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Children's Health Council

News related to: autism

Autism CARES Act of 2019 Designates $1.8 Billion to Fund Research

An extension of the nation’s primary autism law was approved on September 30, 2019, authorizing $1.8 billion in spending on the developmental disorder in the coming years.

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Autism Prevalence Now 1 in 40 US Kids, Study Estimates

A survey of parents across the United States estimates that one in 40 children has autism spectrum disorder, according to a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. Read more ›

Autism Prevalence Increases: 1 in 59 U.S. Children

One in 59 US children has autism, according to a new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new estimate represents a 15% increase from two years prior and a 150% increase since 2000.

The new estimate is a prevalence rate of 1.7%, up from one in every 68 children (1.5%) in the 2016 report, which was based on data from 2012. The new figure was derived from 2014 estimates for 8-year-olds diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder in 11 communities across the nation.

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April Is National Autism Awareness Month

 National Autism Awareness Month is an opportunity to promote autism awareness, autism acceptance and to draw attention to the tens of thousands facing an autism diagnosis each year.  Read more ›

How a New Model of Autism Treatment Uses Robots

There are a growing number of assistive therapy (AT) tools to help students with Autism Spectrum Disorder to work independently and navigate classroom routines. Not all AT tools are high-tech: They can be simple, adaptive tools like highlighters and organizers, automatic page-turners, or book holders. They can also be high-tech tools like robots. Read more ›

22-Year-Old Nonverbal Woman with Autism on Finding Her Voice and Advocating for Others

Diagnosed with autism and oral-motor apraxia, which makes her unable to speak, Carly Fleischmann had a breakthrough at 10 years old when she communicated for the first time by typing on a keyboard. Today, the 22-year-old uses technology as her voice for everyday thoughts and feelings. Fleischmann has become the first-ever nonverbal celebrity talk show host, as well as an inspiring advocate for other people with autism. Read more ›

Autism Study: Early Intervention Pays Off Quickly

Intensive early intervention for kids with autism can be extremely costly, but new research finds that such treatment can pay for itself in short order.

Children who participated in the Early Start Denver Model — an evidence-based treatment for autism — saw the cost of treatment offset in as little as two years, according to findings published recently in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Read more ›

NIH Awards Nearly $100 Million for Autism Centers of Excellence Program

The National Institutes of Health has awarded nine research grants totaling nearly $100 million over the next five years for the Autism Centers of Excellence (ACE), a program that supports large research projects aimed at understanding and developing interventions for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The ACE program was created in 2007 from the consolidation of previous programs. Grants have been awarded every five years, and 2017 marks the third cycle of ACE grants. Read more ›

Study Associates Altered Mitochondria with Increased Autism Risk

Mitochondria, the tiny structures inside our cells that generate energy, may play a key role in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). A provocative new study by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)’s pioneering mitochondrial medicine team suggests that variations in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) originating during ancient human migrations may play an important role in predisposition to ASDs. Read more ›

Skills of Adults with Autism Drive Career Opportunities

New research finds that adults on the autism spectrum are using their special interests to engage in specific fields of study and determine career paths.

Investigators believe the findings continue a shift away from perceiving strong interests as a negative and toward a perspective that recognizes the strengths and potential of these personal pursuits.

Researchers from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development published their findings in the journal Occupational Therapy in Mental Health. Read more ›

Experimental Test Can Spot Autism in Infancy

Researchers say they can predict whether some infants under the age of 1 will actually develop autism in their second year.

The new experimental technique, using standard brain screening, is designed to focus solely on newborns known to be at high risk for autism because they have an older sibling who has it. Read more ›

New Clues on Why Autism Is More Common in Males

Structural differences in the male brain might explain why autism is more common in men than women, a new study suggests.

Autism is two to five times more common in men than women, according to background notes in the study. Previous studies have suggested that the biology of men might put them at higher risk for the disorder than women. Read more ›

Is Exercise an Antidote for Behavorial Issues in Students?

