autism Collaborative Network through this project, is based at Oxford and the University of London, and is funded by the Medical Research Council of Great Britain and the Wellcome Fund.

Other Genetic Studies

* The University of Rochester

Dr. … 

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