Community Bulletin: Parental Perceptions of Autism Over Time, a New Therapy for Anxiety in People with Autism | Spectrum

Illustration by Laurène Boglio

Hello and welcome to this week’s community newsletter! I am your host, Chelsey B. Coombs, Spectrumengagement editor.

Parents’ perceptions of autism have changed as the prevalence of the disease has increased, according to a new article that analyzed data from a survey over a 15-year period. Those with autistic children perceived their children’s impairment to be 23% higher at the end of the study period than parents at the start. And the perceived increase in impairment was as high as 65 percent among parents with children whose autistic traits were insufficient for a diagnosis.

“Our results clearly show that the perceived impairment increased with the calendar year at all times. [autism] symptom level, but even more so in people who would previously have been considered to be subsyndromic or “only” exhibiting autistic traits, ”the researchers write.

This change is due to the change over time in the way autism is defined, they add – a point reiterated in a tweet from Uta Frith, Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Development at University College London in the UK .

Frith wrote in depth on this topic for her July Autism research Letter to the editor, stimulated by Laurent Mottron’s comment on the same subject. Mottron, professor of psychiatry at the University of Montreal in Canada, will speak more on this topic in our webinar on August 31.

Tony Charman, professor of clinical child psychology at King’s College London in the UK, tweeted that the study was an “interesting look at secular changes over time.”

Our next discussion thread comes from Lisa Quadt, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Sussex in the UK. Quadt discusses his study of a new therapy to help target anxiety in adults with autism. Some 53 percent of people with autism meet the criteria for diagnosing an anxiety disorder at some point in their life, while only 10 to 15 percent of people without autism do.

She and her colleagues tested a therapy called Aligning Dimensions of Interoceptive Experience, or ADIE. Previous research has shown that people with high anxiety levels are more sensitive to internal changes in their body, such as a change in heart rate. And people with autism are more likely than people without autism to have difficulty measuring and accurately describing bodily sensations, an ability called interoception.

ADIE is about educating people about the extent to which they measure their own heart rate, to help them increase their accuracy. The team’s hypothesis – that better understanding and regulating the interoceptive experience could reduce anxiety – was found to be correct: People with autism who took six sessions of ADIE had less anxiety three months after the treatment. treatment than those who received control therapy.

“We hope that ADIE can be incorporated into clinical practice as a tool against anxiety symptoms in autistic and non-autistic adults,” Quadt tweeted.

Hakwan Lau, team leader of the Consciousness Lab at the RIKEN Center for Brain Science in Saitama, Japan, tweeted that ADIE “looks like this might be useful for, for example, alexithymia, or just people suffering from anxiety disorders in general ”.

Quadt responded that ADIE produces similar results in people without autism and that a study is underway to understand its effects on people with anxiety disorders and joint hypermobility.

And finally, David Mandell, professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania and Autism editor, wins ‘tweet of the week’ award, we think:

Don’t forget to register for our August 31st webinar with Laurent Mottron, professor of psychiatry at the University of Montreal in Canada, who plans to discuss “a radical change in our autism research strategy”.

And on September 28, Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele, professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, will speak about the development goals of new autism drugs – and the obstacles researchers may face.

That’s it for this week’s community newsletter. Spectrum! If you have any suggestions for interesting social posts you’ve seen in autism research, please feel free to email me at [email protected] See you next week!


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