Children with serious behavioral disorders might fare better at school if they get some exercise during the day, a new study suggests.

The researchers focused on children and teenagers with conditions that included autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and depression.

The study was conducted at a therapeutic day school affiliated with Harvard Medical School. The school enrolls ∼110 children each year in kindergarten through 10th grade with diagnosed BHD, many of whom have learning disabilities, but does not serve children with intellectual disabilities. They looked at whether structured exercise during the school day — in the form of stationary “cybercycles”— could help ease students’ behavioral issues in the classroom. Read more ›

Are Autistic Children Over-Diagnosed With ADHD?

A new study conducted by the Center for Autism Research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has found that children with autism may be over-diagnosed with ADHD.

Screening results are often used to recommend school services as well as potential medications. In 18 questions, the screener known as the ADHD Rating Scale Fourth Edition (ADHD-RS-IV) asks parents and teachers to numerically rate a child’s behaviors. Half of the questions are focused on inattention, the other half on hyperactivity.

Teachers and parents who use the screening tool may mistake autism-related social impairments for attention problems, according to the study. Read more ›

Google Glass May Help Kids with Autism Recognize Emotions

Many children with autism struggle to form friendships, in part because they have difficulty with social skills such as recognizing facial expressions. A research team at the Stanford School of Medicine is using Google Glass to help.

As KQED’s “Future of You” blog recently explained, a group of scientists at the Autism Glass Project, led by Dennis Wall PhD, have built facial-recognition software for Google Glass to help children distinguish between seven different types of facial expressions. Wall’s pilot study, in which kids with autism used Google Glass to help identify expressions in images shown on a computer screen, gave promising results. In the next phase of the research, which is still looking for volunteers, the team is testing whether Google Glass helps kids recognize others’ emotions during real-world interactions. Read more ›

How the Immune System Controls Social Behavior

Researchers have found a new mechanism that could explain the link between social dysfunction and immune dysfunction.

A group of scientists recently discovered a two-way connection between the brain and the immune system, one that could have far-reaching implications.

For the longest time, scientists thought that the brain was totally separate from the body’s immune system—recent work has shown that’s not so. In the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord, there are lymphatic vessels that can drain fluid and immune cells from the cerebrospinal fluid into the deep cervical lymph nodes, which are located in the neck. Researchers identified these vessels first in mice, then found a “potentially similar structure” in humans. Read more ›

Autism Risk in Younger Children Increases If They Have Older Sibling with Disorder

A Kaiser Permanente study found that the risk of younger siblings developing an autism spectrum disorder is 14 times higher if an older sibling has ASD. The study, which was published in Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, also found the risk level was consistent across gestational age at birth.

The study included Kaiser Permanente members in Southern California and focused on at least two siblings born to the same mother between 28 and 42 weeks of gestation from 2001 through 2010. Researchers examined the medical records of the 53,336 children born during this time, of which 592 were diagnosed with ASD. They found that: Read more ›

Hearing Test May Identify Autism Risk

Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Neuroscience have identified an inner ear deficiency in children with Autism that may impact their ability to recognize speech. The findings, which were published in the journal Autism Research, could ultimately be used as a way to identify children at risk for the disorder at an early age. Read more ›

Technology May Help Doctors Learn To Address Autism

Many pediatricians remain ill-equipped to identify and support kids with the developmental disorder, but a new approach may help. New research suggests that a series of two-hour videoconferencing sessions may be enough to significantly boost the capability of working pediatricians to better treat those on the spectrum.

Through a program called ECHO Autism, researchers at the University of Missouri evaluated whether practicing pediatricians could be trained to screen for and treat autism in a series of remote training sessions. Read more ›

Research: Social Robots Good for Engaging Autistic Students

New research hints that social robots may be the key to helping autistic students develop stronger social skills.

