New Autism Research: Therapy Dogs, Folic Acid, Genetics and More

My inbox was filled with several new autism research updates including the benefit of therapy dogs, prenatal folic acid use is associated with a decreased risk of autism and of course an autism and genetics study.

Can therapy dogs be beneficial for children with autism spectrum disorder?

“Interactions with therapy dogs, or the introduction of an assistance dog into a household with a child who has an ASD, may help the child develop emotional attachments and interaction in a social setting based on simple and predictable patterns, without having to interpret verbal cues. The enhanced capability for social interaction they would achieve may then carry over to interpersonal communication and relationships.”

Folic acid supplements early in pregnancy may reduce child’s risk of autism by 40 percent

“Mothers who took folic acid supplements in early pregnancy had a 40% reduced risk of having children with autistic disorder compared with mothers who did not take folic acid. The reduction in risk was observed in those who took folic acid during the time interval from 4 weeks before to 8 weeks after the start of pregnancy. Autistic disorder is the most severe form of autism spectrum disorders in children. No reduction in risk was observed for PDD-NOS. For Asperger syndrome, the number of children was too low to obtain sufficient statistical power in the analyses.”

Some autism behaviors linked to altered gene

“An error in the gene, CELF6, leads to disturbances in serotonin, a chemical that relays messages in the brain and has long been suspected to be involved in autism.”

Youths with autism spectrum disorder need help transitioning to adult health care

“Health care transition (HCT) services help young people with special health care needs such as asthma or diabetes move from pediatric to adult health care. However, youths with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have less access to these services, which are designed to prevent gaps in care and insurance coverage. A University of Missouri researcher recommends that the medical community develop HCT services for individuals with ASD as a way to ensure consistent and coordinated care and increase their independence and quality of life.”

Photo: Gwinnett County Public Library/Flickr

About Melissa

Melissa is the mother of two children on the autism spectrum and strives to provide information about all aspects of autism through her blog, The Autism Education Site. Follow Melissa on Twitter. Like me on Facebook.

© Melissa Hincha-Ownby and The Autism Education Site, 2008-2013.

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