Social robot developer RoboKind recently released preliminary research results regarding Milo and Robots4Autism that indicate children affected Autism Spectrum Disorders are more engaged in autism therapy when interacting with social robots than with other people. Read more ›

Should All Babies Be Screened for Autism?

After reviewing the existing studies on autism screening, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), a group of experts tasked by the federal government to review medical studies and provide recommendations for the public, said Tuesday in a statement in JAMA that there is not enough evidence to recommend all infants be screened for the developmental disorder.

This adds to growing contention among experts about which babies should be screened for autism,

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CDC: Child Autism Rate Now 1 in 45 After Survey Method Changes

About one in 45 children has an autism spectrum disorder, according to a new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey of parents.

This apparent increase is likely due to a change of questions parents were asked about their child, the study authors said.

“Probably the most important finding of this paper, which is hardly new, is that how one asks a question matters,” said Dr. Glen Elliott, chief psychiatrist and medical director of Children’s Health Council in Palo Alto, Calif. Read more ›

This British Barber Used Compassion – and Creativity – to Give a Haircut to a Boy with Autism

A British barber went the extra mile to give his client, a 3-year-old boy with autism, a proper haircut.

Jamie Lewis and Denine Davies had been bringing their son Mason to James Williams’ barbershop Jim the Trim in South Wales for almost three months with little success. It wasn’t until Williams, 26, got down on Mason’s level that he was able to make him comfortable.
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‘Sesame Street’ Introduces A New Muppet Character With Autism

For over a year now, Sesame Street has been working with organizations such as Autism Speaks and Autism Self Advocacy to help reduce the stigma associated with autism spectrum disorder. As part of the campaign “See Amazing in All Children,” the adorable muppet Abby Cadabby explains in one YouTube video, “Lots of kids have autism and that just means their brains work a little differently.”

The muppet Julia has not yet made her TV debut, but the wide-eyed little girl with a big smile is the star of her own digital storybook called “We’re Amazing, 1,2,3.” Read more ›

Early Support Program for Autism Connects Families to Autism Resources

A free program offered by Stanford Children’s Health and the Children’s Health Council connects families of recently diagnosed autism patients with Bay Area treatment resources. Read more ›

Autism Specialist Dr. Nicole Hess Joins The Center Staff

The Center at CHC is pleased to welcome child psychologist Dr. Nicole Hess to The Center staff. Dr. Hess specializes in assessing and diagnosing autism and spent several years working with early intervention and therapy for children aged 0-3. She believes in working with children’s strengths to support their areas of need, and she helps parents understand autism so they can be strong advocates for their children. Dr. Hess is married, has a young daughter, and enjoys running, reading, and music. She tells us she is a long-time fan of Pearl Jam. Welcome Dr. Nicole Hess!

The Early Support Program for Autism (ESPA)

The Early Support Program for Autism is The Center’s joint program with Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford providing free support, training and resources to families who’ve just received a diagnosis of Autism. Read more ›

New Autism Diagnostic Criteria May Encourage Symptomatic Approach to Drug Use

The fifth edition of the DSM–the “Holy Grail” of diagnosing psychiatric disorders–proposes the umbrella term of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), replacing the current “autistic disorder.” ASD will incorporate current diagnoses of Asperger syndrome, pervasive development disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), Rett syndrome and childhood disintegrative disorder, thereby eliminating these diagnostic distinctions.

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The Mirror in Your Brain

The mirror neuron system in your brain influences your emotions when you watch another human being. Those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) might not have this system working properly.

Impaired social functioning is one of the main symptoms of ASD. Those with the greatest social impairment have been shown to also have the lowest brain activity in the mirror neuron system.

In a study published in the March 2012 edition of the journal Biological Psychiatry, 34 participants with ASD and 36 participants without ASD watched hand gestures while the team of researchers monitored their brain activity. The brain activity was studied using transcranial magnetic stimulation, a complex non-invasive method of monitoring brain activity. Read more ›